A memorial to the British airmen who died fighting in the Second World War has been badly damaged again – the fourth time in six years – by vandals who also attacked a statue of Winston Churchill.
The Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, central London, has been covered with white paint overnight and CCTV of the incident has already been handed to Scotland Yard.
Wreaths left for the dead and a photograph of airman Stanley Forsyth, who died recently aged 98, have also been splattered with paint.
The bronze sculpture, built to remember the 55,573 men of Bomber Command who never came home, has been badly damaged four times since the £7million monument was opened by the Queen in June 2012.
The Met also revealed today that the same vandals may have targeted the statue of Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt on nearby New Bond Street.
Vernon Morgan, 97, who flew Lancaster bombers in the Second World War, told MailOnline today: ‘It’s a disgrace. One wonders what motivates such things, when all they did was their duty helping this country in a war. The monument is recognition of 55,000 people who lost their lives to help defeat the Nazis.
He added: ‘Some of these people have been taken with the supposedly dastardly things they did to Dresden and think that they are criminals, but these men gave their lives so that this country could be free.’
The Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park has been defaced overnight causing outrage
White paint has been thrown all over the front and back of the statue remembering the 55,000 men who made the ultimate sacrifice
The vandals have even thrown paint all over a picture and wreath for pilot Stanley Forsyth, who died recently aged 98
Vandals have also daubed white paint on the ‘Allies’ bench in New Bond Street featuring bronze figures of Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt (pictured today)
Vernon Morgan, 97, (circled next to Prince William) who flew Lancaster bombers in the Second World War, told MailOnline the attacks are a ‘disgrace’
Air Commodore Charles Clarke, 95, chairman of the Bomber Command Association and president of the Prisoners of War Association who flew Lancaster bombers and spent one and half years in Stalag Luft III, condemned the attack.
‘It’s crazy isn’t it, a terrible thing. It’s a monument to over 50,000 men and it’s totally mindless to deface it like that.
‘It will be a major effort to clean it up – and what is the point? It doesn’t alter anything, no one will have their mind changed by a bit of paint on a monument.’
Almost half of the 125,000 men who served with Bomber Command lost their lives in the conflict – but the survivors were denied a dedicated war medal because of the number of German civilians killed in large-scale bombing raids.
Before the memorial was built the then mayor of Dresden flew to London to try to get it scrapped because of Britain’s devastating bombing raid on the German city in February 1945.
A photograph from Lt Col Paul Smyth has revealed the scale of the damage in a tweet captioned: ‘Utterly tragic. #lestweforget’.
Followers have expressed their anger and grief.
Stephen Pringle tweeted: ‘Paint can be cleaned, the sacrifice made by the young men of Bomber Command endures, and will endure. I fear there is still too little understanding of what they went through’.
Philippa Ratcliffe wrote: ‘The mind numbing senselessness of this makes me speechless and bloody angry’.
Jo Collins said: Absolute f****rs. This really makes my blood boil’.
The entire memorial had been cordoned off this morning after the attack was discovered at 8.30am
The RAF Benevolent Fund has said that the clean-up will start straight away and cost thousands
The memorial remembers the 55,000 people who died flying for Britain in WW2 – almost half of all those who signed up
Paint has been splashed across the entire Memorial, including the statue of eight Bomber Command crew members which stands at its centre, the marble plinth it stands upon and the surrounding Portland stone.
Work to repair the damage has begun immediately but it is expected to cost thousands to repair.
Bronze statues of Franklin D Roosevelt and Winston Churchill on a bench in New Bond Street have also been attacked.
A Met spokesman said: ‘Police in Westminster are investigating reports of criminal damage to two statues.
Police received a report of criminal damage to the Winston Churchill statue at New Bond Street at 07.54amhrs on Monda.
‘At 08.28am that same day, damage to the Bomber Command memorial in Green Park, Piccadilly was reported. In both cases white paint had been splashed on the statues.
Officers from Westminster investigate – there have been no arrests’.
The attacks have caused outrage.
Chief Executive of the RAF Benevolent Fund David Murray said: ‘The RAF Benevolent Fund is proud to serve as guardians of the Memorial, built to commemorate the 55,573 members of Bomber Command who died in its service during the Second World War.
