This is not the crash site of one of the eight Lancasters lost on Operation Chastise (those have all been excavated years ago) but is where Lancaster AJ-T (ED825/G) crashed on the night of 10 December 1943 near Doullens in France. It was still being used by 617 Squadron, and that night was being flown by a crew captained by Flt Lt Gordon Weeden. All seven of the crew were killed.
AJ-T had been designated the ‘spare’ aircraft for Operation Chastise, and was hurriedly pressed into service when Flt Lt Joe McCarthy found a fault in his favourite AJ-Q (Q for Queenie). There is a lot of detail about McCarthy’s habit of calling all his aircraft Queenie, and his predilection for ‘nose art’ here.
Channel Five is screening a documentary about the search for AJ-T next Tuesday, 17 June at 2000 BST. More than ten years after its launch, Channel Five is still not available to everyone in the UK, so I’m sure in due course that the film will be made available on DVD.
The documentary features one of Britain’s last ‘active’ Dambusters, George (Johnny) Johnson, who, of course, was the bomb aimer in McCarthy’s crew, and therefore dropped a bomb from the aircraft on the Sorpe Dam during the Dams Raid. The latter part of the film shows his trip back to the Dams, and his memories of that night.
Here’s what Channel Five say about the film:
Last of The Dambusters.
Historical documentary focusing on the famous Second World War Dambusters raid. George Johnson – a bomb aimer in one of the raid’s Lancasters and one of only two British Dambusters alive today – sets off on a final mission to rediscover his past. He finds and digs up his old Dambuster bomber, before travelling back to the giant German dams that he once attacked.