Professor John Ramsden, RIP

RamsdenbkI was shocked and saddened by the news of the death of Professor John Ramsden, from cancer at the comparatively young age of 62. (Another obituary here.) Just the evening before I had read a chapter of his excellent book about the relationship between Britain and Germany, Don’t mention the war. This is essential reading for anyone who thinks that many Brits need to develop a more mature relationship between ourselves and our German partners and colleagues. Ramsden lists many ways in which the histories of our two countries are intertwined (many pubs called the King’s Head, for instance, are named after Frederick the Great of Prussia) and provides a counterblast to the puerile nonsense frequently peddled by the redtop press and the likes of Jeremy Clarkson.
But it is as the author of the wonderful book on The Dam Busters in the British Film Guide series that Ramsden should be respected and mourned by anyone interested in the subject of this blog. It’s a short book, but an invaluable guide to the film itself, to the times when it was made and to the reaction to it over the half-century since.

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The strange tale of how Johnny became George

This is a rare picture of one of the specially modified Lancasters (given the cumbersome name of ‘Type 464 Provisioning’) used on the Dams Raid. It was taken at RAF Scampton after the war, sometime in 1947. At this stage it was carrying the code YF-A, signifying it was part of the ‘Scampton Station Flight.’
This was the last of the many codes this aircraft had used over the previous four years. For this is Lancaster ED906, which had been flown by David Maltby on the Dams Raid in May 1943, when it was coded AJ-J. After that raid, it wasn’t used again in operations until, in the autumn, it was converted back to standard Lancaster form, with a normal bomb-bay mechanism but no doors, and given the code KC-J. It was then flown by 617 Squadron’s Flt Lt BW Clayton on five operations between 11 November 1943 and 4 January 1944.
This is where things start getting complicated because it was then converted back to ‘Dambuster’ type, and given another new code, AJ-G, which of course was the code carried by Guy Gibson’s completely different Lancaster (ED932) on the Dams Raid.
At some point in 1944 it was flown to RAF Metheringham where it was used as a spare aircraft by members of the station staff. One of these was Sqn Ldr Johnny Meagher who was attached to 106 Squadron as an instructor in his six month break between operational tours. As one of his crew has recently recalled:
My second skipper S/Ldr. Johnny Meagher became an instructor pilot attached to 106 squadron Metheringham for his 6 months rest period after his first tour with 61 squadron. AJ-G was parked there as tour expired in its dambuster configuration. Johnny used it regularly for pilot training, familiarisation flights & as a general hack for shuttling the CO & others around & picking up off base crews etc.
ED906 was then taken to Coningsby and finally into storage at 46 Maintenance Unit in Lossiemouth.
After the war, ED906 was one of the three Dambuster aircraft brought out of storage and used in Operation Guzzle, the disposal of the ‘Upkeep’ revolving mines used in the Dams Raid. There were some 37 of these weapons left over, and each had to be individually dumped into the sea just beyond the edge of the Atlantic shelf some 280 miles west of Glasgow. This took place between August and December 1946. It may well have still carried the AJ-G code at this stage. After Guzzle it was then recoded YF-A.
It was ‘struck off charge’ (i.e. released for scrapping) on 29 July 1947.
[Some information in this article from Alex Bateman’s posts on Lancaster Archive.]
pic-lanc-ED906
This is a rare picture of one of the specially modified Lancasters (given the cumbersome name of ‘Type 464 Provisioning’) used on the Dams Raid. It was taken at RAF Scampton after the war, sometime in 1947. At this stage it was carrying the code YF-A, signifying it was part of the ‘Scampton Station Flight.’
This was the last of the many codes this aircraft had used over the previous four years. For this is Lancaster ED906, which had been flown by David Maltby on the Dams Raid in May 1943, when it was coded AJ-J. On the raid, it answered to the call sign ‘J for Johnny’. It wasn’t used again in operations until, in the autumn, it was converted back to standard Lancaster form, with a normal bomb-bay mechanism but no doors, and given the code KC-J. It was then flown by 617 Squadron’s Flt Lt BW Clayton on five operations between 11 November 1943 and 4 January 1944.
This is where things start getting complicated because it was then converted back to ‘Dambuster’ type, and given another new code, AJ-G, which of course was the code carried by Guy Gibson’s completely different Lancaster (ED932) on the Dams Raid, when its call sign was ‘G for George’.
At some point in 1944 it was flown to RAF Metheringham where it was used as a spare aircraft by members of the station staff. One of these was Sqn Ldr Johnny Meagher who was attached to 106 Squadron as an instructor in his six month break between operational tours. As one of his crew has recently recalled:
My second skipper S/Ldr. Johnny Meagher became an instructor pilot attached to 106 squadron Metheringham for his 6 months rest period after his first tour with 61 squadron. AJ-G was parked there as tour expired in its dambuster configuration. Johnny used it regularly for pilot training, familiarisation flights & as a general hack for shuttling the CO & others around & picking up off base crews etc.
ED906 was then taken to Coningsby and finally into storage at 46 Maintenance Unit in Lossiemouth.
After the war, ED906 was one of the three Dambuster aircraft brought out of storage and used in Operation Guzzle, the disposal of the ‘Upkeep’ revolving mines used in the Dams Raid. There were some 37 of these weapons left over, and each had to be individually dumped into the sea just beyond the edge of the Atlantic shelf some 280 miles west of Glasgow. This took place between August and December 1946. It may well have still carried the AJ-G code at this stage. After Guzzle it received its final code, YF-A.
It was ‘struck off charge’ (i.e. released for scrapping) on 29 July 1947.
[Some information in this article from Alex Bateman’s posts on Lancaster-Archive forum.]

Munro interviewed about Dambusters remake

The only surviving Dams Raid pilot Les Munro has reportedly come out of retirement to visit the studio in Wellington NZ where the Dambusters remake will be made and is chuffed that it is being produced by a New Zealander.
Long piece about Les, with some interesting background on his distinguished RAF career. And a laughing no comment when asked whether Tom Cruise might be the right person to play Gibson. Quite right too!
(Hat tip Type 683 at Lancaster Archive.)

Dambusters team keep tune, get SAS support

This blog’s official football team is of course The Mighty Imps, whose fans have now taken the sensible decision to keep The Dam Busters March as their theme tune, played when the teams run out onto the pitch.
Lincoln City has also given a first managerial position to none other than one half of the famous SAS partnership, feared and respected in Blackburn Rovers long-ago reign as Premiership champions. And, what do you know, the team won its first match under his leadership. Mid-table mediocrity beckons?
One fan reckoned that the Imps could benefit from being more like the chaps from 617 Squadron, telling the Echo:

Lincoln City Football team could learn from the Dambuster’s experience of how the aircrew came together and did what they were instructed to do.
W/C Guy Gibson was their key man and leader.
Why cannot the manager of Lincoln City’s football club show what football is all about as with what Guy Gibson did with 617 Squadron?
The football team needs to bond together, know their positions, play football for what they are paid for, and start scoring goals which is their mission.

Lincoln City Football team could learn from the Dambuster’s experience of how the aircrew came together and did what they were instructed to do.
W/C Guy Gibson was their key man and leader.
Why cannot the manager of Lincoln City’s football club show what football is all about as with what Guy Gibson did with 617 Squadron?
The football team needs to bond together, know their positions, play football for what they are paid for, and start scoring goals which is their m