I hope you took a moment for Remembrance yesterday.
I'd like to introduce you to my great-uncle, Tom Rawlinson. He hailed from Preston, Lancashire, and he flew with the Royal Canadian Air Force.
From an RCAF page:
May 24/25, 1944
30 Lancasters from 408 and 419 Squadrons were joined by 60 Halifaxes from 424, 427, 429, and 433 Squadrons on an attack of the 2 railyards at Aachen. The crews were over the target at between 16,000 and 20,000 feet, releasing 810,000 lbs of high explosives. According to reports, one rail yard was severely damaged with some damage to the others.
F/Lt T. Rawlinson RCAF and crew, flying Halifax III LW-137 coded AL-K, failed to return from this operation.
P/O A. Bates RAF
P/O G. Caunt RAF–POW
P/O A. Murphy RCAF
P/O W. Bush RAF–POW
P/O A. Shierlaw RCAF–POW
P/O J. Cochrane RCAF
4 crew were killed and 3 POWs after being shot down by a Nightfighter.
It happens that I wrote a paper many years ago which included a rundown on how tough a nut Aachen was to crack. It was essential to the drive into Europe and on to Berlin that the Allies have access, but Aachen was heavily fortified. Which is presumably why there are so many repetitions on that page:
"All were lost without a trace."
"Failed to return from this operation."
When you look at the list, you see men from different walks of life, from different environments. FLt Rawlinson grew up in sooty, industrial England but wound up serving in the blue skies of Canada, as a member of the R-C-AF, not the RAF. Maybe he intended to emigrate. Whatever the case, they were out there putting their asses on the line because they knew that what they were fighting was evil in the classic sense.
I believe his bones are buried in a Dutch cemetary, and that they take good care of him. Because we all know that if not for his effort and sacrifice and that of all those others like him, I'd be posting this in German.
I'd also like to take a moment to think of the poor bastards in Iraq, as well as those (including some Canadians) in Afghanistan, Haiti, and other places where they don't get nearly as much attention.