Published on Thu, 06/14/2007 by National Council of Veteran Associations

VETERANS GROUP CONCERNED WITH LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF WAR MUSEUM BOMBER COMMAND DISPLAY

Senate Sub-Committee Suggests Further Negotiation

“The war record of Bomber Command could be damaged by controversy over the morality of bombing civilian targets.”

This was the statement of Cliff Chadderton, Chairman of the National Council of Veteran Associations (56 member organizations), on reviewing the Senate Sub-Committee report issued today regarding the controversial Bomber Command panel in the Canadian War Museum.

The NCVA will increase its efforts to develop a positive image regarding the contribution of Canadian and other allied squadrons in carrying out bombing raids which brought about the eventual victory against Germany in World War II.

“We suggest that the refusal to change an explanatory panel in regard to the bombing campaign underscores the danger of leaving the public with an incorrect perception in respect to the courageous achievements of Canadians in Bomber Command, 10,000 of whom lost their lives,” Chadderton stated.

The NCVA, which has been conducting an in-depth review of the air war and its role in bringing about the eventual destruction of the Nazi-dominated occupation of European and other countries during the early part of the 1940s, has now adopted a counter-offensive against the War Museum.

Chadderton added that if the War Museum would not amend the panel as recommended by the Senate Sub-Committee, it would seem necessary that organizations directly connected with Bomber Command personnel would have to develop a strategy to override the damage created by the offensive panel.

In this connection, The War Amps is re-releasing a documentary titled The Boys of Kelvin High: Canadian in Bomber Command, which has won a number of prestigious film festival awards (for example, Gold Award – Worldfest Houston Film Festival). The War Amps first released the documentary in 2005. This re-release is done on a ‘no-cost’ basis and usually results in extremely wide circulation.

“The film, at least in our opinion, will do a great deal to restore the reputation of Canadians in Bomber Command,” Chadderton said.

Research indicates that the source of the War Museum criticism of RCAF bomber tactics first arose in a Canadian TV program titled The Valour and the Horror, broadcast on CBC on January 19, 1992.

The part of the series called Death by Moonlight was the subject of an investigation carried out by William Morgan, the former CBC Ombudsman.

Morgan’s conclusion was, in part: “…I believe it is clear why I find that the series as it stands is flawed and fails to measure up to CBC’s demanding policies and standards.”

Victor Rabinovitch, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation, commissioned a preliminary study on the panel.

David Bercuson of the History Department at the University of Calgary, concluded that the Allies were justified in supporting the strategic bombing of civilian areas in Germany. He found the offending paragraph on the Bomber Command display …“takes a side in the controversy and can be taken to imply that the bombing was a waste of resources and innocent human life.”

Another historian, Serge Bernier, Director of History for DND, told the Museum: “We must admit that we are faced with a failure. As far as I am concerned, I find it extremely unfortunate that the tremendous success of the museum xxx is hit by this unexpected setback.”

In a contrary opinion, Desmond Morton of McGill University told Dr. Rabinovitch, “…as I read the panel, it records and illustrates an irrefutable fact: there is a controversy. To change the wording because of pressure group intervention would qualify as a suppression of historical fact.”

Historian Margaret MacMillan of the University of Toronto concluded: “In my opinion, the exhibition was conceived and prepared in accordance with the standards one would expect from a distinguished and reputable museum.”

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For more information or to interview Cliff Chadderton, please contact Communications at 1-877-60MEDIA or e-mail communications@waramps.ca. Outside of office hours, Cliff Chadderton can be reached by calling 613 731-7170 until 11:00 p.m. EST.