Dambusters Squadron hero Tom Bennett to attend Green Park Bomber Command memorial unveiling
A DECORATED war veteran will attend the unveiling of a memorial on Thursday to commemorate RAF Bomber Command following difficulties getting him a ticket.
Squadron Leader Tom Bennett was a navigator who flew dozens of dangerous missions with the 617 Dambusters Squadron, which was set up to raid dams vital to the German war effort.
But it was thought the 93-year-old, who lives at the Prince George Duke Of Kent Court care home in Chislehurst, would not be able to attend the ceremony as his family had been unable to get tickets.
The £7.5m Bomber Command Memorial will be unveiled by the Queen in front of 5,000 veterans and their families in Green Park to remember the loss of 55,573 young Bomber Command airmen in the Second World War.
It includes a nine foot high bronze sculpture depicting seven Bomber Command aircrew.
Last week Mr Bennett's daughter Lynn Head, 65, managed to secure a pair of tickets to the ceremony after months of trying.
She said: "It's fantastic, it will give my father a really good boost.
"He was expected to be told he was not going.
"When he gets there I'm sure he'll be very emotional, when he realises what it all means."
Mr Bennett, who was awarded a Distinguished Flying Medal, often gave talks about the Bomber Command and wrote a book recording his experiences called 617 Squadron: The Dambusters at War.
On the issue of ticketing, his daughter said: "I don't know what happened. (Last week) they confirmed they'd received my emails and we'd been allocated tickets, but they'd never acknowledged any emails.
"I would love to see the guest list.
"Obviously you'd expect to see Cameron and the other two but why should there be any other MPs? I'd be interested to see if there are.
"But I'm just grateful we've got tickets."
When allocating tickets, the Bomber Command Association said it had prioritised veterans, along with those who lost one or more of the airmen who died.
The association's chairman Malcolm White said: "We have done our best to accommodate as many veterans as we can, mindful that if we go over our limit there will not be enough seating, toilets or stewarding support.
"We are keeping the number of ‘invited guests’, other than those who will be working on the day, to a minimum."