Dambuster of the Day No. 122: Lancelot Howard

Howard AWM UK0734Lance Howard, left, photographed in November 1943 with his brother, Sgt Godfrey Howard, who also served in the RAAF. Sadly, Godfrey was lost on operations over Italy on 25 February 1944, while serving in 104 Squadron. [Pic: Australian War Memorial UK0734]

Plt Off C L Howard
Navigator

Lancaster serial number: ED886/G

Call sign: AJ-O

Third wave. Only aircraft to attack Ennepe Dam. Mine dropped successfully, but failed to breach dam.

Cecil Lancelot Howard, known to his friends and family as Lance, was born in Fremantle, Western Australia, on 12 January 1913, the son of Henry and Helen Howard. He worked as a commercial traveller before the war.
He joined the RAAF in 1940 and was initially selected for pilot training. Eventually he was remustered as a navigator. He arrived in the UK in late 1941 and was posted to 14 OTU at RAF Cottesmore. He was posted to 49 Squadron in May 1942, where he spent some time in further training in the Conversion Unit. By late 1942, he was flying as the regular navigator in Bill Townsend’s crew and went on to complete 25 operations by March 1943.
By then he had been recommended for a commission, although it was not confirmed until after he had joined 617 Squadron.
On the night of the Dams Raid, Howard was apprehensive as Townsend coaxed AJ-O into the air. “I had visions of the bumpy (grass) take-causing the lights under the fuselage to be shaken off so that instead of being 60ft above the ground we would finish up 60ft below it,’ he later remembered. They made it into the air, however, and set course for Germany.
In his account in Colin Burgess’s book, Australia’s Dambusters, Howard later recalled:

It was a clear night with a full moon and we flew at 60 to 100 feet to keep under German radar. On the way in we received a radio message to attack the Ennepe dam, which indicated that the main target, the Möhne, had been breached. This we saw for ourselves shortly afterwards as we used this for a turning point on the way to the Ennepe. It was an horrific picture with a great stream of water bursting down the valley from the breach in the dam wall.
We attacked the Ennepe at sixty feet height and a speed of 240 miles per hour. There were no defences and the bomb was accurate. But no breach was observed and it was obvious that two or more bombs would be needed. Unfortunately there were no other aircraft … So back we screamed flat out to the Möhne with the engines at maximum revs and thence up to the north Dutch coast where we were sent on our way by a large flak gun, and then over the North Sea to Scampton.
We had another encounter with flak and searchlights on the way in, and all in all one wonders how we survived flying low-level and dodging high tension cables and trees. We were the last crew back.

For his part in the Dams Raid, and as the only officer in the crew of AJ-O, Howard was awarded the DFC. He participated fully in the investiture ceremony on the morning of 22 June and the dinner at the Hungaria restaurant in the evening. (He can be seen in the famous photograph of the event with a glass of wine in one hand and a cigar in the other.)
Howard’s last two operations in the whole war were the squadron’s attacks on Italian targets in July. In September, three days after he had represented the squadron at David Maltby’s funeral in Kent, he was listed as “tour expired” and was later posted to a conversion unit as an instructor.
Howard was released from active service in March 1945 and returned to Australia to be with his wife Marjorie, who he had married in 1941 shortly before embarking for the war.
After the war he worked in the Repatriation Department and then at the West Australian newspaper. He remained there until ill-health forced his early retirement in 1972. He was active in the RAAF Association but refused an MBE, stating he believed it was awarded to him on behalf of the RAAFA and he considered it insufficient recognition of the work of the Association. He was also involved in the Karrakatta Cemetery association, where he is now memorialised.
Lance Howard founded the Air Force Memorial Estate in Bull Creek, near Perth. The estate provides comfortable housing for ex-servicemen, next to the largest aviation museum in Australia. He and his wife lived there until his death on 26 December 1989.

Thanks to Colin Burgess for help with this article.

More about Howard online:
RAAF personnel file in National Archives of Australia
History of Karrakata Cemetery (where Howard is buried) Scroll down to No 39

Survived war. Died 26 December 1989.

Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Sources:
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002

The information above has been taken from the books and online sources listed above, and other online material. Apologies for any errors or omissions. Please add any corrections or links to further information in the comments section below.

