This week, we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the celebrated Dambusters raid, one of the most daring operations by the RAF during WWII.
On this evening in 1943, after just two months of preparation, 133 hand-picked airmen in 19 specially adapted Lancaster bombers set out on a bombing raid with the aim of breaching three dams in the Ruhr Valley and thereby slowing down the production of arms by Nazi Germany.
Of the 19 crews which had set out on the raid, eight did not return. In total, 53 men were killed and three ended up as prisoners of war.
The Dambusters raid was just one of many thousands carried out by RAF Bomber Command during WWII. Of the 125,000 men who served in Bomber Command, a total of 55,573 died.
As guardians of the Bomber Command Memorial in London, the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund is committed to ensuring that the remarkable bravery and sacrifice of these young aircrew, who gave their lives defending our freedom during WWII, will always be remembered.
To this end, we have pledged to raise £1.5 million to preserve the Memorial for future generations.
This month we are also publishing 53 blogs, each dedicated to one of the 53 men who died in the raid. Visit www.rafbf.org/dambusters.
Air Marshal Christopher Nickols
Controller of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund