Pilot Officer Bob Hodgson was just, one of the 55,000 airmen with RAF Bomber Command who didn't make it. In March, 1943, he was reported missing over Holland after a raid on Bochum in the Ruhr, and that was that. He won no medals, received no praise. To the war leaders he was just a statistic
All that his family had to remember him by were the letters he wrote home, and he painted a vivid picture of life on an operational RAF station. They formed the basis of a TV documentary broadcast in June 1985, called Letters From a Bomber Pilot. It was written and directed by Bob's younger brother, film maker David Hodgson, and was based on a book of the same name.
David began the project after his mother had died and the bundle of letters that her son had written to her and other members of the family was found. They began in1941 and ended in 1943 when he failed to return to base.
David remembered how his brother's death devastated the family. "This indelible sense of loss, of outrage at the events that conspired to cause his death and of despair at the inevitable consequences of war, stayed with my mother for the rest of her life. It was an experience shared by thousands of families everywhere."
The Ietters from Bob describe his initial training, the friends he made, learning to fly, booze-ups, crashes, falling in love and going on operations.
And David had this to say: "The generation now growing up has no direct experience of war, and their second-hand view of it through many films and books bears no relation to the reality.
"Much has been written about our wartime heroes. Their stories have been told and they have been rightly honoured. But many young men were like Bob . . . they did what they were asked and they died unacknowledged.
"The men who flew in Bomber Command were mostly in their late teens and early twenties. The loss therefore, was heightened by a sense of the dreadful waste of young lives, of much-loved sons coming to their maturity only to be destroyed before their proper time.
"The significance of Bob Hodgson's story is that he was unique, just like each one of the others who died."