Dambusters at the bar

Les Munro Dambusters Inn IMG_9916

Les Munro autographing the pictureboard at the Dambusters Inn, Scampton, May 2013. [Pic: Heather Allsworth/Nigel Favill]

A grand display of pictures of all the 133 aircrew from the Dams Raid can now be seen in the comfort of the Dambusters Inn in Scampton village, a few miles from the airfield which was the base for the raid itself. It represents a lot of hard work by Heather Allsworth and Nigel Favill, who live locally.
It is arranged in three sections, as can be seen in the photograph above taken during a visit by Les Munro. On the left are the crews who did not return, including the three men taken POW. In the middle above a painting by Keith Aspinall is Guy Gibson and his crew. On the right hand side are the crews who returned, together with the medals they were awarded for the raid.
Heather and Nigel should be congratulated for putting together this now complete collection. It’s open for all to see during pub licensing hours. A pint for me, and a glass of white wine for the lady.

Dambuster of the Day No. 45: Robert Urquhart

p_dr_urquhart

Pic: Bomber Command Museum of Canada

Flg Off R A Urquhart DFC
Navigator

Lancaster serial number: ED937/G
Call sign: AJ-Z

First wave. Second aircraft to attack Eder Dam. Mine overshot. Aircraft damaged, and shot down on return flight.

Robert Urquhart was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada on 2 August 1919, and had worked as an apprentice jeweller and a stock manager before the war. He applied to the RCAF in May 1940 and joined up in January 1941. He was initially selected for pilot/observer training and finally qualified as a navigator with a commission in January 1942.
He arrived in England in March 1942, and underwent further training. At one point he flew with Joe McCarthy, later to become a 617 Squadron colleague.
He joined 50 Squadron in August 1942 and undertook 15 operations with Sqn Ldr Moore as pilot. On 17 December 1942 he joined another crew, piloted by Sqn Ldr Birch, whose rear gunner was Richard Trevor-Roper, in a raid on Soltau where, although injured by flak by a Ju88 attacking from below, he continued to navigate with accuracy.
In the New Year, he teamed up with Henry Maudslay almost immediately after Maudslay resumed operational flying in 50 Squadron in January 1943. Maudslay and Uquhart’s first operation together was to Essen on 21 January 1943, and they flew another 11 operations together until the whole crew was posted into 617 Squadron on 25 March 1943.
On 4 April Maudslay and Urquhart flew to Farnborough and stayed there several days whilst modifications were undertaken to their Lancaster which included the fitting of two Aldis lamps so that the pilot could maintain the correct height for the attack on the dams. One was located in the front camera slot by the Bomb Aimers position, the second fitted in the rear of the bomb bay. The beams were adjusted to form a figure of eight (two touching circles) at the required height, and could be seen just forward of the leading edge of the starboard wing. The navigator could clearly see the circles through the Perspex blister on the starboard side, and could advise the pilot to adjust his height. On their return to Scampton, Maudslay and Urquhart made test runs across the airfield and then later the same evening at Skegness and in the Wash, which showed they could successfully keep to the required height.
After further training, the crew took off on the Dams Raid on 16 May 1943, and never returned. After they were shot down near Emmerich, Robert Urquhart, Michael Fuller and William Tytherleigh’s individual remains could not be separated and they were buried together in a joint grave.
By the time of the Dams Raid, Urquhart had amassed 28 operations and had been cited for a DFC for his operational flying in 50 Squadron. The citation read:

Since joining this squadron, Flying Officer Urquhart has flown on many operations. At all times his navigation has been of the highest order and the successes he achieved are due in no small measure to his skill. This officer took part in the daylight raids on Le Creusot and Milan and at other times on many heavily defended German targets. On one occasion during a low level raid on a target in North West Germany he was wounded by anti-aircraft fire but continued to navigate with accuracy. By his skill and determination Flying Officer Urquhart has set a high standard among his fellow navigators.

In fact the recommendation had been made originally on 20 March 1943 by the Commanding Officer of 50 Squadron, and endorsed by Air Vice Marshal Cochrane on 4 May 1943. Unfortunately the paperwork got ‘lost’ in the corridors of officialdom until the closing stages of the war.
The Canadian Minister of National Defence for Air wrote to Mr and Mrs Urquhart on 30 July 1945, apologising for the delay in the award and enclosed his ‘Operational Tour Wing’ and certificate. His DFC was eventually sent to his mother by registered mail on 7 November 1949, along with the Canadian War Memorial Cross.
Robert Urquhart is now buried alongside his comrades in Reichswald Cemetery.

[Thanks to Simon Muggleton for help with this updated post.]

