Andrew Drummond June 30, 2012
About 4000 Australians are among the airmen honoured by a World War II Bomber Command memorial unveiled by the Queen in London.
And amid the pomp and ceremony, religion and royalty of the dedication ceremony came a story of comradeship from Down Under.
''I couldn't really see the Queen and the Duke [of Edinburgh],'' said 89-year-old Canberra veteran Frank Ward from his wheelchair toward the rear of the crowd.
''But seeing the memorial and being surrounded by all these old codgers, it made me feel nostalgic.
''We came from all over the world, the members of Bomber Command Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa. Today my thoughts turned to a bloke I met all those years ago while training in Canada, a lovely Maori bloke. I don't even remember his name.
''We were great mates and he was my protector. Like so many of the great men I met during the war, I don't know what happened to him [or] whether he even survived.''
Stories like that of the 467 squadron navigator were aplenty at the dedication, and for some the emotion was too great, as tears flowed freely during the Last Post.
The £3.5 million ($A5.4 million) stone monument in London's Green Park pays tribute to the 55,573 who lost their lives during the strategic raids on enemy territory.
More than 10,000 Australians signed up for Bomber Command. Only about 6000 returned home.
One hundred Command veterans from across Australia travelled to London for the memorial dedication.
''There is a sense of relief that there has been a special recognition of their significant contribution to the defeat of the Axis powers during the war. They played a key part,'' General Mark Kelly said of the Australian contingent who were present at the dedication. AAP