‘This is the worst example of vandalism we have seen at the Memorial and it is utterly heart-breaking to see the memory of all those brave airmen disrespected in this way. This despicable act took just moments but will take considerable time and resources to put right. But like the remarkable men who the Memorial commemorates, we will not rest until we have finished the job.
‘CCTV footage from the area has been passed to police to assist with their investigation.’
A Royal Air Force Lancaster Bomber drops poppies during the opening of the Bomber Command Memorial in 2012 to commemorate the loss of 55,573 airmen in the Second World War
But since its opening it has become a target – here is CCTV of the masked man who damaged it badly in 2013
One vandal wrote: ‘Lee Rigby’s killers should hang’ on it (left) and another criminal wrote ‘Islam’ in the stone – both costing thousands to repair
Police are inspecting CCTV from the surrounding area to find the perpetrators.
The £7 million memorial has been targeted by vandals four times since it was unveiled in June 2012.
Ben Parker, 43, from east London said: ‘They are vandalising quite harmless things really.
‘If it’s happened four times, it’s not a senseless attack but I don’t know why they would do this.
‘My dad actually flew in the Second World War and I think it’s actually quite a nice thing it’s not offensive in anyway.
‘It’s something with a past, I could understand if it as a modern sculpture put up for the Iraq war or something, but I can’t really see it as a problem remembering the dead that are long gone.
‘The way the vandalism was done, it almost looks artistic.
‘There’s been a few things in the past where things have been vandalised for the sake of it, but this would have taken some time to do because of the amount of splatter.
‘Hopefully it will clean off and it won’t affect people paying their respects.
‘I work near here and walk through most days.’
A similar incidence of vandalism also occurred over the weekend to The Allies Statue of Winston Churchill in Franklin D. Roosevelt on close by New Bond Street.
White paint was smeared around the mouth of Churchill and the shirt of Roosevelt.
The statue celebrates the relationship between the two leaders.
Canada Memorial was also damaged over the weekend, but it is not yet known if the attacks are linked.
Speaking about the Bombers Command Memorial Melissa Richie, 44, said: ‘Whoever did this is terrible – I hope they are caught.
‘I think they should have more cameras because this has happened before.
‘At least it is quite artistic, it looks like a Jason Pollock painting with the paint splattered like that.
‘Perhaps the white paint is for peace but that is not the way to go about it.
‘I walk this way through the park so I can go past the memorial because I like it and I was not expecting this.’
The bomber command formed in 1936 and played an important role from the start of World war two. The bomber command was made up of 125,000 men all of whom had volunteered towards the war effort and achieved a notable victory.
A quote from Winston Churchill inscribed on the wall of the Bomber Command Memorial reads: ‘The fighters are our salvation, but the bombers alone provide the means of victory.’
Similar graffiti was sprayed on the Animals in War memorial, in nearby Park Lane, in recent years
The most recent attack was in 2017 when vandals spray-painted the word ‘Jesus’ in metre-high blue letters on its exterior Portland stone pillars
As well as the bronze statue, the memorial’s roof incorporates sections of aluminium recovered from a Handley Page Halifax III bomber shot down over Belgium on the night of 12 May 1944, in which eight crew died.
But it has been regularly targeted over the years.
Vandals previously spray-painting the word ‘Jesus’ in metre-high blue letters on its exterior Portland stone pillars.
The repairs were said to have cost tens of thousands of pounds because the paint had soaked into the stone.
In May 2013, Andrew Patterson, of Westminster, spraypainted the word ‘Islam’ on the front of the memorial, as well as writing the same thing on the Animal In War memorial in Hyde Park.
He was later detained under the mental health act.
And a week after Patterson’s vandalism, it was attacked again, this time by Daniel Smith, of Salford, Greater Manchester.
Smith wrote ‘Lee Rigby’s killers should hang’, in a reference to the fusilier who was murdered in May 2013, and ‘EDL’ in reference to the far-right English Defence League.
He was jailed for 12 weeks for criminal damage.
Anyone who has information is asked to call Westminster CID by dialling 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
How 55,000 bombers lost their lives in WW2 – half of all the airmen who fought the Nazis from the air
The RAF Bomber Command was responsible for the strategic bombing of Germany during the Second World War and took a terrible toll.
