Dambusters remembered 75 Years On

Today, 17th May 2018 is 75 years since crews from 617 Squadron, under the direction of Squadron Leader Guy Gibson, flew Lancasters from RAF Scampton on Operation Chastise, better known as the Dan Busters raid. The squadron had been formed specifically to attack the three dams in the Ruhr industrial region of Germany, using Barnes Wallis’ Bouncing Bombs. Prior to the raid, the crews had undertaken training over the dams of the Upper Derwent Valley in Derbyshire.

Yesterday, there was a planned fly past by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight to mark the 75th Anniversary of the raid and 100th anniversary of the RAF. It was meant to leave RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire, and fly through the Derwent Valley over Chatsworth towards Rolls Royce in Derby and then over the Eyebrook Reservoir in Leicestershire. However, the Lancaster had to be replaced by a Typhoon due to adverse wind conditions and then it was announced that the Typhoon could not fly either, due to the weather conditions. The gathered crowds were dispersing when the Typhoon flew overhead, the pilot having decided that the flight could proceed if the aircraft approached from a different direction. Instead of praising the RAF for solving the problem, there was a general backlash on Twitter, probably mostly from a generation untouched by the privations of war, who expect to get what they feel that they are entitled to, no matter what. While others recognised that safety came first and that it was commemorating the event that was important. Some were unimpressed with what they felt was a lack of communication between officials on the day. Read the BBC News Article here.

An official press release was issued at 9am today announcing that Squadron Leader George ‘Johnny’ Johnson MBE, DFM, the last British Dambuster, flew in the bomb aimer’s position on board the BBMF Lancaster this morning, the same position he flew 75 years ago today, to mark the raid’s anniversary as intended.

In 1951, Paul Brickhill wrote The Dam Busters which was made into a documentary style film in 1955. Many of the documents were still protected at the time under the official secrets act, which led to some inaccuracies. Cinemas are planning anniversary screenings of the film. This too is not without controversy, due to the name of Guy Gibson’s dog, who became the squadron’s mascot. Peter Jackson has been planning a remake of the iconic film for at least ten years but keeps being diverted by other projects. Read more here and here.

Eric Coates’ iconic march that became the film’s theme tune was initially written for another purpose. By the time that the sheet music was published in 1955, Carlene Mair had added the lyrics that HAMC sing, often as a concert finale. The music has also been set to the hymn, God is our strength and refuge, based on Psalm 46. Read more here and here and here.

No 617 Squadron exists today and is still known as Dambusters for its exploits during World War II. They are currently based in the USA but expected to return to RAF Marham later this year.

Please note that the views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those held by the Harrow Apollo Male Choir as an organisation. Also HAMC is not responsible for the content of any other websites that are linked to this article and are provided purely for further information.

Further Reading:

The Dambusters’ Blog

Dambusters’ Official Site

Imperial War Museum

RAF Benevolent Fund

Wikipedia Operation Chastise

Wikipedia The Film

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Facebook page

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Twitter feed