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Former Romford schoolboy will be honoured in Bomber Command Memorial

PUBLISHED: 12:49 21 June 2012

Flt Lt Robert Manvell at Buckingham Palace where he was presented with his DFC

Flt Lt Robert Manvell at Buckingham Palace where he was presented with his DFC

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»A former Romford schoolboy killed on his 52nd flying mission will be remembered with thousands of others at the unveiling of a memorial to crews from Bomber Command – almost exactly 68 years after his death.

Acting Flight Lieutenant Robert Manvell, known as Bob to family and friends, failed to return home from a sortie to Coubronne, France, on May 23, 1944.

Aged 24, he was among one in three from Bomber Command’s who never returned home between 1939 and 1945.

Next Thursday the Queen will unveil 9ft sculptures of a seven-man bomber crew – a memorial to the 55,000 men of Bomber Command who died fighting the Nazis during the Second World War.

The engineer, who went to Royal Liberty School in Upper Brentwood Road, flew 21 of his missions with the Pathfinder Force.

They marked targets for bombers against the most heavily-defended cities – widely considered one of the most dangerous jobs.

Before his death, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) by the King, which said that Bob’s “skill and courage have been an example to all.”

Tribute

Fred Schofield, an old boy of the Royal Liberty – where a memorial window remembers Bob and all past pupils who died in wars – paid tribute to the flying hero.

“He was the bravest of the brave – and just a boy,” he said. “He went into enemy territory first, and came up against anti-aircraft fire and fighter pilots.

“He flew 52 missions, which is a heck of a lot. A lot didn’t make that many.”

He added: “The memorial is a long time coming. Those of Bomber Command were treated as war criminals – now they are being given the recognition they deserve for the sacrifice they made.”

The money for the £5.5million memorial, in Green Park, London, was raised by campaigners through public donations.

Bob is buried with the rest of his Lancaster bomber crew who died in Zuytpeene – a small village in northern France.

The navigator was the only one able to bale out from the stricken craft.

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