Thirty-two survivors of the 6000 New Zealanders who flew in bombing raids over Europe during World War II have been approved for a Government-paid trip to London for the Bomber Command memorial dedication and unveiling.
The men are aged between 87 and 94. The Government will cover their international travel, accommodation and other costs including their care and support teams and medical assistance during the two-week trip. Veterans Affairs NZ manager Rick Ottaway said that to be eligible for the trip, veterans had to have been members of the RNZAF and served with Bomber Command.
Each veteran was medically assessed to ensure he was fit to travel, and to attend three official functions. Mr Ottaway said more than 90 veterans had applied for the trip. However, 40 withdrew after considering the difficulty of the journey. One of those is the last-surviving pilot from the Dambusters raid in Germany in 1943, Les Munro. The Herald understands that the other applicants failed to pass a medical assessment.
“It will be good for the Bomber Command boys because they took a terrible beating. “Of the 20 men I started operations with, only two were still flying at the end of the war. I was lucky.” Mr Burrows said he was “not agile but fit enough” for the trip and its demands, which will include the ceremony to inaugurate the $12 million memorial, which New Zealanders helped to…