Filming “The Dam Busters”: a navigator’s logbook

William Hill was serving as a Navigator in 83/150 Squadron after the war when he was called on to be part of the crews put together to fly the three working Lancasters used in making the 1955 film. With only three operational aircraft left, various subterfuges were used so that they looked like more, including painting different squadron call signs on each side.
William’s son Stephen has kindly sent me a cutting from an unknown newspaper published some 20 years later, which recalls the writer’s memories of the film shoot, and also the relevant pages from his father’s logbook.


8 thoughts on “Filming “The Dam Busters”: a navigator’s logbook

  1. Jerry Harwood September 1, 2012 / 12:00 pm

    Thanks so much for this detail. Fascinating and must go north up the coast from Southwold to see if I can spot the place where the Lancs left the sea

  2. terry hale September 1, 2012 / 12:03 pm

    are they making the film dambuster

  3. Richard Hickmott September 3, 2012 / 10:19 am

    @ terry hale

    If you mean the re-make, then no. Most of that, to my knowledge, is being filmed in NZ.

  4. Tony Souter September 12, 2013 / 9:39 am

    I’ve only recently discovered this very interesting site and have left a post on another page concerning Richard Thorpe’s sad demise. Flt Lt Ken Souter is my father [I see there is a reference to him in a page of a navigator’s log book here]. He’s a spritely 93 years old and often talks fondly of the two Polish members of the team, Ted and Joe. Re the picture of a low-flying Lancaster on Windemere he tells a story [which also appears in Jonathan Falconer’s excellent book about the filming] about the 60ft of the original raid not looking particularly impressive on film so the director asked the crews to fly lower. This they did, somewhat reluctantly, to the extent that the prop wash was throwing up spray from the surface of the lake.’Bloody dangerous’ was my father’s comment at the time. Fortunately, I have all his log books around the time of the filming and they are an interesting chronological record of a unique time.

    • Stephen Hill April 6, 2016 / 7:22 pm

      Hi Tony – I did not see the comments section on this page until I was looking for it to show a friend. My father, William Hill, passed away about 8 years ago after a long tussle with Parkinson’s. As a kid he told me about the antics that went on to try and get the scenes for the film; especially the low passes over the Dams. He spent time on Canberras and finally finished up his service on Vulcans at Waddington. I believe that the Wellington in the log book is at Hendon.

    • Simon Batchelor August 24, 2020 / 5:28 pm

      Hi Tony,
      I have only just come across this website. My Father was Colin Batchelor a navigator who flew with your father I would love to meet up as I am researching my fathers life for our family.
      Regards Simon Batchelor

      • Tony Souter August 25, 2020 / 8:26 am

        Hello Simon, I’ve just caught up with your reply to my posting of some years ago. Luckily Ken is still around altho’ now a not so spritely 101yrs old! Why don’t we establish email contact: [email address redacted]

      • Simon Batchelor August 25, 2020 / 10:51 am

        I will send a separate email Cheers Simon

Leave a Reply to terry hale Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.