New photo of royal visit to Scampton, 27 May 1943

I’ve written before about the post-war career of Douglas Webb DFM, front gunner in Bill Townsend’s crew on the Dams Raid. He went back to work as a photographer in the film and ‘glamour’ industry, where one of his subjects was the well-known model and film actress, Pamela Green. They had a long term relationship and eventually retired together to the Isle of Wight. Doug died in 1996, but Pamela survived him until 2010.
Her friend Yahya El Droubie now runs a tribute blog about Pamela. (Please be warned, as they say in the best TV voiceovers, that this contains ‘scenes of nudity’.)
Amongst the tasteful poses, there are some hidden gems of great interest to the Dambuster obsessive. This includes a picture that I have never seen before, which must have been taken, presumably by Doug, on the day that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Scampton after the Dams Raid, on 27 May 1943. They are walking off the airfield, probably en route to lunch in the Officers’ Mess. In the front row is the Queen, alongside a senior RAF officer. Behind them are a group of three, which I think includes Guy Gibson on the left, and the King in the centre. The third group of five has the unmistakeable figure of Barnes Wallis on the far right. I would hazard a guess that Charles Whitworth is on the far left of this quintet. Note also, the official RAF photographer on the far right.
Any suggestions as to the rest would be very welcome.

Another post in Yahya’s blog contains this picture of Doug Webb, Bill Townsend and the four other members of their crew who were decorated after the Dams Raid. This was taken outside Buckingham Palace on the day they received their medals, Tuesday 22 June 1943.

Left to right: Ray Wilkinson, Rear Gunner; Douglas Webb, Front Gunner; Charles Franklin, Bomb Aimer; Bill Townsend, Pilot; Jack Grain, Wireless Operator; Lance Howard, Navigator. (Note that, for some reason, flight engineer Sgt D Powell was not decorated.)

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Gibson salute on Dams Raid anniversary

Tomorrow, 16th May, is the 69th anniversary of Operation Chastise, the Dams Raid. The first aircraft, piloted by Flt Lt Norman Barlow , took off from RAF Scampton at 2128, quickly followed by three colleagues. One of these, AJ-K, flown by Plt Off Vernon Byers, was the operation’s first of eight losses, shot down just over two hours later on the Dutch coast.
The Möhne Dam was breached at about 0049 on Sunday 17th May 1943, and the Eder Dam at 0150. Altogether, 53 aircrew were killed and three more taken prisoner. On the ground, there were 1294 casualties at the Möhne and 47 more in the Eder valley.
These are sobering figures, which we should remember when we commemorate the raid.
It is, however, fitting that Wg Cdr Guy Gibson, 617 Squadron’s commanding officer, is being remembered on the anniversary of his greatest achievement in the home village of his maternal grandparents, Porthleven in Cornwall. As his own parents lived in India, Gibson spent part of his childhood in the village, and by all accounts had a very happy time there. A new bronze plaque will be unveiled, and there will be representatives of the RAF present and, weather permitting, a flypast.

Hat tip: Graeme Stevenson