Bomber Command Memorial

Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial

Bomber Command

Washingborough Hall Hotel, is ideally situated just over 2 miles from the Bomber Command Memorial and would be an ideal place to stay…

About the Project


To those who served…

For some time there has been a move to build a Memorial to the 25,611 Bomber Command Aircrew as listed in the Rolls of Honour held in Lincoln Cathedral, from the UK, The Commonwealth and the rest of the world, most of whom were based on one of Lincolnshire’s 27 Bomber Command stations and who lost their lives in World War 2. An extraordinary mix of people from all over the world flew with Bomber Command, including Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Poles, Czechs, South Africans, French, Americans, Jamaicans and Rhodesians. 28% of the 55,573 lost Bomber Command airmen were non-British.

Lincolnshire housed over 50% of all the WW2 Bomber Command Stations making it the ideal home for this commemoration of the bravery of the men of Bomber Command.

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The Trustees will be working with all of the countries who served in the Command to ensure that their efforts and sacrifices are honoured as part of the Memorial. Although based in Lincolnshire this Memorial will act as a truly international celebration of Bomber Command.

The design process, which has been supported by the Arts Council of England, aimed to produce an iconic, significant and lasting national and international tribute to be erected on Canwick Hill above Lincoln and opposite the Cathedral. Lincoln Cathedral was used by the aircrews as a landmark to let them know that they had made it back safely. For those that didn’t make it back it was often the last marker they saw before leaving these shores. The winning design was the Spire of Names.

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The design includes the Chadwick Centre, in which the whole story of Bomber Command will be displayed. There will be a tribute to those crew members who were lucky enough to survive, the ground crews whose essential work kept the aircraft flying, the support and command staff, the aircraft and engine manufacturers, and an understanding of the effect of the campaign on the civilian populations of Europe and at home and the enormous lifesaving impact of Operations Manna and Exodus in 1945.

It will incorporate a 40 seat learning centre with an educational coordinator, whose role it will be to link with schools across the country and develop programmes that follow key stage guidelines across the 5-16 age range, involving core subjects in an interactive and fun way. The vision for the centre is to enthuse and educate future generations on not only the activity of the Command but specifically on the people that served.

There will be on-site facilities including a café and shop as well as extensive exhibition areas. These exhibitions will focus on interactive and digital formats and will incorporate videographies and oral histories which are in the process of being recorded.

The Spire of Names and Chadwick Centre will be placed in landscaped gardens including an avenue incorporating memorial stones dedicated to each of the 27 operational Command stations during WW2. Each stone will bear the appropriate station badge together with the badges of the squadrons based there. Those 27 stations will then be commemorated with the planting of native trees marking out the locations of each of the stations in the county. To reflect the International element of the Bomber Command there will be an International Peace Garden in which each of the countries involved in the Command will place a piece of sculpture as their memorial to their countrymen. This Memorial Park will provide the perfect environment for contemplation and reflection.

The Memorial

The design concept for the memorial is based on two wing fragments, tapering as they rise towards the sky to form an asymmetrical conical shape, in juxtaposition with the cathedral towers on the north escarpment, and echoing the church spires which are so familiar and prominent in the Lincolnshire landscape. The two wing fragments are connected by perforated linking plates, the inside faces of the wings being ribbed for structural strength. This arrangement of smooth, jointed external skin with internal faces having exposed supporting structure suggests the thin-skinned framed structures found in aircraft construction. The two wings are orientated to turn visitors from the Memorial Avenue and Chadwick Centre towards the north escarpment and cathedral – the visitor is inside a virtual wing when the cathedral is revealed across the Witham Gap. The taller ‘leading edge’ wing sits behind and at an angle to the ‘trailing edge’ wing which is 5 metres lower, visually fragmenting the memorial at its apex and connecting it with the sky. The overall height of the memorial is 102ft (31.09m), which is the wingspan of the Avro Lancaster; the width at the base is 16ft/5m, which is the overall width of a Lancaster wing.

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Memorial walls

The names of the 25,611 Bomber Command airmen lost flying from Lincolnshire airbases, as listed in the Rolls of Honour held in Lincoln Cathedral, are engraved on curved Corten steel walls, arranged around the wing memorial in a radial, asymmetrical pattern for visitors to discover in the landscape. At a maximum height of 1.8m, all names on the memorial walls are clearly legible and within reach, allowing visitors to read and touch the engraved names. This arrangement also allows for flowers, wreaths etc to be left at the walls.


