Bomber Command Memorial, Green Park, London

Liam O'Connor
Date Built
Green Park and Piccadilly
The Bomber Command memorial in Green Park was finally unveiled by the Queen in 2012 after a prolonged period during which supporters of the memorial had to overcome controversy about the role of Bomber Command and find the estimated £5.6m required to build it.

The architect of the building, that houses Philip Jackson's sculpture, was Liam O'Connor.  The Royal Airforce Benevolent Fund website says of the memorial that it is, " ... built to be modern, yet classical, in Portland stone.   ... The design for the roof incorporates sections of aluminium recovered from a Handley Page Halifax III bomber (LW682 from No. 426 squadron) shot down over Belgium on the night of 12 May 1944, in which eight crew were killed."  Gordon Rayner, chief reporter with the Telegraph added that, "O’Connor paid such attention to detail that even the rivets holding the metal ceiling together are exact scale replicas of those used in bomber aircraft."

It should be noted though that not all the comments about the new memorial have been positive.  "O'Connor is one of a group of classicising architects who blossom in proximity to royal palaces, where they are suddenly fertilised as by a rich humus by the favour of the Prince of Wales, and he is not the worst. His memorial has some kind of simplicity, at least, which compares favourably to the Gilbert and Sullivan additions recently made to Kensington Palace. But it still reeks of the application of special favours, and the suspension of judgment .... Its style is amnesiac classical, with ranks of Doric columns surmounted by a weirdly puny balustrade, a version of historic architecture that never precisely existed, but is also oblivious to anything that might have happened, culturally or technologically, in the last several decades."

Inside the building stands a group of seven bronze aviators rising 9 feet above the plinth.  It depicts the men at the end of a mission standing on the airfield looking skywards for planes that have yet to return.  The impressive sculpture is the result of extensive research by Jackson who, " ... borrowed original flying suits and equipment from the RAF Museum in Hendon, interviewed veterans and studied countless photographs to ensure every strap, buckle and harness was precisely recreated."

As the memorial indicates, it is dedicated to the 55,573 airmen from the UK, Commonwealth, & Allied Nations who served in Bomber Command and lost their lives in WWII.  Around the feet of the giant airmen the public have left flowers, photographs, and messages dedicated to their relatives who are honoured by the memorial.