Kilburn veteran WWII soldier, 91, marks Remembrance day
- Credit: Archant
As services took place across Brent to honour the war dead, a 91-year-old veteran from Kilburn has explained why he has made remembering lost comrades his life’s work.
At 91 years of age Douglas Radcliffe MBE, of Mortimer Crescent, has spent the last three decades supporting veterans as secretary of the RAF Bomber Command Association.
Currently based at the Royal Air Force museum in Grahame Park Way, he continues to work three days a week giving educational tours.
This week, he has attended services and remembrance events to ensure that the sacrifice made by more than 55,000 of his Bomber Command comrades is never forgotten.
Mr Radcliffe, who was awarded an MBE for his services to the Bomber Command Association, said: “The importance of remembering is never in any doubt. You know that we left behind 55,573 men.
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“Two of my first crew are buried in Germany. I am able to talk to you now from the safety of my home- it was because of the sacrifice of men like that that we are able to do that.”
Mr Radcliffe was just 17 years old when he signed up to serve as a wireless operator for the RAF in 1941.
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A former messenger boy at BBC broadcasting house, he soon found himself flying Lancaster and Wellington bombers in North Africa and Italy.
By the end of the war in 1945, Mr Radcliffe had seen many friends and respected colleagues die for their country and resolved their sacrifice would not be forgotten.
In 2012, he helped to raise £6m to fund a permanent memorial for the RAF Bomber Command in Green Park.
The veteran, who worked in the film business after the war, now regularly organises events for a three thousand- strong community of veterans.
He says it is “still important” to pay his respects in the company of those who lost friends and comrades on the front line.
He said: “On remembrance Sunday we had a full religious service at the RAF St Clement Dane’s Church and I laid a wreath in front of Sir Arthur Harris, commander in chief of bomber command.”
This Sunday Mr Radcliffe will meet with friends from the Bomber Command Association at the Marriot Hotel in Swiss Cottage and will discuss plans for the veterans’ Christmas lunch which is held every year at the Union Jack Club in Waterloo.
Asked what his message would be for those planning to commemorate the millions of men and women who gave their lives in conflict today he said: “You live in one of the best countries in the world- defend it if you have to.”
He added: “Wherever I go I will remember.”