Dambuster of the Day No. 121: Dennis Powell

Powell lores

Sgt D J D Powell
Flight engineer

Lancaster serial number: ED886/G

Call sign: AJ-O

Third wave. Only aircraft to attack Ennepe Dam. Mine dropped successfully, but failed to breach dam.

Dennis John Dean Powell was born in Birmingham on 21 January 1922, although his family later moved to London. His father, Easton Powell, was Canadian but his mother Ada (née Dean) was from Birmingham.
Powell joined the RAF as a boy entrant before the outbreak of the war and served in ground crew. In 1942, he took the opportunity to train as a flight engineer. He joined 49 Squadron in October 1942, but wasn’t immediately allocated a crew. He teamed up with Bill Townsend at the end of the year and then flew with him on 15 operations before their transfer to 617 Squadron in March 1943.
Like all the flight engineers on Operation Chastise, Powell had a very busy trip. Low level flying required both pilot and engineer to have sharp eyes and speedy reactions. The two young men in the cockpit of AJ-O certainly displayed both over the course of the raid. After the raid, however, Powell was the only one of the entire crew of AJ-O not to be decorated – a decision which today looks very unfair, but probably reflects the thinking in the RAF of the time.
Powell flew with Townsend and most of the rest of his Dams Raid crew on the two trips to attack Italian targets in July 1943. However, unlike the rest of his crewmates he was only about halfway through a tour, so he then transferred to the crew of the newly appointed CO of 617 Sqn, George Holden.
Holden’s first two operations with 617 Squadron had been the Italian trips in July, which he undertook with all of Guy Gibson’s Dams Raid crew: John Pulford, Harlo Taerum, Robert Hutchison, Fred Spafford, George Deering and Richard Trevor Roper. By September 1943, both John Pulford and Richard Trevor Roper had left the crew, so Dennis Powell moved into the flight engineer’s seat. He must have regarded flying with the squadron CO as a significant step upwards.
Unfortunately, his first operation with Holden would be his last. On 16 September, Holden led a detachment of eight aircraft on a low level attack to bomb the Dortmund Ems Canal with a new 12000lb “thin case” bomb. This was to be a catastrophic night for the squadron, and Holden’s was the first of five aircraft to be lost. Approaching the small town of Nordhorn, Holden rose to about 300 feet in order to fly above its church. A more cautious pilot – perhaps someone who had flown on the Dams Raid – would probably have changed course to go around the spire. Holden’s Lancaster became a simple target for the town’s only flak battery and it was shot down, crashing in flames in a farmyard nearby. The bomb inside exploded a few minutes later, devastating the area and killing a woman on the ground. The crew had all been killed in the crash. Of the eight on board, only George Holden and George Deering were positively identified by the Germans. All the bodies were buried in the nearby cemetery at Lingen, but after the war they were all exhumed and reinterred in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.
The aircraft loss was witnessed by Les Knight and his crew, flying in formation with Holden. His navigator, Sidney Hobday, wrote to Dennis Powell’s mother in 1961 saying: “We were flying a matter of yards from the machine which carried Guy Gibson’s crew – piloted by Sq Ldr Holden – which must have been the one which your son was in. We were very low and they were shot down by light flak.”
Along with the four other Dams Raid veterans who flew in Holden’s aircraft, Dennis Powell is buried in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. The cemetery also holds the remains of four crews killed on the Dams Raid itself – those piloted by Bill Astell, Norman Barlow, Henry Maudslay and Warner Ottley.

More about Powell online:
Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry
Details of 2006 auction sale of logbook and other effects

KIA 16.09.1943

Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Sources:
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002

The information above has been taken from the books and online sources listed above, and other online material. Apologies for any errors or omissions. Please add any corrections or links to further information in the comments section below.

Dambuster of the Day No. 120: William Townsend

Townsend CrewbigBill Townsend and five of his crew, outside Buckingham Palace in June 1943. Left to right: Ray Wilkinson (rear gunner), Douglas Webb (front gunner), Charles Franklin (bomb aimer), Bill Townsend, Jack Grain (who had been the wireless operator in Townsend’s crew in 49 Squadron but did not transfer to 617 Squadron), Lance Howard (navigator). Note that Townsend is now wearing an officer’s uniform, having received a commission earlier in the month. [Pic: Yahya El Droubie]

Flt Sgt W C Townsend DFM
Pilot

Lancaster serial number: ED886/G

Call sign: AJ-O

Third wave. Only aircraft to attack Ennepe Dam. Mine dropped successfully, but failed to breach dam.

