Lack of bomber medal 'national disgrace' – MP
AN MP has described the failure to award a campaign medal to veterans of Bomber Command as a "national disgrace".
Jack Lopresti said the government would face "resentment" from veterans and their families if a review of medals did not recommend special recognition of the air crews who took the fight to the Nazis in the darkest days of the Second World War.
Mr Lopresti is the constituency MP of George Rudge, 87, a Lancaster bomber engineer who was shot down on his eighth mission over Germany.
Mr Rudge, of Staple Hill, survived and ended the conflict as a prisoner of war. But thousands of his comrades were less fortunate; of the 125,000 crew members who served in Bomber Command, 55,573 were killed in action – the worst casualty rate of any British armed force during the war. A further 8,403 were wounded.
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Speaking of his experiences last month, Mr Rudge told the Post he had never worn any of the medals from his service in the RAF, because the one he believes he and his comrades deserved – a campaign medal for those who took part in Bomber Command missions over occupied Europe – was never struck.
He believes that, even 67 years after the end of the conflict there is still time to overturn Sir Winston Churchill's refusal to give Bomber Command veterans their own medal.
Conservative Mr Lopresti agrees and says he has long been campaigning on the issue, both in Parliament and lobbying the Government.
The Filton and Bradley Stoke MP has a personal interest in the issue – his own grandfather, Huey Michael Keegan, emigrated from the neutral Irish Republic aged 17 and enlisted in the RAF as a rear gunner, taking part in raids over Germany, the Mediterranean and Malaya, where his plane was shot down by Japanese and he spent several weeks in the jungle.
Mr Lopresti said: "I find it staggering and a matter of national disgrace that Bomber Command veterans and their families are still fighting for a campaign medal which they earned the right to in the most desperate and perilous of situations – a recognition which they most certainly deserve."
Mr Lopresti said the government was carrying out a review into medals which included the possibility of a Bomber Command campaign medal. A report is expected to be published soon.
Mr Rudge said: "It's only fitting that after all these years Bomber Command now has a memorial and I'm really pleased that out MP, Jack Lopresti, is working to persuade the government to issue a Bomber Command campaign medal."
Mr Rudge's son, Chris, said it was "great news" that Mr Lopresti was lobbying for a Bomber Command medal to be struck.
He is encouraging people to show their support on the government's e-petition website.
The petition calling on Parliament to debate the issue has been launched at epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22953.