Over the last few years Remembrance Day has become a very special occasion at North Lakes School and this year was no exception. On Monday 11 November we were honoured to welcome Mr Harry Dobinson, Taylor’s granddad, who was a rear gunner in a Lancaster and flew thirty missions in 1944 and 1945 with RAF Bomber Command. Amazingly, Harry Dobinson was photographed in 1945: 3rd from left in this picture: He also features on the front cover of a recent book, “Tail End Charlies”:
Mr Dobinson is the last surviving member of his particular crew, and he laid the poppy wreath with his grandson Taylor, to remember the sacrifice made by so many young men in the RAF, and all services in wars past and present.
The Remembrance assembly included poetry, wartime film, photos and music and told the story of the airmen of Bomber Command, who in 1943 had a life expectancy of just six weeks, and over 55,500 men were killed.
We learned that out of every 100 men who joined Bomber Command…
- 55 were killed or died of their wounds
- 4 were injured
- 12 were taken prisoner
- 2 were shot down and escaped capture
- And only 27 were lucky enough to survive a tour of operations, like Taylor’s grandad!
After the assembly, Mr Dobinson stayed for a question and answer session with children and recounted some of his wartime experiences. He flew in pitch darkness in a perspex bubble at the very tail of a plane (see above) loaded with 5 tons of bombs, and 2,000 gallons of petrol in temperatures of 40 degrees below zero- the courage needed was truly mind blowing, but Mr Dobinson said he was “not a hero- you just had to get on with it.”
At the same time, we remembered the many victims of war on all sides, men, women and children, and the “dreadful duty” that Bomber Command had to do. Over the course of the war, over 1 million tons of bombs were dropped and no one knows how many soldiers and civilians were killed in Germany– estimates range between 305,000 and 600,000.
And so, in hope that such a terrible war is never repeated, we prayed for peace.