More about Urquhart online:
Commonwealth War Grave Commission entry
Canadian Virtual War Memorial
Bomber Command Museum of Canada
Entry at airforce.ca website, including DFC citation (scroll down)
Auction details of his medals and logbook (includes short biography)

KIA 17.05.43

Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Sources:
Robert Owen, Steve Darlow, Sean Feast and Arthur Thorning, Dam Busters: Failed to Return, Fighting High 2013
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002

BBC Dambusters Pictureboard completed!

Pictureboard complete small

Great news from the BBC. Photographs of all 133 aircrew who took part in the Dams Raid have now been obtained for the News Online pictureboard which was launched on the 70th anniversary last May. A big hat-tip to the BBC’s Greig Watson and his team, who took on the work. Several pictures were added in the first flush of publicity after the anniversary, but the last five subjects were surprisingly elusive.
Then your humble scribe had a bright idea, and tracked down the identity card pictures of all of them in the unpublished papers of the late Harry Humphries, 617 Squadron’s first adjutant. Thanks are due to his son, Peter Humphries, for making them available both to this blog and the BBC.
Many thanks also to all the families, individual researchers, libraries and archives who have provided photographs. A full list is on the BBC website.
There is more information on how the pictures were tracked down in this article from BBC Lincolnshire.

Dambuster of the Day No. 44: Jack Marriott

Marriott ©PH

Pic: P Humphries

Sgt J Marriott DFM
Flight engineer

Lancaster serial number: ED937/G
Call sign: AJ-Z

First wave. Second aircraft to attack Eder Dam. Mine overshot. Aircraft damaged, and shot down on return flight.

Jack Marriott was born on 19 January 1920 in the small village of New Smithy in the Derbyshire Peak District, and went to the local village school at Chinley. He was a factory worker in a local bleach works before the war. At its outbreak, he joined the RAF and worked as ground crew.
As soon as the opportunity arose for experienced mechanics to retrain as heavy bomber flight engineers Marriott volunteered and after training was posted to 50 Squadron at Skellingthorpe. There he quickly gained a good reputation and was seen as setting a very high standard.
When Henry Maudslay joined the squadron, Marriott soon became his regular engineer, and flew with him on a number of operations before they were posted to 617 Squadron on 25 March 1942. When he left 50 Squadron, his CO recommended him for a DFM citing his ‘efficiency and enthusiasm for operational flying and his determination in helping to hit the targets’ as meriting the award. Sadly, it was only confirmed in July 1943, after his death, but was reported in the local press.
Like his comrades, Jack Marriott is buried in Reichswald Cemetery.

More about Marriott online:
Commonwealth War Grave Commission entry
Chinley School photo from the 1920s

KIA 17.05.43

Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Sources:
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002

Dambuster of the Day No. 43: Henry Maudslay

Maudslay crop

Sqn Ldr H E Maudslay DFC
Pilot

Lancaster serial number: ED937/G
Call sign: AJ-Z

First wave. Second aircraft to attack Eder Dam. Mine overshot. Aircraft damaged, and shot down on return flight.

Henry Maudslay was born in Leamington Spa on 21 July 1921. His family came from an industrialist background, and his father founded the Standard Motor Company. His great-great-great grandfather, also Henry Maudslay, was an important 19th century inventor, and appeared on a British postage stamp in 2009.

Henry-Maudslay-Machine-Making
While still at Eton College, where he excelled at both rowing and athletics, he volunteered for the RAF, and was called up in July 1940. After training as a pilot in Canada he returned to England in February 1941. His first operational posting was with 44 Squadron at RAF Waddington, flying Hampdens. There he flew on 29 operations, and won the DFC for a single handed attack on two enemy cargo vessels.
In December 1941 he was attached with other members of 44 Squadron to Boscombe Down to carry out service trials and work with the new Avro Lancaster. He carried on in various training roles until he returned to operations with 50 Squadron at Skellingthorpe in December 1942, flying Lancasters. All six of the crew he eventually brought with him to 617 Squadron flew with him at some time in the 13 operations he undertook over the next three months, although they only appear to have all flown together as a complete crew once, on 3 March 1943 on an operation to Hamburg.
Maudslay was promoted to Squadron Leader and became B Flight Commander of the new 617 Squadron. As Guy Gibson was often absent on important meetings, a lot of the organisation of training fell to him and Melvin Young, the other Flight Commander.
Shortly before the Dams Raid Henry Maudslay, together with Norman Barlow, witnessed Bill Astell’s will. All three would be lost on the raid.
Maudslay had led Bill Astell and Les Knight in formation to the Möhne Dam, but Astell’s aircraft crashed into high tension wires en route. This meant that after the successful attack on the Möhne, there were only three Upkeep mines left to attack the Eder – a target which was even more difficult to approach.
Shannon was first to attack and made three or four attempts but couldn’t get the correct height and speed, after a dive and tight turn. Maudslay then tried twice with similar problems. During these runs he may have damaged the bomb release mechanism on trees. Shannon made two more dummy runs, then dropped his mine, which exploded with an upsurge of water. However, the dam wasn’t breached so Maudslay made a third attempt on the target at 0145 but his Upkeep was dropped too late and exploded on hitting the parapet of the dam without bouncing. This may have damaged his aircraft. Gibson asked if he was OK, and Maudslay’s faint reply was ‘I think so, stand by’. Meanwhile, Les Knight finally made a successful run and blew a large hole in the dam wall.
Maudslay nursed his damaged aircraft slowly back towards the Dutch border, but his luck ran out near Emmerich at 0243, when he was shot down. One of the flak gunners was Johannes Doerwald, seen below meeting this blog’s author in June 2013.
CF+JDoernwald lores