William Clifford Townsend was born on 12 January 1921 in Gloucestershire, the son of William and Kathleen Townsend. He went to Monmouth School. Shortly after the war started he joined the army, but then managed to transfer into the RAF in May 1941.
He was selected for pilot training, qualified as a pilot early in 1942 and in June of that year was posted to 49 Squadron. He undertook two “gardening” operations during September 1942, and his first bombing trip was to Wismar on 1 October.
By the end of March 1943, Townsend had completed 26 operations and been recommended for a DFM. His regular crew included five of the men who would fly with him on the Dams Raid: flight engineer Denis Powell, navigator Lance Howard, bomb aimer Charles Franklin, and air gunners Doug Webb and Ray Wilkinson. The crew therefore fitted precisely into the category from which 617 Squadron’s crews were supposed to have been selected. Quite why 49 Squadron chose to add the far less experienced Cyril Anderson and his crew to the transfer is not known.
Townsend’s regular wireless operator Jack Grain declined the opportunity to transfer to 617 Squadron, as he was getting married, so when the crew arrived at Scampton they did not have anyone to fill this position. However, George Chalmers, a Scot who had already done a full tour in 35 Squadron, had arrived at the station without a crew, and was fitted in.
Training went ahead throughout April and early May, but dummy Upkeep weapons were in short supply, so Townsend never actually dropped one before the raid. Instead, he flew as second pilot with Les Munro on one test flight at Reculver. Munro flew so low that when the weapon was dropped the resultant splash damaged the rear turret.
So it was that Townsend took his place in the mobile reserve, taking off from Scampton at 0014. He had some difficulty getting the heavily-laden AJ-O into the air, just crawling over the boundary hedge. As they approached the Dutch coast, they saw flak far ahead on their port side, probably that which shot down Lewis Burpee and his crew. Turning correctly at the tip of Schouwen, they crossed the coast at 0131.
At 0145, they received another warning about flak at Dülmen and almost immediately were caught in a searchlight. According to Lance Howard’s account Townsend “threw that heavily-laden Lancaster around like a Tiger Moth and we flew out of it.” Several more incidents followed in the next few minutes and at one point they flew along a firebreak in a forest, below the level of the trees.
With all this activity, it is perhaps not surprising that AJ-O did not receive radio messages from Group HQ about the breaching of the Möhne and Eder. However, a message sent at 0226 was acknowledged. This ordered AJ-O to proceed to the Ennepe Dam. At about the same time, Ottley and Anderson were ordered to attack the Lister and Diemel Dams respectively.
With hindsight, it would seem to be a tactical error by Group HQ not to have concentrated attacks by the mobile reserve on the most important remaining target, the Sorpe Dam. Indeed, a second message was sent to Ottley to change to this target but he had already been shot down.
When AJ-O reached the Ennepe Dam, the crew found the target obscured by mist. Also, when they started spinning their Upkeep mine it made the aircraft judder alarmingly. However, after three attempts, they managed to drop it at 0337. Although it bounced twice, it exploded short of the dam which remained intact. Townsend hung around for a while waiting to see if others would arrive, but then set off for home. On the way they passed over the Möhne and saw for themselves the extent of the devastation already wreaked.
In his authoritative account of the Dams Raid, John Sweetman discusses the theory that Townsend and his crew actually attacked the Bever Dam, which has a similar shape to the Ennepe, and is nearby. It was not on the list of Operation Chastise targets. The Bever has an earth core, similar to the Sorpe, and was therefore not suitable for a head-on attack. (John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, pp 221-224.)
With dawn breaking, AJ-O had an eventful journey back to base. As they approached Texel on the Dutch coast the Germans depressed a heavy flak gun on them and deliberately bounced shells off the water, a tactic which Lance Howard later described as ‘hardly cricket’. Townsend and George Chalmers later both recalled seeing the shells actually bouncing over them. Townsend turned to starboard and flew back towards Germany, before turning to port once more and finding a new track through the danger. On the way back across the North Sea an oil gauge showed that one engine was faulty and it was shut down. They finally landed at 0615, the last crew to return from Operation Chastise. They were met on the hardstanding by a group of Bomber Command’s most senior officers, including AOC ‘Bomber’ Harris, whom the exhausted Townsend failed to recognise and pushed past. It was however, as front gunner Doug Webb later recalled, a piece of ‘superb flying’ which had brought them home.
Townsend was awarded the CGM for his role in the Dams Raid. Five of his crew were also given medals, making them the second most decorated Dams Raid crew after Gibson’s. He flew on just two further operations in 617 Squadron, both in July 1943 when the squadron was sent on raids on Italian targets with a stopover in Blida, Algeria. He had by then completed a full tour, and in September he was posted to a training role. He remained in the RAF until 1946.
Bill Townsend married his wife Eileen in 1947 and they had three children. At one point he and his wife owned a pub in Oxford, but he later worked as a civil servant, including a spell in the Department of Employment in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire.
Bill Townsend died in Bromsgrove on 9 April 1991. His funeral took place in Lickey Church, Bromsgrove, on 15 April and he was then cremated at Redditch crematorium.

