Joel Joy continues to unearth interesting new material about the Canadian Dambusters. He has recently got permission from the family of Plt Off Lewis Burpee to publish this picture of his crew, taken while he was on 106 Squadron.
Alex Bateman has kindly identified all the personnel present:
Left to right:
Sgt Joe Brady (Rear Gunner)
Sgt Bill Long (Mid Upper Gunner)
Sgt Guy Pegler (Flight Engineer)
Flt Sgt Lew Burpee (Pilot)
Flt Sgt Eddy Leavesley (Wireless Op)
Sgt George Goodings (Bomb Aimer)
The photo was taken on 106 Squadron at Syerston, on 18 January 1943 after a night trip to Berlin. The Lancaster is W4842 ‘ZN–H’.
Brady, Long, Pegler and Burpee went on to 617 Squadron in March 1943, and were four of the crew of AJ-S on the Dams Raid. They were all killed when they were shot down near Gilze Rijen in Holland, and are buried together in Bergen Op Zoom war cemetery. There are full details of Burpee’s 26 previous operations on the Air Force Association of Canada website. (In alphabetical order, scroll down to Burpee.)
It is incredible and of course satisfying, that new photographic material like this is still being discovered after all these years. The quest must always be ongoing, although in reality, as the living close relatives depart, material will inevitably cease. I have personally discovered–during my own family history efforts, that unthinking ‘younger’ members of family, have disposed of valuable old family photographs and documents, through lack of knowledge and interest. Beware !
My name is Professor Julian Lindley-French formerly Eisenhower Professor of Defence Strategy at the Netherlands Defence Academy and a current advisor to the UK Chief of Defence Staff. I live in Alphen five miles from Gilze-Rijen. The former Gilze-Rijen Station Commander Col A.C. Tjepkema RNLAF is a close friend and informed me about the flight of AJ-S. Last week my wife and I visited the grave of Flt Lt. Burpee to pay our respects. All is as it should be at Bergen-op-Zoom and it was a great honour to pay my respects to such a distinguished RCAF officer. With sincere regards, Julian Lindley-French
I simply cannot wait for the remake of the Dambusters..But I hope that now all the wartime censors have gone that a few better accuracies can be incorporated into the film.For example Sir Michael Redgrave had Wallis as a bumbling old man but the reality was that he was a hard taskmaster who got what he asked first time in his workshop.
I also hope that Harris can be shown to be a fierce individual with total scepticism..he is know to have described the Dam proposal as “tripe beyond the wildest description.” Chief of Air Staff Sir Charles Portal was equally doubtful.
Gibson did not choose his crew as shown in the original film..indeed he rarely spoke to the junior ranks at Scampton.He was a brilliant leader even if not particularly liked.
A few other now known facts such as aborted aircraft..one when the Upkeep bomb was torn off..another had r/t failure.And the raid aircraft were actually blown off course by the prevailing winds.
I hope that careful research into the true archives will portray the film accurately although the overall benefit of the raid beyond improving public morale is in doubt.even if the bravery of the crews was certainly not…a number of Russians were drowned in a camp below the Mohne Dam.
Nevertheless there is no doubt that with Peter Jackson’s excellent film track record that he will not disappoint..
I understand the need for accuracy when recreating momentous events like the famous Dambusters raid, and the points you raise with regard to certain portrayals are very relevant, but as a ‘piece of theatre’, film makers usually have to be aware of the wider general public’s need for visual and dramatic satisfaction too. A more ’rounded’ story is required in that situation, rather than the absolute accuracy expected in an out and out historic documentary. P G Croft
A propeller blade is in the Newark Air Museum, see:
This is amazing, my grandfather is George Goodings and I have searched for pictures and information from his time in the war. This is the first time I have seen anything relating to it. I am amazed and very proud!
Is your grandmother Elizabeth Goodings then ? I love the story that she met George after he crashed into the Bristol Channel. Is she still alive in Steyning ?
In 1988 (I think), I wrote a letter to Sir John Junor who was then editor of the Sunday Express. The object was to correct an article he had written in the newspaper about the Dambuster Raid. He published the letter in the letters column and to my surprise I received a phone call from a gentleman who lived no more than a mile from me. On the basis of the call I went to see him and his wife and this man was the brother of Sgt Guy Pegler (Flight Engineer) on Burpee’s aircraft that you feature in this article. he showed me the letter that his parents had received from Guy Gibson and also showed me numerous other items as well. Ten years later when I then went on a trip to the dams I went to see him again to see if he wanted me to take a wreath or anything similar. He had been over in previous years and his wife had since died and he wasn’t at all well, his sister was staying with him. They thanked me and I subsequently discovered that he had died and when in 2003 on the 60th anniversary of the raid I had the opportunity to visit Scampton, I saw the same letter in the museum there. It’s sometimes a small world, you never know who is living close by.