The Dams Raid dams today

Great account and brilliant photos by Damien Burke of a trip to all three dams involved in Operation Chastise, as well as the Rheinberg and Reichwald War Cemeteries.
These war cemeteries are an incredible sight, with long rows of identical headstones, each one beautifully carved with a name, a rank and a number – a testament to the individual buried below. As Damien says they really bring home the real sacrifices which are often forgotten when the huge numbers of people killed are mentioned.

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Only original part from Dambuster Lancaster goes on display

TH1_2392009409093 K486Pic: Grantham Journal

I might be wrong, but I think this is the only original part of a Dambuster Lancaster on public display anywhere in the world. Eleven Lancasters got back from the original Operation Chastise but those that survived the rest of the war were all scrapped in the late 1940s. This bit of rusty twisted metal is the gunner’s mount and hatch from the rear of Lancaster ED825, which was flown by Joe McCarthy on the Dams Raid. Almost seven months later it was being piloted by Flt Lt George Weeden on an operation to send ammunition and supplies to the French resistance when it was shot down near Doulens in France.
The story of its excavation, by a team which included Dams Raid expert Alex Bateman, was told in the Channel Five documentary, misleadingly titled The Last of the Dambusters, shown on British screens last year. Sqn Ldr George (Johnny) Johnson, bomb-aimer in McCarthy’s crew, accompanied the team on their journey.
The hatch will join the other Dambuster exhibits – many of them from the collection of 617 Squadron adjutant Harry Humphries – on display at the Grantham Museum. Well worth a visit!

David Maltby tribute at Wickhambreaux, 14 September 2009

The annual tribute to Sqn Ldr David Maltby DSO DFC and his crew took place at David Maltby’s graveside in St Andrew’s Church, Wickhambreaux, Kent, on Monday 14 September. The largest turnout for several years brought together the East Kent branch of the Aircrew Association, who organise the event, the Maltby family, members of the public and, for the first time, the Littlebourne branch of the British Legion.

D Maltby grave 14.9.09

Gibson logbook, hat and letters on display

Anyone in London during the next month will have a rare opportunity to see some of Guy Gibson’s personal effects – his log, a hat and some letters. They are on show in the (you might think unlikely) venue of the Lords Cricket Museum in St John’s Wood.
You wonder why this particular museum has been chosen but, as a MoD official press release explains:
Few are aware that Lord’s Cricket Ground was once a constituent part of the wartime RAF. After the Battle of Britain the Nation turned its attention to taking the war to Germany, but it was realised that existing RAF selection establishments were unable to cope with the sudden demand for thousands more aircrew.
It was decided to create an [AircrewReceiving Centre] at Lords in London because of its central position in the rail transport network.
Civilian volunteers for air crew training were recruited and given a basic medical and attested at centres near their home. Later they would receive a letter telling them to report to Lord’s. On arrival, they were assembled into flights, each under the command of a Corporal, kitted out and accommodated in a number of requisitioned blocks of flats nearby. Collectively, the assets were known as RAF Regents Park. The ARC opened on 14 June 1941 with the first intake of cadets on 30 June 1941.
The recruits would be marched to the canteen of the nearby London Zoo for their meals. During a two to three week period, they received basic instruction on service life; underwent a rigorous medical and a series of tests designed to weed out unsuitable candidates and identify the most suitable aircrew role for those remaining. From Lord’s they were posted to appropriate Initial Training Wings around the country to continue further training in their selected roles.
With the decreasing need for aircrew in the latter stages of WW2, ARC Lords was closed on the 31st Aug 1944. During the period from 1941 more than 115,000 civilians and 44,000 in-service volunteers for air crew passed through its doors. Many thousands of these young men were later to lose their lives on operations.
Was it a coincidence that the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster overflew Lords last Sunday in a salute? The simple answer is, I don’t know, but I will do my best to find out!
(Hat tip David Layne at Lancaster Archive Forum.)

