Norman Barlow’s unexploded mine, photographed by the Germans soon after the raid. [Pic: IWM]
In a nice follow up to a plea first publicised on this blog, the Sunday Telegraph has reported on the plaque installed at the spot where AJ-E crashed on the night of the Dams Raid. Local historian Volker Schürmann discovered that there was no recognition of the site, near where he lives in the small town of Haldern on the Dutch-German border.
After pinpointing the exact location where Norman Barlow’s aircraft crashed, after colliding with electricity pylons shortly before midnight on 16 May 1943, he decided to erect his own temporary plaque, and has started a campaign to install a permanent memorial.
Volker told the Telegraph:
The Dambusters are not well known in Germany. Growing up in Haldern, I did not know about his crash. I don’t think many people from this area know the story. Perhaps just a few old people who lived near the crash site – but there are now many of them left now.
It is just a small field with a lake in the background and there is nothing there to tell anyone what happened there.
I’m from two generations after the war. It was a dirty time, but why not remember these people? It is good for people to know what happened. In Germany, it is difficult to celebrate or commemorate the war, but it is a little easier for those like me from the second generation after it happened.
After all the secrecy surrounding the raid, the irony was that Barlow’s mine did not explode. It was defused by one of Germany’s top explosives experts, and the secrets of its revolving mechanism quickly uncovered.