by Angus Macdonald J-"R1ENDS and admirers of the late ;Group Captain Lord Cheshire VC pave paid tribute to his life of :outstanding humanitarian service in a series of special thanksgiving ISiasses held in Cheshire Homes ;ind Catholic churches throughout he world.
! Lord Cheshire, who died in July at the age of 74, was a war hero who who underwent a profound change of heart after witnessing the dropping of the litomic bomb over Nagasaki in 1E945, embraced the Catholic faith, !Ind devoted the rest of his life together with his wife, Baroness Ryder of Warsaw to the service of the sick and disabled.
The Leonard Cheshire Foundation, which he founded, now comprises more than 270 homes in 50 countries around the world.
Many members of Lord Cheshire's and Lady Ryder's family, representatives of royalty. foreign ambassadors, war veterans, as well as former colleagues attended a memorial Mass last week at Westminster Cathedral.
In his homily, Cardinal Basil Hume compared the achievements of Lord Cheshire with those of Mother Teresa of Calcutta: "What have they in common?" he asked. "It is this: they were in love with God." The Cardinal praised Lord Cheshire for "a courage beyond compare. a dedication that knew no limits, a generosity that knew no rest."
At 25, Leonard Cheshire became the youngest RAF officer to achieve the rank of Group Captain, though he later accepted a lower rank in order to take command of the legendary "Dam Busters" squadron.
After an outstanding war record that earned him not only the VC, but also a DFC and DSO with bar, his last wartime act was to witness the devastation of the Nagasaki bomb.
This, and the deathbed conversion to Catholicism of an airman dying of cancer, had a profound effect on him, and on Christmas Eve 1948 he was received into the Church.
• One of Lord Cheshire's last wishes was fulfilled this week with the opening of the first Cheshire Home in Russia.