The International Bomber Command Center has asked veterans of Bomber Command to pull out the lucky mascots they took with them on missions to display in an exhibition about their work in World War II. The Center is hoping to raise £2.5 million to open a new museum next year.
A small number of the mascots will be in the museum, but curators are hoping for hundreds more along with pictures and stories. They will collect everything in a digital archive.
Margaret McCrone’s father, Ernest Twells DFC, was a flight engineer in Lancaster bombers. She was one of the first to answer the call, bringing her father’s mascot Rupert, a black corduroy teddy bear. “The bear was made for me in 1943, but I never liked it, so my father started taking it on sorties instead. He called it Rupert because he used to read the Rupert the Bear cartoons to me,” she said.
Twells completed 65 missions, most with the 617 Squadron, known as the “Dam Busters.” After he died in 1979, Mrs. McCrone inherited Rupert. Her father’s log book and other documents will be part of the digital exhibition in the proposed Chadwick Center on the site of the IBCC.
Nicky Barr, director of the IBCC, said, “We want more people to give us access to their photos, diaries, and memorabilia. If they email us we can arrange to have the material digitized, so they don’t need to part with anything. There is a danger of all of these memories being lost, and we want to make sure these individual stories are preserved for future generations.”
The IBCC hopes to open the museum in July of 2017 if it can secure the remaining funds.