War hero’s mis­sion for RAF me­mo­rial

Daily Express - - LIVES REMEMBERED - Doug Rad­cliffe

AS of the RAF Bomber Com­mand As­so­ci­a­tion, Doug Rad­cliffe made it his life’s work to en­sure that the sac­ri­fice made by 55,573 of his fallen com­rades should never be for­got­ten.

Even in his early 90s he was still giv­ing ed­u­ca­tional tours about the role of Bomber Com­mand in the Sec­ond World War three times a week at the Royal Air Force mu­seum. And it was his idea to fund a per­ma­nent me­mo­rial to the men who gave their lives for their coun­try. That trib­ute fi­nally be­came a re­al­ity in 2012 when the Queen un­veiled the £8mil­lion Port­land stone mon­u­ment in cen­tral Lon­don’s Green Park.

It was a cause close to the hearts of Daily Ex­press read­ers who do­nated £1mil­lion to the fund, in ad­di­tion to the £500,000 given by Daily Ex­press owner Richard Des­mond. For Mr Rad­cliffe, who was awarded an MBE for his ser­vices to the Bomber Com­mand As­so­ci­a­tion, see­ing the me­mo­rial built was a dream come true.

Speak­ing shortly be­fore the un­veil­ing the vet­eran, who flew many mis­sions as a wire­less op­er­a­tor, said: “When the me­mo­rial is re­vealed I will think of the pi­lot and the rear gun­ner of my first crew who are both buried in Ger­many. They were among thou­sands of young men who died. There has been noth­ing to salute them.”

Dou­glas Rad­cliffe, who lived in Lon­don his en­tire life, first joined the RAF a month be­fore his 18th birth­day. Prior to this he had been a mes­sen­ger boy at the BBC but when Broad­cast­ing House was bombed dur­ing the Blitz in Oc­to­ber 1940 and Rad­cliffe saw seven bod­ies be­ing brought out of the mu­sic li­brary he de­cided to join up.

Af­ter be­ing trained as a wire­less op­er­a­tor and put on a gun­nery course, Rad­cliffe was sent to North Africa in 1943 to re­plen­ish de­pleted squadrons there.

On the way their plane crashed and he sus­tained shoul­der and back in­juries which re­sulted in a lengthy hos­pi­tal stay and ul­ti­mately saved his life. By the war’s end the crew’s pi­lot and rear gun­ner had both been shot down and killed.

Fol­low­ing the end of the war he worked as a cine-tech­ni­cian for sev­eral Bri­tish film stu­dios.

He be­came sec­re­tary of the Bomber Com­mand As­so­ci­a­tion in 1985, a role he con­tin­ued to ful­fil un­til ear­lier this year when he was made pres­i­dent. He is sur­vived by a son and daugh­ter.

HON­OUR: Doug Rad­cliffe

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