Dams Raid 75th anniversary: updated calendar of events

Here is a list of events organised to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Dams Raid in May. It will be updated again nearer the time of the actual anniversary, which falls on 16/17 May.

Friday 4 May 2018, 12.30pm. Gilze-Rijen Air Base, Netherlands. Unveiling of memorial to the crew of AJ-S, piloted by Plt Off Lewis Burpee, which was shot down on the edge of this airfield on the Dams Raid. The crew are buried in the nearby Bergen-op-Zoom war cemetery. Weather permitting, there will be a flypast by the BBMF Lancaster at a time to be confirmed.
More details here.

Saturday 12 May 2018. Woodhall Spa. The 617 Squadron Association Annual Dams Dinner will be held at the Petwood Hotel, Woodhall Spa, for members of the Association and invited guests.

Sunday 13 May 2018, 10.00am. Woodhall Spa. 617 Squadron Association Annual Wreath-laying Ceremony and Service, 617 Squadron War Memorial, Royal Square, Woodhall Spa. Members of the public welcome.

Sunday 13 May 2018, 11.30am. Woodhall Spa. Service of dedication and unveiling of the new Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust memorial at the former airfield at RAF Woodhall Spa. Service taken by Air Vice Marshal Venerable Robin Turner CB DL, retired Chaplain-in-Chief of the RAF. The memorial will be unveiled by Wg Cdr John Bell MBE DFM Ld’H, President of 617 Sqn Association, who flew with both 619 and 617 Sqns from the airfield in 1943/44.

Sunday 13 May 2018, 2.00pm. International Bomber Command Centre, Canwick Hill, Lincoln. Unveiling by Dambuster family members of the 133 portraits ‘Dambusters Reunited’ by Dan Llywelyn Hall. More details here.

Wednesday 16 May, 9.28pm to Thursday 17 May, 6.15am. RAF Cosford, Shropshire.  University of Birmingham Air Squadron (UBAS) charity march around RAF Cosford airfield. Nineteen teams of seven, representing the nineteen Lancaster bombers and their crew, will walk laps of the airfield overnight between 9.28pm on 16 May and 6.30am on 17 May – the first take-off and last landing times of the raid. Other volunteers, supporters and participants are welcome and encouraged to join in and do as little or much as they choose. In aid of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and organised by UBAS. More details here.

Thursday 17 May 2018, 8.30am. The Royal Aeronautical Society, 4 Hamilton Place, London W1J 7BQ. Time to be confirmed. A symposium to review the origin, preparation, execution and achievements of Operation Chastise. Speakers will include Paul Stoddart, Dr Peter Caddick-Adams, Seb Cox, Eric Grove, Dr Robert Owen, David Jordan and Paul Strong. More details here.

Thursday 17 May 2018, 12.30pm. Ladybower Inn, Bamford, Derbyshire. Charity lunch in aid of The Barnes Wallis Foundation on the 17 May at The Ladybower Inn. Speaker: Peter Rix. The Inn is adjacent to the Howden, Ladybower and Derwent Dams where the squadron trained. Tickets are £35 per head and must be purchased in advance from the Ladybower Inn on 01433 651241.

Thursday 17 May 2018, 6.00pm. Hardwick Avenue, Chepstow, Gwent. Unveiling of blue plaque memorial at childhood home of Dams Raid pilot Bill Townsend DFM. Event organised by Chepstow Town Council. At the conclusion of this event, and if the weather permits, the BBMF Lancaster will perform a flypast at about 6.40pm. This will be one of the few public events where the Lancaster can be observed over the anniversary.

Thursday 17 May 2018, 7.15pm. Royal Albert Hall, London SW7 2AP. Commemorative evening paying tribute to 617 Squadron. Introduced by Dan Snow. Guests will include family members of Dams Raid crew members, former members of 617 Squadron, historian Paul Beaver, plus a ‘bouncing bomb’ experiment and music from the Glenn Miller Orchestra. This event will culminate with a screening of the 1955 film The Dam Busters, directed by Michael Anderson and starring Sir Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd, on a 40ft screen in 4K definition. This event is in support of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. More details here.
The film is also being simulcast at 300 UK cinemas. Tickets for your local showing can be purchased here.

Friday 18 May, 11.00am. Castricum-aan-Zee, Netherlands. Unveiling of the memorial to the crew of AJ-A, the Dams Raid aircraft piloted by Sqn Ldr Melvin Young, which was shot down just off the Dutch coast on its return journey from the Eder Dam. The crew are buried in the nearby Bergen cemetery. More details here.

Further events are expected to be announced between now and May 2018. This list will be updated when these occur. For the latest version of this list click on this link on the blog.

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11 thoughts on “Dams Raid 75th anniversary: updated calendar of events

  1. Darrell Goonetilleke April 20, 2018 / 10:33 am

    Sir,Thank you for your valued efforts in maintaining an informative blog such as this.
    May I respectfully request the name of the great inventor mentioned in relation to the Charity lunch at the Ladybower inn on the 17th May, be corrected to read Barnes ‘ Wallis ‘ instead of ‘ Wallace ‘.
    Could be it was a ‘ typo ‘ error. Thank you.

    • charlesfoster April 20, 2018 / 10:37 am

      Thanks, Darrell. Very embarrassing! CF

  2. Mike Townsend April 20, 2018 / 7:11 pm

    Good evening
    My father, Bill Townsend, was the pilot of ‘O’ Orange on the dams raid. My father was awarded the CGM for his part in the raid and he and his crew were only second to Gibson’s in terms of overall decoration.
    It is interesting to read about the events planned to mark the 75th anniversary and two events in particular concern me. Firstly, the unveiling of a plaque at my father’s childhood home in Chepstow scheduled for Thursday 17th May. The council “are pleased that family members have managed to find out about this event”. The VIP list includes town councillors and the Sheriff of Gwent and the town council are hoping to get an Air Commodore to perform the unveiling. I find it disappointing that my mother, possibly the last surviving widow of a squadron member, has not been invited to the event, let alone as a VIP or guest of honour.
    Similarly, I notice from your blog that there is to be a celebration at the Albert Hall to which family members have been invited. Members of this family have NOT been invited. No doubt the hall will be full of people with tenuous links to the dams raid and I hope they have a wonderful evening.

    Mike Townsend
    [telephone numbers redacted]

  3. charlesfoster April 20, 2018 / 8:45 pm

    Mike: In my defence. On the Chepstow event, I didn’t say anything above about whether or not the family was told. You are presumably commenting on something posted on a local news site. And on the Albert Hall event, this is what was said to me. I will reply to you privately by email tomorrow. Charles Foster

  4. Nigel Favill April 21, 2018 / 10:32 am

    Mike , did your father ( Bill Townsend, Pilot ) ever mention why the Flight Engineer on AJ-O, Sgt D Powell never got a medal awarded for the Dams raid when all the other six crew members did ?. This has always been a mystery to me and a sad one .

  5. Ian May 11, 2018 / 7:58 pm

    Last Friday 4th May 18 …I was cycling along Carr lane / Lydgate lane just under Ladybower dam. I knew nothing about the celebrations, it was pure chance I was there. I heard a noise, looked up and there’s this enormous plane banking heavily around the corner! It was quite a surprise!

  6. Peter Phelps July 5, 2018 / 7:35 am

    What time flight past on July 10th 0ver london

    • charlesfoster July 6, 2018 / 11:52 pm

      Not sure why you think this is the best place to ask this question, but I think it’s at 1pm.

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