Anyone in London during the next month will have a rare opportunity to see some of Guy Gibson’s personal effects – his log, a hat and some letters. They are on show in the (you might think unlikely) venue of the Lords Cricket Museum in St John’s Wood.
You may wonder why this particular museum has been chosen but an official MoD press release explains:

Few are aware that Lord’s Cricket Ground was once a constituent part of the wartime RAF. After the Battle of Britain the Nation turned its attention to taking the war to Germany, but it was realised that existing RAF selection establishments were unable to cope with the sudden demand for thousands more aircrew.
It was decided to create an [AircrewReceiving Centre] at Lords in London because of its central position in the rail transport network.
Civilian volunteers for air crew training were recruited and given a basic medical and attested at centres near their home. Later they would receive a letter telling them to report to Lord’s. On arrival, they were assembled into flights, each under the command of a Corporal, kitted out and accommodated in a number of requisitioned blocks of flats nearby. Collectively, the assets were known as RAF Regents Park. The ARC opened on 14 June 1941 with the first intake of cadets on 30 June 1941.
The recruits would be marched to the canteen of the nearby London Zoo for their meals. During a two to three week period, they received basic instruction on service life; underwent a rigorous medical and a series of tests designed to weed out unsuitable candidates and identify the most suitable aircrew role for those remaining. From Lord’s they were posted to appropriate Initial Training Wings around the country to continue further training in their selected roles.
With the decreasing need for aircrew in the latter stages of WW2, ARC Lords was closed on the 31st Aug 1944. During the period from 1941 more than 115,000 civilians and 44,000 in-service volunteers for air crew passed through its doors. Many thousands of these young men were later to lose their lives on operations.

Some of the aircrew who flew on the Dams Raid must therefore have spent their first days in the RAF at this ARC, eating meals at London Zoo.
Was it a coincidence that the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster overflew Lords last Sunday in a salute? The simple answer is, I don’t know, but I will do my best to find out!
(Hat tip David Layne at Lancaster Archive Forum.)

Wickhambreaux tribute, Monday 14 September

All members of the public are welcome to join members of the East Kent RAF Aircrew Association and the Maltby family at David Maltby’s grave in St Andrew’s Church, Wickhambreaux, Kent, at 11.30am on Monday 14 September 2009.
This annual event, commemorating the lives of all of David’s crew, takes place on the anniversary of their last operational flight. Weather permitting, local flyers led by David Maltby’s nephew George Foster will be conducting a flypast and poppy drop.

All members of the public are welcome to join members of the East Kent RAF Aircrew Association and the Maltby family at David Maltby’s grave in St Andrew’s Church, Wickhambreaux, Kent, at 11.30am on Monday 14 September 2009.

This annual event, commemorating the lives of all of David’s crew, takes place on the anniversary of their last flight. Weather permitting, local flyers led by David Maltby’s nephew George Foster, will be conducting a flypast and poppy drop.

The crew who flew on that last flight, in Lancaster JA981, was the same as that which had flown on the Dams Raid, almost exactly four months previously:

Sqn Ldr David Maltby DSO DFC (pilot) Baldslow, Sussex
Flt Sgt Vivian Nicholson DFM (navigator) Sherburn, Co Durham
Plt Off John Fort DFC (bomb aimer) Colne, Lancashire
Flt Sgt Antony Stone (wireless operator) Winchester, Hampshire
Sgt William Hatton (flight engineer) Wakefield, Yorkshire
Flt Sgt Victor Hill (front gunner) Berkeley, Gloucestershire
Sgt Harold Simmonds (rear gunner) Burgess Hill, Sussex

Warrant Officer John Welch (mid upper gunner) Chesham, Buckinghamshire, seconded from 218 Squadron, flew as an extra gunner.

DSCN2217(Picture shows the Aircrew Association’s 2007 tribute.)

