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Bomber Command Aircrew Chronicles

Sgt. James Dunlop RCAF

A Canadian pilot, James Lennox Scott Dunlop and his crew
took off in a 12 Squadron Wellington to bomb Nazi Germany.
They made it back to England, then mysteriously bellied onto the California Sands on the Norfolk coast.
Tragically the aircraft blew up as it slid to a stop, killing all six crew on October 11, 1941.

'A special letter to his family, written on June 12, 1941, follows:

    Dear Mother and Father,

I have no reason to believe that this letter will ever be read since it will only be opened if and when I am killed, or at least listed as among those who 'failed to return'. I have no feeling of impending fate so please do not feel that I knew what lay ahead of me when I wrote this. I know that my duty, not only to my country and my humanity but to myself, lies ahead. I know that in carrying out my duty I must run great risks. Risks I may add that leave me little chance of seeing you again. Yet it is because of the risk, rather than any certainty, that I must write this letter.

Firstly, I want you to realize and try even to be proud, that you have given a man to the cause of human liberty.

Please do not make the error of mourning me on account of my youth. That youthfulness is only apparent to you because you are considerably older than most parents with a son of my age. Young as I am I have seen a great deal of the world and of the life of the world. I have lived in free countries among free peoples and have grown to manhood loving the liberty I have enjoyed. It has not been easy for me in life nor was freedom so widespread as it might have been for others. Still, progress was being made along the correct lines.

That progress must never be stopped by anyone or anything. All men must learn to live at peace with his fellow men and to grant all, regardless of station or birth, creed or color, the same rights and privileges which he himself deserves or enjoys.

Class distinction MUST be wiped out. Surely if there is a God, he did not intend that his Creatures should live amid hate and distrust here on earth as a preparation to entering his kingdom. If we are to live with God, we must learn first to live like God or as he would have us live. In other words, we must work out our own Salvation. Jesus was and is the formula, it is up to us to follow the formula to the same answer. By this I do not intend to condone the organized bodies of men & women which dictate the rules, judge the participants and ostracize the sinners. Each man to his own life, his own belief or lack thereof and to his own morals or code of ethics.

Since my childhood I have tried to steer my own life along the path that led to achievement of my ambition - to be a brain surgeon. There is no hope of that now but, as I explained to you once, my death may make it possible for some other lad to do the work I envisioned for myself. I go in that belief, be it vain or otherwise.

Dropping bombs seems like a far cry from medicine yet I found it was my duty for once to 'be cruel to be kind'.

I hate killing and suffering with all my soul yet I have killed and caused suffering. If I am to be excused it must be on the grounds that I killed the few to save the many. Nazism has, and would continue to destroy truth and independent thought, without which we must inevitably suffer and die. Die deaths of the soul and mind as well as the body! If there is no thought there is no freedom, no progress, no life.

If there is any message which the coming generations should have from mine let it be a message from us who have fought and died to make future generations of human beings possible. Let the message be this - we have cleared the site and laid the foundations - you build. This time let us hope they take the plans out of that hip pocket.

Well folks, I had better draw this to a close. This won't have been pleasant reading, yet I want no tears on my behalf. I have done my duty -completed my life's work. If there be any honours or rewards due to me let them be these two, ONE: That you regard me as being worthy of being your son. And TWO: That there come to pass at last 'A Good Earth'.

Goodbye and God Bless you.

Bomber Command Museum of Canada