Heroes Return Blog – Stories from Second World War veterans’ trips

Podcast – “My time in Bomber Command” by The National Lottery Community Fund

The historic unveiling of the first national memorial to RAF Bomber Command takes place today at Green Park, London. We were lucky enough to talk to veteran Harry Irons, who flew 60 missions during World War Two.

Now aged 88, Harry talks about some of his wartime memories, his Heroes Return trip to France and what it means to finally see a memorial for Bomber Command.

In 1941 Harry Irons volunteered for air crew duty with Bomber Command. He was only 16 but added a year to his age and was accepted for gunnery training.

Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by King George VI in 1944, Harry was promoted to Warrant Officer and went on to survive 60 raids over the Ruhr, Munich, Nuremberg, and Northern France, flying as a rear gunner in Lancaster and Halifax bombers.

Harry was living in London when war broke out. After witnessing the devastation of the Blitz he decided to volunteer as aircrew, and was assigned to 9 Squadron based at Waddington in Lincolnshire from where he flew 37 missions in Lancaster X for X-ray.

Harry, who has worked tirelessly to help raise funds for the memorial, will be attending the official unveiling of the Bomber Command memorial in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen, and members of the Royal family.

Bomber Command veteran Harry Irons

Bomber Command veteran Harry Irons

Looking forward to the historic day, he said: “As part of a crew you got to know each other, you were like family. We lost so many brave men. But we are over the moon. We are so grateful at last to be able to do something for the boys. At last we have got some recognition”.

For more information on the Heroes Return programme and the funding that is available for World War Two veterans, call the advice line on 0845 00 00 121

7 Comments so far
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We must never, ever forget

Comment by Anne Williams

Thankyou to Harry and all who served in bomber command, I have too young children and will teach them about the war and the raids that you carried out on our behalf,thanks to yourself and many like you,you are all amazing people.

Comment by Dale

We would like to express our gratitude to Harry and all of those in bomber command, it was the guts and determination of these brave guys
that made sure we would not end as a bar of soap!
We had the good fortune to meet Harry whilst on holiday in the I.O Wight, he was with a friend at Osbourne House, we had a good chat With him, very enlightening.
Thanks Harry it was an honour meeting a true British hero.
John & Vicki, Cambridgeshire.

Comment by john gould

The sheer courage, determination and technical ability of Bomber Command and it’s great Leader Sir Arthur Harris, at long last have been recognised. Without the guts of what were young lads, at that time, Britain would have been doomed. The few veterans surviving deserve the utmost respect and recognition.May God Bless You All.
Terry K Offord (Ex RAF).

Comment by Terry K Offord

I went to Hornchurch library yesterday and met Harry and his two other colleagues, i was left feeling what a great man he is and those who did not survive, the age they were and what they were doing is beyond comprehension in our times now, amazing.

Comment by Rob Dyer

Thanks for your comment. We’ve had the honour of speaking to lots of WW2 veterans funded through the programme – humbled by their stories.

Comment by Big Lottery Fund

I have spoken with Harry Irons, what a marvellous man. He flew many missions with my mother’s cousin in 9 Squadron and has told me such a lot about him that we didn’t know. The cousin, Flt Lt William Colson DFM, transferred to 97 Squadron, Pathfinders, and was killed on 17th December 1943 – which became known as Black Thursday (16th September – when they took off for Berlin) due to the very many crew who lost their lives when returning to their bases in dense fog. The book, “Fire by Night,” written by Jennie Gray tells the tragic story of 97 Squadron, Bourn, Cambridgeshire.

Comment by Wyn Harrison (Mrs)

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