More about Townsend online:
Copy of logbook held in RAF Museum
Page on 49 Squadron website

Survived war. Died 9 April 1991.

Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Sources:
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002

The information above has been taken from the books and online sources listed above, and other online material. Apologies for any errors or omissions. Please add any corrections or links to further information in the comments section below.

Dambuster of the Day No. 119: Grant McDonald

McDonald

Flt Sgt G S McDonald
Rear gunner

Lancaster serial number: ED918/G

Call sign: AJ-F

Third wave. Second aircraft to attack Sorpe Dam. Mine dropped successfully, but failed to breach dam.

Grant McDonald was born in Grand Forks, British Columbia in 1921, one of a family of seven children. By the time he left school, the war had already started and he applied to join the RCAF. At that stage it was not accepting new recruits, so he went first into the Canadian army, but was able to transfer to the air force a few months later.
After training in Canada as an air gunner, he crossed the Atlantic on a troopship in May 1942. After more training at a gunnery school near Stranraer, he was posted to No 19 Operational Training Unit at Kinloss, where he first crewed up with fellow Canadians, Ken Brown and Stefan Oancia, and then the Britons Dudley Heal and Harry Hewstone.
Their first operations were a number of anti-submarine patrols from St Eval in Cornwall, but they were then transferred to a Heavy Conversion Unit for Lancaster training. Here a full crew of seven was formed, with flight engineer Basil Feneron and gunner Don Buntaine joining them.
They were posted to 44 Squadron in February 1943 and had only completed a handful of operations before being transferred to the newborn 617 Squadron at the end of March.
They were directed to the Sorpe Dam, and attacked it at 0323. After flying across the width of the dam, they dropped their mine in the middle and it exploded satisfactorily, sending a waterspout many hundreds of feet into the air. The dam, however, remained intact. Before leaving the area, AJ-F took a detour to the rapidly-emptying Möhne Dam and were impressed by the damage that their comrades had done a couple of hours earlier. One of the anti-aircraft guns was still operating, however, and McDonald opened fire on it, ‘really giving him hell’ as Brown later recalled. McDonald himself thought that his .303 guns might not have had enough firepower to cause permanent damage. Thanks to Brown’s skilful low flying they finally landed safely at Scampton at 0533.
McDonald flew with the Brown crew on all its subsequent operations in 617 Squadron, leaving when the crew was broken up[ in March 1944. He was then posted as an instructor to an OTU in the summer of 1944.
On being demobbed at the end of the war, he joined the Canadian customs service in Vancouver, the same occupation as his sometime crewmate, Dudley Heal.
As one of the last surviving Dambusters, Grant McDonald participated with courtesy and dignity in a number of events in both Canada and Britain as the various anniversaries of the Dams Raid came about, but he died three days before its 69th anniversary.
Grant McDonald died on 13 May 2012 in Vancouver.

More about McDonald online:
Transcript of 2011 interview by James Holland

Survived war. Died 13 May 2012.

Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Sources:
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002

The information above has been taken from the books and online sources listed above, and other online material. Apologies for any errors or omissions. Please add any corrections or links to further information in the comments section below.

Dambuster of the Day No. 118: Daniel Allatson

Daniel Allatson 1941 small

Daniel Allatson, centre, at a family wedding in 1941, with, left, his cousin Bridget Fowler, née Childs and, right, Irene [surname unknown]. [Pic: Fowler family]

Sgt D Allatson
Rear gunner

Lancaster serial number: ED918/G

Call sign: AJ-F

Third wave. Second aircraft to attack Sorpe Dam. Mine dropped successfully, but failed to breach dam.

