At the Albert Hall, for one night only

Pic: Delfi/Wikimedia Commons

I have realised that I haven’t yet written about the gala showing of The Dam Busters at the Albert Hall on 17 May, even though it’s now more than three weeks after the event. I had a very small walk-on role in the preliminary festivities, and I hope the fact that the composite picture of all 133 men from 617 Squadron was projected onto the screen behind me while I spoke was enough of a tribute to all of the men who took part in the raid.

It was great pleasure to meet members of several Dambuster families for the first time, and I hope that this network will grow in strength. Many more families also made contact with me during the other events of that week. It was also a pleasure to meet Sally Scott, the granddaughter of Michael Anderson, who read an extract from his memoirs about the making of the 1955 film.

Revelation of the night for me was Elizabeth Gaunt, née Wallis, saying that she had actually played a small non-credited speaking part in the 1955 film, as a laboratory technician in the sequence at the giant water tanks in the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington. Her appearance, when it came round 40 minutes or so into the film itself, drew a big cheer from the audience.

A bucket collection was taken for the RAF Benevolent Fund as the audience left the hall.

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8 thoughts on “At the Albert Hall, for one night only

  1. Charles T June 8, 2018 / 5:05 pm

    I attended the broadcast of the evening at the Odeon, Belfast and enjoyed it apart from the musical items which I thought largely unnecessary and irrelevant. Having been told that a bucket collection was to be taken up for RAFBF I left the auditorium with wallet in hand and was amazed to find that no collection was made, in my location at least.

    I’d really hate to think that someone, somewhere had decided that Belfast was not the right place for such a thing but if no collection was taken in ANY Odeon at all then I could only criticise both organisers and charity alike for missing such an opportunity.

    I have since visited the RAFBF website but they want online donors to go through a tedious process and all I wanted to do was throw something in the collecting bucket that night and move on.

  2. MARTIN GORDON DAVIES June 8, 2018 / 5:54 pm

    Well Done Charles – I thought it was a great event, and your contribution certainly added to it all. It was lovely to finally meet you and your wife in person and to see this amazing film restored and projected in 4k HD in such a prestigious venue.
    I hope people will always remember the Dambusters, and the significance of what they and other allied combatants did for us all to secure freedom.

  3. kzvxrpl June 8, 2018 / 5:55 pm

    I don’t live in the UK so was unable to see the film recently. For those, like me, who are tempted to buy the new release, is the restoration much of an upgrade?

  4. arthur rayner June 8, 2018 / 7:22 pm

    Yes, saw you on stage! Gosh, the codes on that “highly accurate” model, were not accurate. It was fascinating seeing the film again not seen it on the big screen for 50 years. The film was terribly jingoistic, but then I suppose being just 12 years after the event and with typical post war propaganda, but then very few accurate books on the subject were available, in fact none, since Brickhill’s was allegedly based upon Harry Humphries diaries, and as for Enemy Coast Ahead, it might as well have been Janet &John as regards accuracy!

    The event overall was interesting and it was a commemoration of the 53 men killed on the raid.

  5. Jerry Harwood June 9, 2018 / 10:46 am

    A great evening and good of you to sign the book for me.
    Glad to see you received recognition for your work.
    We owe so much to all those brave men and women during those years. Long may their memory live and we must do our best to make sure they are not forgotten

  6. Ray Hepner June 9, 2018 / 3:42 pm

    Re. Albert Hall…shame Dan Snow couldn’t find a tie and some pressed trousers! Should take example from Johnnie Johnson ,! My late father in law, ex Phantom of the Ruhr, would never go to such a function, without either. Old fashion respect and discipline. Ray Hepner.

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