The Yorkshire Air Museum’s new Bomber Command exhibition Against the Odds received a flying start on Wednesday 19th March when it was officially opened by Sir David Jason OBE, widely regarded as one of Britain’s most popular actors.
An Honorary Member of the Museum and aviation enthusiast, Sir David arrived in some style by flying in by helicopter for this auspicious occasion, to the delight of over 1000 visitors who turned up for the occasion. Sir David graciously signed many autographs before going on to ‘inspect’ a contingent of new Royal Air Force recruits from nearby RAF Leconfield and some cadets from 2388 (Castleford) Air Training Corps.
After being shown into the new exhibition, Sir David chatted to several veterans of Bomber Command who have had a long association with the Museum, and he was clearly moved by hearing of their often harrowing experiences.
Produced in association with Imperial War Museum, “Against the Odds” details and explores the international reasons for the formation of this unique force and the unparalleled sacrifice of its young airman, many just in their late teens, from all over the world. With over 55 800 killed in action or as prisoner of war, no fighting group saw such heavy losses, but, perhaps because of the later controversy over the consequence of aerial bombing on civilian populations, no campaign medal has ever been issued to the brave volunteers of Bomber Command. The stunning exhibition stands in an original wartime building on this former Bomber Command Station, and the large display panels with striking, and even controversial, imagery are interspersed with artefacts and audio visual displays.
Providing a wealth of easily extractable factual information, Against the Odds will be an excellent educational resource for school parties and groups and associations and anyone engaged in lifelong learning objectives. It forms an excellent base upon which to start a tour of the Museum, which most of the existing displays and resources link into, facilitating a more in depth exploration of some topics.
Museum Director, Ian Reed, said: “This exhibition, which is of national standard and scale, will bring the story of Bomber Command to a younger generation in keeping with the objectives of this unique Memorial to Allied Air Forces. This is probably the most fitting place in Britain for it to be located and we are especially pleased and honoured that our Life Member, Sir David Jason, was able to take time out from a hectic filming schedule to open Against the Odds on our behalf.”
In a major endorsement for the Museum speaking in television interviews, Sir David said how proud he was to be associated with the Yorkshire Air Museum & Allied Air Forces Memorial and how important places like this were in ensuring the memory of all those who gave their lives is never forgotten.
Opening the new display, Sir David said, “I feel very close to the RAF being a pilot myself. When you think about it these crews didn’t give their lives, their lives were taken from them and when you consider over 55,000 never came back in order to defend democracy, we must never forget what they gave.”
With such an understanding of aviation and his well known support for the Royal Air Force and RAF Benevolent Fund, there could not have been a better person to open the exhibition for us and this high profile launch has already resulted in a dramatic surge in visitor numbers.