Dambuster of the Day No. 18: Leonard Chambers

National Collection

The five members of the crew of AJ-P  who were awarded honours for the Dams Raid pose outside Buckingham Palace. L-R: Len Chambers, Bob Hay, Mick Martin, Tammy Simpson and Jack Leggo. [Pic: Australian War Memorial]

Flg Off L Chambers
Wireless operator
Lancaster serial number: ED909/G
Call sign: AJ-P
First wave. Third aircraft to attack Möhne Dam. Mine veered left after dropping and exploded at side of dam.

Len Chambers was born in Karamea, New Zealand in 1919, and joined the RNZAF in September 1940. After qualifying as a Wireless Operator/Gunner, he arrived in England where he was posted to an Australian training unit, where he flew a number of operations.  He then transferred to 75 (NZ) Sqn (Wellington) where he flew a further 37 operations and became the Squadron Signals Leader.
When Mick Martin joined 617 Squadron he brought most of his old 50 Squadron crew with him, but was short of a wireless operator, so Chambers was sent  for. He was awarded a DFC for his part in the raid.
After the raid, he flew on 6 further sorties before leaving 617 Squadron at the same time as Jack Leggo, in order to qualify as a pilot. However, he did not, apparently, ever fly on any operations in this role.
He returned to New Zealand in November 1944, and left the RNZAF in 1945.
He died in 1985.
[Hat tips: Dave Homewood and Kevin Smith]

TwoNZers Chambers

Biography of Len Chambers from the programme for the New Zealand premiere of The Dam Busters, 1955. [Pic: Chambers family]

Chambers album WW11Dambusters

Collage of photos from a family album. [Pic: Chambers family]

Dams Film Preview

At the New Zealand premiere of The Dam Busters, 1955. L-R: Len Chambers, Lil Chambers, Betty Munro, Les Munro. [Pic: Chambers family]

Survived war. Died 1985.
Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Sources: Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002
Chris Ward, Andy Lee, Andreas Wachtel, Dambusters: Definitive History, Red Kite 2003

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

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8 thoughts on “Dambuster of the Day No. 18: Leonard Chambers

  1. Robert Goodwin August 27, 2013 / 3:40 pm

    Leonard was a teacher at my school in the 1960’s, sadly not many of us were aware of his part in all this. I believe he taught technical drawing, although I stand to be corrected on that. I wouldn’t have been one of his star pupils, not very neat you see, just another snot nosed kid from the slums.
    The school was St Andrew’s Boys in Small Heath right next to Birmingham City Football Club. I think he was wasted on us, it was not really the land fit for heros that the politicians spoke of.
    I didn’t particularly enjoy my time at this school since it was one of several that I passed through as we moved home frequently to keep ahead of the demolition men as they sought to “improve” Birmingham.
    I’m glad that this list has been published and finally the men who served in this heroic act can be recognised for their part in it as well as the contribution of all the others who served.

    • Rozann Sheila Reynolds ( nee Chambers) February 19, 2014 / 10:29 pm

      Sorry Robert but Len Chambers , my dad was a New Zealander and never taught in Birmingham. Cheers Sheila Reynolds (nee Chambers NZ).

  2. Randy Murray January 8, 2014 / 6:44 pm

    It was very interesting to find out that Leonard Chambers (my uncle) was one of the Dambusters from WW-II. Leonard married my dads sister (Lil) and it was only last weekend that we found all this information about my uncle. We were trying to locate their daughter, my cousin.

    • Dianna Lacey February 19, 2014 / 12:45 am

      Hi Randy my name is Dianna Lacey (nee Chambers) Len & Lil are my parents.

      • Dianna Lacey February 19, 2014 / 12:57 am

        Hi Randy my name is Dianna Lacey (nee Chambers) Len & LilChambers are my parents.

  3. Andrea Webster June 27, 2014 / 10:50 am

    Hi there. I am currently searching my biological family tree, and have found out that I am related to Len through my great grandfather; Groves Frederick Chambers. I understand Len’s parents were Groves Frederick & Amy Isabel. My grandfather Groves Edgar was from Groves Frederick’s 2nd marriage; to Elizabeth Alice.I have some birth, death & marriage certs, but I would love to know more about the family history.

    Kind regards,
    Andrea Webster.

  4. Andrea Webster June 27, 2014 / 11:17 am

    Sorry, wrong info. Seems there is a change of names, which makes everything very confusing. Can you please confirm that Leonard was born Thomas Gross, to Thomas Gross (born Frederick Groves Chambers), and Charlotte Heberley.
    Any info would be very helpful!!
    Cheers, Andrea.

  5. Rosey Olliver October 20, 2014 / 6:31 am

    Groves Frederick Chambers was married to Charlotte Heberley. Their children were Frederick Groves (married twice – unsure of first, but second wife was Elizabeth Alice Ferris), Emily, Maud (who married Harold Olliver), George, Leonard and Florence. Their son Leonard had 9 children: Leonard, Rose, Edward, Dawn Winifred, May, Ronald, Maxwell and Noel. It is grandson Leonard or Lennie that flew with the dam busters.

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