Bomber Command suffered a higher casualty rate than any other part of the British military during the Second World War and almost half of those serving with Bomber Command died, many killed by night fighters and anti-aircraft fire in raids over occupied Europe. 55,573 young men died flying with Bomber Command, that’s more than those who serve in the entire Royal Air Force today.
Fighter Command was established in July 1936 under the command of Sir Hugh Dowding. During World War Two, Fighter Command earned great fame during the Battle of Britain in 1940, when the Few held off the Luftwaffe attack on Britain.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
John Gillespie Magee Jr. RCAF