Daniel Allatson was born on 7 November 1923 in Eastwood, Essex. His birth name was Daniel Louis Alberts, and his parents were Frederick and Maude Alberts. He was adopted almost immediately after birth by Samuel and Dorothy Allatson who lived nearby in Southend. Samuel Eli Allatson transferred from the Royal Navy to serve in the newly formed RFC during the First World War. He held the rank of Serjeant-Mechanic, and was awarded both the DFM and the French Medaille Militaire.
Perhaps inspired by his father’s service, Daniel Allatson joined the RAF shortly after the start of the war. His brother also joined the RAF. Daniel Allatson qualified as an air gunner, and was eventually posted to 57 Squadron at RAF Scampton as part of the crew piloted by Sgt Bill Divall. This crew flew on a number of operations together in February 1943.
At the end of March, five crews were posted from 57 Squadron – its entire C Flight, which was made up of those skippered by Melvin Young, Bill Astell, Geoff Rice, Flt Sgt Ray Lovell and Flt Sgt W Lancaster. However, Lovell’s crew “did not come up to the standard necessary” for the new squadron and on 9 April they returned to 57 Squadron. In their place came Bill Divall and his crew, joining 617 Squadron the following day. As they were already based at Scampton the transfer was of course relatively easy.
Despite completing the training successfully, shortly before the raid Divall himself suffered a knee injury, so his crew were resigned to not participating. But then Ken Brown’s front gunner, Don Buntaine, also reported sick, so Allatson was quickly drafted in as his replacement. Allatson’s name appears on the “Night Flying Programme” which was typed on the morning of Sunday 16 May 1943, the day of the raid, so the substitution must have been made by then.
Allatson acquitted himself well in what was undoubtedly the most intense operation he had yet undertaken. He then returned to the Divall crew, and took part in the operations undertaken by 617 Squadron in the summer of 1943. These involved attacks on various Italian targets, flying on to Blida in Algeria for refuelling and rearming.
In September 1943, Divall and his crew were detailed for the attack on the Dortmund Ems Canal, using a new “thincase” 12,000lb bomb. The crew was augmented by an extra gunner brought in from another squadron, Sgt G S Miles. Allatson was stationed in the rear turret. The operation became the most catastrophic undertaken by 617 Squadron throughout the war, with five of the eight aircraft involved shot down or crashed. Weather conditions were very poor: heavy mist blanketed the canal making it impossible to see the culverted area which was the intended target. Divall’s aircraft dropped its bomb on another section of the canal, but then crashed almost immediately afterwards, with a further explosion. Allatson’s turret was blown clear of the aircraft, and his body was found in a field near a farmhouse, with a bruise on his forehead the only external sign of injury.
Daniel Allatson and his colleagues were buried by the Germans in the churchyard at Bramsche. Their bodies were exhumed after the war, and reinterred in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.

 Thanks to Mark Fowler and Susan Paxton for help with this article.

More about Allatson online:
Entry at Commonwealth Graves War Commission

KIA 16.09.43

Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Sources:
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002
Alex Bateman, No 617 ‘Dambuster’ Sqn, Osprey, 2009
Chris Ward, Andy Lee and Andreas Wachtel, Dambusters: the Definitive History, Red Kite, 2003

The information above has been taken from the books and online sources listed above, and other online material. Apologies for any errors or omissions. Please add any corrections or links to further information in the comments section below.

Dambuster of the Day No. 117: Stefan Oancia

Canadians+GibsonSome of the Canadians decorated for their role in the Dams Raid, filmed with Guy Gibson outside Buckingham Palace on 22 June 1943. Second from left is Ken Brown and fourth from left, just behind Gibson, is Steve Oancia. [Pic: University of South Carolina]

Sgt S Oancia
Bomb aimer

Lancaster serial number: ED918/G

Call sign: AJ-F

Third wave. Second aircraft to attack Sorpe Dam. Mine dropped successfully, but failed to breach dam.

