Pic: Vintage Radio Australia
Well, this is extraordinary! A radio adaptation of Paul Brickhill’s The Dam Busters in 26 half hour episodes, produced by ‘Australasian Radio’ in 1954, and introduced by Brickhill himself. I have to say that I never even knew this existed. As, at the moment, I don’t have 13 hours to spare to listen to every episode I’m unable to tell you a whole lot more, but stabbing around, I discovered that the raid itself is covered in Episode 6. The raid is observed almost entirely from inside Gibson’s aircraft, and the Möhne Dam is breached by the third aircraft attacking, so you could say that a certain amount of latitude has been taken with what happened in real life. There are other scenes back at Grantham and Scampton, with Air Marshal Harris’s attempts to ring the White House treated as a series of comic turns with hapless switchboard operators and annoyed hotel proprietors. The sound quality is however excellent, so I’d be fascinated to know in which vaults this has been lying for over 50 years.
[Hat tip to Oggie at Lancaster Archive, who also cites Wings Over New Zealand, although I can’t find any mention there.]
Sad decline in standards at the Daily Express. Here is a paper which once seemed never to have left the Second World War period, but which now employs writers (or sub-editors) who don’t have its essential facts and figures at their fingertips. Above is a screengrab from a preview article for a TV programme which appeared over the Christmas period, under the byline of one Adam Edwards. One problem, Mr Edwards – the RAF never had a 633 Squadron. The number was used for a fictional squadron, in a film of the same name, which was made in 1964… Perhaps you got the music muddled up?
The first Desert Island Discs castaway of 2011 was an old friend of this blog, Sqn Ldr Tony Iveson. Now aged 90, he has recently been involved in the campaign for a permanent memorial for the 55,000 Bomber Command aircrew who died on active service during the war. In fact his first wartime operations were in Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. He later retrained as a bomber pilot and joined 617 Squadron a few months after the Dams Raid. He took part in three attacks on the Tirpitz, including the final one in November 1944, where the battleship was sunk after three direct hits from the Barnes Wallis-designed Tallboy bombs, dropped by crews from both 617 and 9 Squadron.
Just over a year ago, Tony Iveson flew again in a Lancaster, courtesy of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and took the controls for a while. (I blogged about it at the time, reproducing the fine article which appeared in the Daily Telegraph.)
He discussed this experience on the radio, and told many other anecdotes about his fascinating and full life. You have until Sunday 9 January to listen again on the BBC Desert Island Discs web page, so take a look.
As usual, I saw in the New Year in the company of Jools Holland and his merry band of Hootenayers. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed that there weren’t quite the usual range of old R’n’B stars belting out catchy soul numbers. However, towards the end of the evening the ‘sound artist’ Henry Dagg performed a familiar tune on a previously unknown instrument. (Courtesy of Youtube)