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The Bee Gee behind new Bomber Command memorial

14 May 10 17:28 GMT

He is part of one of the most successful pop groups of all time, has sold millions of records, and was made a CBE by the Queen in 2001.

Now Bee Gee Robin Gibb lists the role he has played in securing a permanent memorial to the heroes of RAF Bomber Command among his proudest achievements.

The singer and songwriter has campaigned for over two years for a monument commemorating the 55,573 members of Bomber Command that lost their lives during World War II.

And Westminster City Council has now given planning permission for a £3.5m pavilion to be built at the Piccadilly entrance to Green Park in central London.

'Heroes to me'

"The planning permission was almost like the final hurdle," said Mr Gibb, who described his efforts to make the memorial a reality as a "personal mission".

"These guys have always been heroes to me.

"They took the war into the heart of Nazi Europe and they managed to keep the enemy at bay.

"A lot of them took off knowing there was a good chance they were not going to come back."

During World War II, RAF Bomber Command was tasked with attacking the enemy's military strength, by bombing Germany's airbases, troops, shipping and industries connected to the war effort.

Made up of volunteers with an average age of just 22, Bomber Command suffered the highest casualty rate of any unit during World War II, but until now has never been given an official public memorial.

Some attribute this to the controversy surrounding the devastating impact of heavy raids carried out on German cities such as Dresden.

But Mr Gibb said objectors "should be ashamed of themselves".

"We were fighting not just for ourselves but for the whole of Europe, and the rest of the world in the long term.

"We did not purposely go out of our way to bomb any major city, including Dresden, just as a criminal act," he said, adding that the raid had been requested by war leaders including Stalin.

"Growing up in Australia and spending time in America I saw how loud and proud they were of their men who fought in Bomber Command in World War II.

"They make no apologies for it - they have absolutely nothing but admiration for what those men did in the European theatre.

"It's only in this country that they have not been recognised."

Mr Gibb said the memorial would serve as a permanent reminder of the sacrifice made by the crew of Bomber Command.

"It will show future generations what these men did," he said.

Mr Gibb said there was an extra element of urgency to the project given the advancing years of the surviving servicemen, now aged in their late 80s and 90s.

"They are completely over the moon because they did not think it would happen in their lifetime.

"This should have happened years ago, but for selfish reasons I'm glad it is happening now because I have been able to be part of it."

'Proud day'

A total of £1.5m has already been raised towards the memorial - but a further £2m is still needed to meet building and maintenance costs.

But the singer is unfazed by the shortfall, and has his sights set firmly on the finishing line.

"The support from the whole country has been phenomenal, and the money is pouring into the Bomber Command building fund."

Mr Gibb said all involved were hoping the finished memorial would be unveiled at Hyde Park Corner in November 2011 - 66 years after the end of World War II.

"It will be a very proud day," he said.

"I feel like this has been one of the principal quests of my life."

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