Stefan Oancia was born in 1923 in Stonehenge, Saskatchewan, Canada, one of the nine children of Demitru and Katie Oancia. The family had emigrated from Romania to Canada to take up grain farming. Stonehenge is a small community in the southern part of the province of Saskatchewan, near the American border and Oancia went to the local Twelve Mile Lake school.
He joined the RCAF in 1941 and qualified as an observer. On arriving in England, he undertook further training and was then posted to an Operational Training Unit, where he teamed up with fellow Canadians Ken Brown and Grant McDonald, and two Englishmen Dudley Heal and Harry Hewstone. They were posted as a crew to Coastal Command for a few weeks to undertake anti-submarine sweeps.
After final training on heavy bombers, Don Buntaine and Basil Feneron joined them, and the crew was posted to 44 Squadron. Just over a month later and after only six operations, they were sent to 617 Squadron. “I do not recall volunteering for this transfer,” he later remarked.
Each bomb aimer on Operation Chastise made their own decision on what aiming device suited them best. Oancia was planning to get the correct dropping point for his mine from a set of chinagraph marks which he had made on his window to align with the towers on the dam. These were made redundant when they received a signal while in flight to proceed to the Sorpe Dam, which they had to attack by flying along its length.
Like Johnny Johnson in AJ-T before him, Oancia had to call a number of dummy runs before Ken Brown hit on the idea of marking the approach to the dam with a line of flares. This succeeded, and at 0314 Oancia dropped the mine in the centre, and it rolled down the dam wall and exploded as planned. After what “seemed ages”, he recorded seeing a large waterspout silhouetted against the moon and falling slowly back into the lake. The crew noticed further crumbling to the surface of the dam wall, but no apparent breach.
For his successful part in the operation, Oancia was awarded the DFM and travelled to London on 22 June to receive it at Buckingham Palace. He continued in Ken Brown’s crew after the raid until it was disbanded in March 1944, and served the rest of the war training other crews. He was commissioned in 1944.
After the war, he returned to Canada and took a degree in civil engineering at the University of Alberta. One of the projects he worked on in later life was, ironically, a large dam in Quebec.
He married Ruth Griffith in 1953, but they had no children. Stefan Oancia died in 1999.

Thanks to Marianne Oancia Wyatt and Daniel Wyatt for help with this article.

More about Oancia online:
Blog post by his cousin, Daniel Wyatt.

Survived war. Died 1999.

Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Sources:
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002

The information above has been taken from the books and online sources listed above, and other online material. Apologies for any errors or omissions. Please add any corrections or links to further information in the comments section below.

Dodgy “Guy Gibson” cup for sale

Ebay silver cup

UPDATE: 29 June 2015, 16.35
This item has now been withdrawn! The seller has informed me by email that they are now going to get the item “properly examined by an expert” and will “reoffer it for sale with his findings”.
I am leaving the posting below as it was published, as it contains important information about modern engraving techniques.

Another item which claims a wartime Dambuster connection has just turned up on eBay. This is a silver cup which is said to have been given to Guy Gibson in 1940 in order to mark the award of his first DFC. It is being sold by a Sawbridgeworth antique dealer who would seem to have some perfectly legitimate material on his website, which makes it all the more peculiar that he is apparently selling this item without checking its provenance.
What is even odder is the eBay heading for the item. As can be seen from the screenshot above, it reads: “Old Silver Plate Cup Inscribed To D.Bader”. The photograph, however, quite clearly shows that the inscription is dedicated to “G.Gibson”. The seller has added a later note: “It is actually to g.gibson not d.bader. Sorry.”
The lettering has obviously been generated by a modern computer-aided machine engraving program. The giveaway is the superscript “th” after the number 9 in the date. This happens by default in Microsoft Word, as can be seen below, but would have been very uncommon in any engraving done in wartime:

Guy Gibson lettering.docIn the 1940s all engraving was done by hand so each letter was slightly different. This is very obvious on genuine engravings of the period, for example on this silver tankard engraved during the war for Plt Off John Cockshott:

Cockshott IMG-20130509-00046Unfortunately, there is a market for Second World War artifacts given a fake Dambuster connection. In December 2014, a dealer paid £17,000 back to a collector when the collector produced evidence that more than 20 items he had purchased had been “enhanced” with fake names and provenances. Last month, a telegram supposedly sent by “Bomber” Harris about the death of Guy Gibson was withdrawn from auction after it was shown to be a fake.
Glassware and tankards with engravings which supposedly have 617 Squadron connections have also sometimes appeared, but they too have had modern computer-aided machine engraving.
At the time of publishing, someone (1***7 in eBay language) has bid £102 for this cup. More fool them. And there are just over five days to go before bidding closes. It will be interesting to see what transpires over that time.