At the top of Canwick Hill, south of Lincoln, stands a huge bronze structure that seems to be in the middle of nowhere.
A 31-metre spire is a memorial to the thousands of the brave men and women who lost their lives as members of Bomber Command units during World War II.
Having driven past it during and after its construction, this was my first visit to the centre since it opened at the start of 2018, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Late on a sunny Tuesday morning in May, surrounded by the typically yellow fields of the Lincolnshire countryside, the centre is busy with people of all ages admiring the grounds of this unique exhibition.
Down the ‘Ribbon of Remembrance’, a path bordered with the names of donors, is the focal point of the centre, a 102-foot tall memorial. Deliberately the same height as the wingspan of a Lancaster bomber, the twisting bronze sculpture sits watching over the city, with an unparalleled view of Lincoln Cathedral. Again, no coincidence, as the cathedral was as a landmark to bombers flying into the country during the war.
Surrounding the monument are a number of curved walls, listing the names of the 57,861 people, 44% of all of the personnel of Bomber Command, who died in World War II. This really quantifies the scale of the sacrifice, and is a humbling memorial to both the scale, and the individuals who gave their lives.
Also, among these grounds are a series of trees representing the “lime woods of Lincolnshire”. Each of these 27 trees represents one of Lincolnshire’s RAF bases that were active during the war.
Inside the modern and glass fronted building, there are all the facilities you would expect of a new museum, including a café and gift shop. Also, the exhibition itself, which contains films, interactive displays and military memorabilia. Stories are told of the heroics and horrors of war through screens and equipment, and the walls are adorned with quotes from those who saw action in the war. The likes of a heatmap detailing a timeline of bombing raids across Europe will engage both younger and older generations alike, whilst the exhibition finishes with one of the Lincoln Knight statues, decorated with poppy’s, looking out of the window.
Lincoln Bomber Command Centre is open Tuesday to Sunday (and bank holiday Mondays), from 9:30am, with last entry at 4pm. Free tours are available throughout the day.
by Tom McBeth (June 2019)