BBMF Lancaster at Lord’s causes England collapse

I can only find this one picture of yesterday’s flypast over Lord’s cricket ground during an England-Australia one day international. by the BBMF Lancaster.
I wonder whether its arrival was the cause of yet another England batting collapse: England captain Andrew Strauss was dismissed 3 balls after the flyover briefly stopped play, and England went on to lose by 39 runs. Here is the ball-by-ball summary on Cricinfo which lays the blame pretty squarely on the flypast. (Translation of cricketing terms is available on request!)
17.1
Hauritz to Strauss, 1 run, cut hard out to point
A Lancaster Bomber is due to fly over Lord’s soon. What a sight that will be
17.2
Hauritz to Shah, FOUR, top shot. Down the pitch, and Shah clouts him over extra cover for four
More importantly, the Lancaster bomber is now flying over Lord’s. Wonderful sight and the crowd stand to applaud! Ah, great moment and a great noise, too, spluttering away with its four propellers and it banks to the right, over the pavilion. Super stuff
17.3
Hauritz to Shah, no run, down the pitch but is rapped on the pads
And there goes the Lancaster again. Graeme Swann’s giving it a standing ovation all by himself
17.4
Hauritz to Shah, 1 wide, down the leg side. Paine whips off the bails and says “ohh-ayyye” which is tongues for “how was that, dear fine fellow umpire?”
17.4
Hauritz to Shah, 1 run, clipped to leg
17.5
Hauritz to Strauss, OUT, got him! Australia have three as Strauss tried to turn it to leg, but was squared up – it gripped on the surface – and spooned it back to the bowler
AJ Strauss c & b Hauritz 47 (78m 53b 6×4 0x6) SR: 88.67
I think Strauss was Lancastered
17.6
Hauritz to Collingwood, no run, flicked to leg
End of over 18 (7 runs) England 85/3

I can only find this one picture of yesterday’s flypast by the BBMF Lancaster over Lord’s cricket ground during an England-Australia one day international.

I wonder whether its arrival was the cause of yet another England batting collapse: England captain Andrew Strauss was dismissed three balls after the flyover briefly stopped play, and England went on to lose by 39 runs. Here is the ball-by-ball summary on Cricinfo – which lays the blame pretty squarely on the flypast. (Translation of cricketing terms is available on request!)

17.1 Hauritz to Strauss, 1 run, cut hard out to point
A Lancaster Bomber is due to fly over Lord’s soon. What a sight that will be

17.2 Hauritz to Shah, FOUR, top shot. Down the pitch, and Shah clouts him over extra cover for four
More importantly, the Lancaster bomber is now flying over Lord’s. Wonderful sight and the crowd stand to applaud! Ah, great moment and a great noise, too, spluttering away with its four propellers and it banks to the right, over the pavilion. Super stuff

17.3 Hauritz to Shah, no run, down the pitch but is rapped on the pads
And there goes the Lancaster again. Graeme Swann’s giving it a standing ovation all by himself

17.4 Hauritz to Shah, 1 wide, down the leg side. Paine whips off the bails and says “ohh-ayyye” which is tongues for “how was that, dear fine fellow umpire?”

17.4 Hauritz to Shah, 1 run, clipped to leg

17.5 Hauritz to Strauss, OUT, got him! Australia have three as Strauss tried to turn it to leg, but was squared up – it gripped on the surface – and spooned it back to the bowler
AJ Strauss c & b Hauritz 47 (78m 53b 6×4 0x6) SR: 88.67
I think Strauss was Lancastered

17.6 Hauritz to Collingwood, no run, flicked to leg
End of over 18 (7 runs) England 85/3

UPDATE: two videos from Youtube:

Hot News! Peter Jackson sacked from Dambuster team!

Calm down, film fans – this report refers to the news that the other Peter Jackson has lost his job with the Imps, also known as the mighty Lincoln City FC. After a poor start to the season – two wins out of seven games – he has been one of League Two’s earliest casualties. It doesn’t seem to have been much of a surprise to the long-suffering supporters, if contributions to the BBC chat pages are to be believed. Armchair supporters, particularly those who know the county’s connections with certain heavy bomber squadrons, will not be surprised at the club’s current state. It’s because the management have threatened to drop the playing of a certain tune when a goal is scored.