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Speech at Bomber Command Museum of Canada, Nanton, Alberta

Ladies and gentlemen, special guests, and first time attendees, I am pleased to join you today in Nanton at this the Bomber Command Museum of Canada.   Sustained by dedicated volunteers and their many hours of work, this museum commemorates Canada`s brave young men of the Royal Canadian Air Force, who fought from the skies in World War II`s Bomber Command.  This campaign was a cooperative effort of the British Commonwealth countries, from whence young men came to Canada for training in the arts of aviation and war from the skies.  I have great affection for the people who sustain and maintain the life of this special Bomber Command Museum.  I admire and laud them for their noble work that reveals their esteem for those who served and fell in this campaign.  War is a grim reaper of life, particularly young men`s lives.  I praise and thank all those humane persons who labour to sustain and maintain this Museum.  I freely admit that I have a deep attachment to them, and to this special place the Bomber Command Museum.  Today, again, we uphold the brave young men, the Bomber Boys, many from small-town Canada, like Nanton, but all, every single one, a dedicated Bomber Command airman.  Today is one of those days when we deeply sense, and freely admit, the need for the sacred in the heart and psyche of the human person. This is a sacred place. To memorialize those who served and those who fell in war, `the fallen` is a sacred act.  Lawrence Binyon`s 1914 poem For the Fallen speaks for all time and for all humanity.  He wrote in his fourth stanza: 
 They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old                                                                  Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn                                                                    At the going down of the sun, and in the morning                                                                    We will remember them
 
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to commend the work of Halifax 57 Rescue, led by our beloved Karl Kjarsgaard, currently working to salvage and rescue the Canadian bomber plane, the historic and rare Halifax HR871.   Halifax HR871, is Karl’s and his team`s third Halifax rescue effort. These rescues are exceptional labours of love.  Each rescue is a remarkable feat, and a great achievement. The Halifax was the workhorse of the Royal Canadian Air Force.  Most of our Bomber Boys flew their first bomb operation in a Halifax. The Halifax Bomber plane was flown by fifteen RCAF squadrons, and remained thus until the debut of the Avro Lancaster. In fact that six thousand and one hundred Halifax bomber planes were built for service in World War II’s Bomber Command.  This Halifax HR871 bomber plane when rescued, will be the only one in existence that was deployed in active combat in World War II.   It strongly represents and reflects our brave Bomber boys who served in Bomber Command’s night raids.  The Halifax HR871, this rare and noble piece of Canadian history now sits in fifty feet of water, off the coast of Sweden.  I thank Karl Kjarsgaard for his devoted, and enduring contributions to Canada`s war history, and to the memory of these veterans, the Bomber Boys who served faithfully and courageously from the skies over Europe during World War II.   I am always humbled when I reflect on the enormity and magnitude of their contribution and sacrifice.
 
Ladies and gentlemen, Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris was the head of Bomber Command, which was the British Royal Air Force’s brave, but dangerous air offensive against the enemy Nazi Third Reich, and its well organized and deadly aggression and weaponry.  Bomber Command’s Canadian aircrews, the Bomber Boys, were in harm’s way in their bomb operations night after night in their efforts to defeat the enemy Nazis and Nazi aggression.  Our Canadian Bomber Boys, nightly faced incalculable dangers in their perilous night raids on Nazi targets, that produced and manufactured war weaponry and war machinery.  
 
