New Zealand's Prime Minister has paid his respects to those who bravely defended Britain and the Commonwealth during the Second World War.
During his visit to the UK, John Key, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, visited the Bomber Command Memorial in London with UK Defence Minister Dr Andrew Murrison to lay a wreath in commemoration of the many New Zealanders who flew in Bomber Command squadrons during the Second World War.
The Bomber Command Memorial and statue was dedicated by Her Majesty The Queen on 28 June 2012 in memory of the 55,573 Bomber Command personnel and all those who lost their lives in the bombing campaign of the Second World War.
The memorial is now under the guardianship of the RAF Benevolent Fund, which is responsible for its lifelong care. In addition to this iconic national memorial, the UK government announced in December 2012 that it would be awarding a Clasp to the 1939-1945 Star to recognise the special contribution of the aircrews of Bomber Command, including those New Zealand personnel who served courageously alongside their British counterparts.
Approximately 140,000 men and women from New Zealand signed up and served their country with distinction during the Second World War. Many were tragically killed, and 3 serving in the RAF were awarded the Victoria Cross for their bravery and sacrifice.
Mr Key’s visit comes ahead of next year’s centenary of the First World War when both the UK and New Zealand will be launching a programme of commemorative events.
Dr Murrison, the UK Prime Minister’s special representative for the centenary commemoration of the First World War, said:
The centenary of the First World War is a time to commemorate all those who served from across the Commonwealth, and to explore together the causes, conduct and consequences of the defining event in our modern history. New Zealand stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the UK in both the First and Second World Wars, binding our 2 countries together inseparably.
Malcolm White, Chairman of the Bomber Command Association, added:
The visit by the Right Honourable John Key to the Bomber Command Memorial in London is the first by any prime minister representing the Commonwealth and allied nations, which were a key component of Bomber Command during World War Two.