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Royal Airforce Wing Commander Dick MacCormac's address included an introduction in fluent Danish. Included below is a transcript of the english portion of his speech:

Ladies and Gentlemen,
My father was 2 ½ years old when the aircraft EE138 came down in this field.  I think it is relevant to think about why it is important to be thinking about something that happened 65 years ago today.  For us, two generations later, it is easy to be blinded by the scale of what went on – over 55,000 people dead in Bomber Command alone, out of 125,000 total.  8,000 plus wounded, 9,838 prisoners of war.  The chances of survival were worse than being an infantry officer in World War One.

We are blinded by the scale of it, we are blinded by the time, we are blinded by the fact that it’s Europe and it’s unthinkable today that this sort of thing could happen.  And we are even blinded by the simple things like the photographs.  They are all black and white and for my generation the world went coloured in about the 1950’s.
I think it’s relevant for two main reasons, the first is in the symbolism of the people on board that aircraft and the people that are buried in various corners of Denmark today.  Onboard that aircraft were both Australians and people from the Royal Air Force.  The crew was a mixed crew; it was a Royal Australian Air Force Squadron working within the Royal Air Force in Bomber Command flying from the UK.  Around Denmark we have Australians, Canadians, Poles, Americans and British airmen buried in fields and in cemeteries.  In other countries, also working in Bomber Command - Czechs and even the Free French Air Force.  The point I am getting at is that the cooperation of the International community that was so important then in order to win over what was a power of oppression in Europe is so hugely important today.  So for that reason it’s important.

The other reason that I think we are blinded for is the individual heroism of the people that are involved.  Its easy for us, 60 years later, with the benefit of hindsight to be able to analyse and say – well, because of the combined affects of the Eastern Front and the Air Bridge over the Atlantic and the Battle of the Atlantic and the Battle of Britain and the war in the skies over Germany. Of course Germany was culminating and although the conclusion was going to take another couple of years, it was almost inevitable.  It’s easy for us, but for guys that were in their late teens and twenties on board that aircraft, they couldn’t do that, for them it was simply a matter of night after night in the dark in a machine that was noisy and a frightening environment – doing a bloody dangerous job, and simply getting up and doing it again and again and again and carrying on doing it -when over the course of three years their squadron was effectively wiped out 5 times.  That shows a human spirit to this and words like duty and courage and leadership and perseverance, and not least of all and most importantly sacrifice are words that come to mind when you look at the mound behind us.  Those words are probably as important today as they were then and we only need to think of the 16 Danish soldiers that have lost their lives in Afghanistan or the 3 Canadians that lost their lives yesterday and we begin to see how relevant these values are even today.

So, when we look at the little mound there, for three reasons – because of the need for international engagement, because of the need of the spirit of the people that still lie under that mound there, we need to remind ourselves that freedom had its price and continues to have its price and that’s why I am very proud to be here today.  Thank you.

 

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