In those World War II years, Canadian airmen of the Royal Canadian Air Force, served in their Canadian 6 Group, that was 13 squadrons.  Night after night, the Canadian R.C.A.F. squadrons and the Royal Air Force squadrons faced the then heights of technologically advanced warfare.  Canadian airmen, young men, in their Halifax and Lancaster bomber planes, faced mighty perils from the enemy.  Every night, Canadian airmen in bomber planes departed British airbases, one a minute, sixty an hour, for hours, to bomb enemy targets.  In the skies, night after night, Canadian air crews faced the Junkers 88, the deadly Nazi night fighter planes, and the many powerful Nazi anti-aircraft guns on the ground, reportedly, one hundred thousand of them.  The highly disciplined,  and well-equipped Nazi enemy, was committed to its own victory, which victory, at some critical moments during World War II, was within the enemy Nazi’s reach,  
Ladies and gentlemen, World War II exacted an incalculable price from the British Commonwealth Bomber Command war efforts.  Bomber Command`s air offensive robbed 55,573 young men of their lives, of which 10,659 were Canadians.  Bomber Command touched Canadian families.  On every block of every Canadian city, large and small or small, there was a family with a relative in Bomber Command.  In these years, Canadian families prayed faithfully every night for their Bomber Boy husbands, sons, brothers, fathers, uncles and cousins.  We must recall that for years into the War the Allied Forces had neither the opportunity, nor the means for offensive warfare against Nazi aggression, because at Dunkirk, the Nazis had driven the Allied forces off the continent of Europe.  At this time in the War, this battle from the skies, Bomber Command’s mastery in the air, was the Allies only possible, and their only Allied offensive against Nazi-occupied Fortress Europe.   Winston Churchill, Britain’s Prime Minister from May 10, 1940 till after the war, described Bomber Command in his secret war cabinet memorandum of September 3, 1940.  Titled, The Munitions Situation, he wrote:
 
The Navy can lose us the war, but only the Air Force can win it.  Therefore our supreme effort must be to gain overwhelming mastery in the Air.  The Fighters are our salvation, but the Bombers alone provide the means of victory.  We must therefore develop the power to carry an ever-increasing volume of explosives to Germany, so as to pulverize the entire industry and scientific structure on which the war effort and economic life of the enemy depends, while holding him at arm’s length in our Island.  In no other way at present visible can we hope to overcome the immense military power of Germany, and to nullify the further German victories.  .  .  . 
 
Ladies and gentlemen,  now to the 1943 creation of Bomber Command’s Canadian 6 Group  that  coincided with the significant increase in Bomber Command’s operations, all of which lead up to D-Day, June 6, 1944 at France’s Normandy.  D-Day was the day of the Allied Forces decisive return to, and invasion of Europe.   That day at Normandy beaches, Juno Beach for Canadian ground forces, Canadian bomber aircrews performed bravely in the air, and with distinction in this merciless, dangerous, and exacting theatre of war fought in the skies over the beaches of France’s Normandy.  I believe that we must ever uphold the superhuman contribution of our Bomber Boys and Canadian 6 Group.   The Nazi Minister of Armaments, Albert Speer, in his book Spandau: The Secret Diaries, published in1976 by Macmillan Press, wrote, on Bomber Command’s air war and offensives, at page 339: 
The real importance of the air war consisted in the fact that it opened a second front long before the invasion of Europe.  That front was the skies over Germany.  The fleets of bombers might appear at any time over any large German city or important factory.  The unpredictability of the attacks made this front gigantic; every square meter of the territory we controlled was a kind of front line.  Defense against air attacks required the production of thousands of anti-aircraft guns, the stockpiling of tremendous quantities of ammunition all over the country, and holding in readiness hundreds of thousands of soldiers, who in addition had to stay in position by their guns, often totally inactive, for months at a time. 
 
Bomber Command’s efforts had tied up vast Nazi resources that otherwise would have been directed against the Allied forces elsewhere. Speaking in the House of Commons, on August 20, 1940, Prime Minister Winston Churchill said:
The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of world war by their prowess and by their devotion.  Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.  
 
Friends and Canadians let us celebrate, commemorate, and honour these Canadian young men who served so faithfully, and those who fell.  I shall read the Scriptures, the Old Testament Book, Apocrypha, the Book of the son Sirach, also known as Eclesiaticus, Chapter 44, Verses 1, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 14, says:
1.  Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us.  .  .  .  
7.  All these were honoured in their generations, and were the glory of their times.          
8.  There be of them, that have left a name behind them, that thir praises might be reported.    9.  And some there be, which have no memorial; who are perished, as though they had never been;  and are become as though they had never been born;  and their children after them.        10.  But these were merciful men, whose righteousness hath not been forgotten. .  .  .     
14.  Their bodies are buried in peace; but their name liveth for evermore. 
Some of these lines are faithfully engraved in the wall of the Veterans Building in Ottawa.  The Bomber Boys sacrifices and contributions to Allied victory in 1945 were stupendous. We are indebted to them.  Let us uphold them.