When the command was founded in 1936 it was only intended to be a deterrent, but the reality when war broke out three years later was very different.
Bomber command crews suffered incredibly high casualty rates. A total of 55,573 died out of 125,000 (44.4 per cent mortality rate), 8,403 were injured and 9,838 became prisoners of war.
Most who flew were very young and the vast majority were still in their late teens. Crews came from across the globe – from the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and all corners of the Commonwealth, as well as from occupied nations including Poland, France and Czechoslovakia.
It took astonishing courage to endure the conditions they faced. Flying at night over occupied Europe, running the gauntlet of German night fighters, anti-aircraft fire and mid-air collisions.
The RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF’s bomber forces from 1936 to 1968 and was responsible for the strategic bombing of Germany during the Second World War
But it was not until 1942 that the Bomber Command gained a real sense of direction, with the introduction of Air Marshal Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris.
Harris was appointed as commander in chief of Bomber Command in February 1942, with instructions to start attacking German industry, much of which was located in large cities.
His objective was to destroy Germany’s industrial might and create a collapse in the morale of the civilian workforce, breaking Germany’s will to fight on.
Times were hard. Victory seemed distant, and chivalric notions of war fighting had been burned away in the fire of the Blitz. U-Boats were roaming the Atlantic, sinking merchant shipping in an effort to starve Britain into submission.
The prospects of success were uncertain. Morale among British workers had largely held firm in the teeth of prolonged attacks by the German Air Force.
Harris, however, firmly believed that through a combination of improved aircraft like the Lancaster and Halifax, better training and navigational aids, and a ruthless will to press the attack, Bomber Command could knock Germany out of the war.
Bomber command crews suffered incredibly high casualty rates. A total of 55,573 died out of 125,000 (44.4 per cent mortality rate), 8,403 were injured and 9,838 became prisoners of war. Pictured: Wellington Bomber air crew who took part in the raid on Heligoland
In May 1942, Harris launched his first ‘thousand bomber raid’ against Cologne.
The scale of the attacks shocked Germany, but the country continued to fight. Further attacks did have a devastating effect on the Nazi war economy.
Albert Speer, the German armaments minister, believed that a series of raids like that on Hamburg in August 1943, repeated in quick succession, might well have compelled Germany to surrender. But that wasn’t the case.
Other more specialised operations also took place. The famous ‘Dam Busters’ raid of May 1943 shocked the world with its audacity, as Guy Gibson’s 617 Squadron launched a daring raid on the dams surrounding the Ruhr Valley.
Other attacks, like that on the battleship Tirpitz the following year, eliminated the German navy’s last major surface ship.
Raids in 1944 and 1945 against German ‘V weapon’ launch sites were also a crucial defensive measure, helping to limit attacks from flying bombs and rockets on British cities.
Bomber Command switched its attentions to tactical objectives in early 1944, helping to pave the way for D-Day, the allied invasion of occupied Europe.
It played a vital and highly effective role attacking infrastructure around the invasion beaches. Attacking railways, roads and other transport links created chaos behind German lines, preventing the defending forces from massing to repel the landings.
The closing months of the war saw arguably the most controversial operations, such as the raid on Dresden in February 1945.
In four huge raids by the RAF and United States Army Air Force, a firestorm destroyed the city centre and killed thousands of civilians.
It took astonishing courage to endure the conditions they faced. Flying at night over occupied Europe, running the gauntlet of German night fighters, anti-aircraft fire and mid-air collisions. Pictured: Bomber Command crews prepare for the raid on Heligoland
The planners of the raid argued the city was a vital communications hub and needed to be targeted. The critics said that Germany was well beaten and the bombing was needless.
The truth is that it was a time of total war, and ideas about the boundaries of conflict were very different than those we have today.
Bomber Command did not win the Second World War independently – but the war could not have been won without their efforts.
The RAF’s attacks forced Germany to divert invaluable men, guns, aircraft and equipment to defend its airspace, effectively opening a second front long before D-Day.
The young men of Bomber Command faced dangers that today we can barely imagine, all in defence of our freedom. Their sacrifice and extraordinary courage should never be forgotten.
Source: Bomber Command Memorial