Both elements of the memorial are constructed of Corten steel plate, an alloyed steel which forms a patina preventing corrosion. Paving around the wing memorial is in cast stone setts and pavers; the memorial walls are set in bound gravel paths enclosing grass / planted areas.

The Chadwick Centre

Roy Chadwick, one of the aeronautical industry’s most influential and prolific design engineers, has been honoured by the Trustees of The Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial Appeal by naming the Interpretation Centre after the designer of the iconic Lancaster bomber.

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Roy, who was born in Manchester in 1893, came from a long line of engineers. He joined Avro in 1911 and soon rose through their ranks to become their most senior engineer. Amongst his many designs were the Aldershot, the world’s largest single engine bomber, The Avian, in which test pilot Bert Hinkler, flew the first solo flight to Australia, the Manchester and the Lancaster of which over 7,300 were built. He also designed the Delta Wing which was used both for the Vulcan bomber and, later, for Concorde.

In 1943 he was honoured with a CBE for his part in designing the modifications required for carrying the Barnes Wallis bombs used in the Dambusters raid. In 1945 he was made an Honorary Freeman of the City of London. He is considered to be one of the greatest designers of the 20th Century.

The Centre will tell the collective story of Bomber Command and, in doing so, will aim to add value and complement the exhibitions and interpretative displays on offer at the other aviation sites across the county and further afield.

It will accommodate adaptable exhibition and installation spaces for permanent displays and the display of touring exhibition programmes, interpretation, artworks and related information. It will offer the first attempt, internationally, to present Bomber Command in all its complexity and ambiguity for a 21st century Europe, without detracting from the bravery of those who participated in its operations. It will therefore also present the story of destruction and suffering on the German side and the fierce debates conducted in the War Cabinet over the wisdom of the campaign. An oral history and videography project is envisaged as central to this attempt at reinterpretation, and will include accounts of German survivors of the Allied bombing campaign. There will also be a display covering Operation Manna, a humanitarian mission flown in April 1945, delivering 6,640 tons of food aid, over the Netherlands where the population was starving. This will be designed and built in partnership with a variety of Dutch organisations.

Coverage will also be given to illustrate a range of operations including Operation Chastise, also known as the Dambusters, which flew from RAF Scampton; Operation Hurricane, which supported the Normandy Invasion; Operation Hydra, the preventative bombing of the Peenemünde V-2 rocket facility; Operation Exodus, in which Bomber Command formed part of a mission to repatriate over 70,000 Prisoners-of-War and Bomber Command’s part in the Battle of Britain in which Bomber Command lost 330 aircraft and over 1,400 aircrew were killed, went missing or were captured.

Visitor facilities in the Centre will include a purpose built Education Centre, reference library, contemplative/quiet space, café/refreshment facilities, toilets and a shop.


The site at Canwick Hill on the outskirts of Lincoln has been specifically chosen because of its central placing in an area which was deeply connected with the Bomber Command. RAF Waddington, which suffered the greatest losses of any Bomber Command station, is only 2.4 miles from the site and during WW2 an Avro factory, which made the Lancaster was located at Bracebridge Heath.

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An important part of the location decision process was based on the inherent link between Bomber Command and Lincoln Cathedral. The Cathedral was of vital importance to the aircrews of Bomber Command as it was the last landmark many of them saw as they left Lincolnshire and for those who returned it was the sight that welcomed them back to the country. The Cathedral also plays host to the Rolls of Honour which lists the names of 25,611 men from Bomber Command who lost their lives flying out of the regions Command stations.

The Memorial will have a direct view of the Cathedral strengthening the link between the two structures.

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Fact File

25,611 – Bomber Command Aircrew who lost their lives flying from Lincolnshire and adjacent airfields
3,491 – Aircraft lost from Lincolnshire
70% – Of aircrew died, were taken prisoner or were injured between 1939 and 1945
364,514 – The number of operational sortes flown during World War 2
125,000 – Aircrew served in Bomber Command during World War 2
55,573 – Bomber Command Aircrew killed on Operations during World War 2
6,680 – Tons of food dropped over Holland in 1945 as part of Operation Manna
28% – Of aircrew killed were from countries other than the UK