Henry Maudslay and all his crew died. They were first buried in Dusseldorf, but after the war, they were reinterred in Reichswald War Cemetery.

More about Maudslay online:
Commonwealth War Grave Commission entry
Detailed biography at Barford Community website

KIA 17.05.43

Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Sources:
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002
Barford Community Website

Dambuster of the Day No. 42: Jack Buckley

IWM HU91948

Group picture taken outside Officers’ Mess at Scampton, 17 May 1943. Jack Buckley is third from the right in the front row, standing between David Shannon and Les Knight. [Pic IWM HU91948]

Flg Off J Buckley
Rear gunner

Lancaster serial number: ED929/G
Call sign: AJ-L
First wave. First aircraft to attack Eder Dam. Mine dropped accurately but no breach caused. Aircraft returned safely.

Jack Buckley was one of the most experienced air gunners in 617 Squadron, and one of only eight who flew on the Dams Raid already commissioned. Born in Bradford in 1919, he had joined the RAF at the outset of war. After training he first joined 225 Squadron, and then later 75 (New Zealand) Squadron, with whom he flew 35 operations, mainly with Plt Off Fisher. He was commissioned in June 1942, and then transferred to a training unit.
He joined David Shannon’s crew in 617 Squadron in early April 1943, and became an important part of the squadron. Len Sumpter remembered him as owning a racing car, and also usually having a pint in his hand. This reputation looks to have been cemented in the famous ‘morning after the Dams Raid’ picture, taken on the steps of the Scampton Officers’ Mess on 17 May 1943. Buckley is obviously laughing out loud – perhaps affected by a combination of quite a lot of booze and no sleep.
He was awarded the DFC in July 1943 and flew on a number more operations with Shannon. In the summer of 1944, he went back to training and remained there to the end of the war.
Jack Buckley died in Bradford in May 1990.

 Survived war. Deceased.

Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Sources:
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002

Dambuster of the Day No. 41: Brian Jagger

p_fraser2

Brian Jagger in the back row of a group in his 50 Squadron days. The picture is taken from the collection of the family of John Fraser, and his name was written in by Fraser’s wife, Doris. [Pic: Fraser family]

Sgt B Jagger
Front gunner

Lancaster serial number: ED929/G
Call sign: AJ-L
First wave. First aircraft to attack Eder Dam. Mine dropped accurately but no breach caused. Aircraft returned safely.

Brian Jagger, David Shannon’s front gunner, came from an artistic family. His father, David Jagger, was a well known portrait painter and his uncle, Charles Sargeant Jagger, was a sculptor and artist, and was responsible for many memorials to the dead of the First World War. His aunt, Edith Jagger, was also an artist.
Jagger was born in Chelsea on 9 November 1921 and joined the RAF in 1941. He qualified as an air gunner in the summer of 1942, and was posted to 50 Squadron. Most of his operations were flown in a crew piloted by Sgt Norman Schofield, a Canadian, in a crew which also included two other Canadians who would fly on the Dams Raid, John Fraser and Ken Earnshaw. It may have been one of these who recommended Jagger to David Shannon when he was putting together his crew for 617 Squadron.
After the Dams Raid, Jagger flew on several other operations with the Shannon crew, and was commissioned in October 1943. He was transferred to a training unit in the spring of 1944, and was killed in a flying accident on 30 April 1944, in a Lancaster of 49 Squadron. On a Fighter Affiliation Exercise, a dinghy became released and wrapped itself around the tailplane causing the aircraft to crash.
Jagger Officer portrait
One of his father’s best known paintings is known as ‘Portrait of an officer of the RAF during World War II’, painted in 1941, which was held in the Arthur Ackermann and Peter Johnson Collection. It came up for auction at Christies in 2008, but was unsold. Although the title says the subject is an officer, he is quite clearly wearing sergeant’s stripes. The subject is not identified, but he bears a striking resemblance to Brian Jagger, and could well be of him.
Brian Jagger is buried in Cambridge City Cemetery.

More about Jagger online:
Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry
David Jagger’s Wikipedia entry

KIA 30.4.44

Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Sources:
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002