Dambuster Crash Sites: revised driver’s guide

best mohne dam photo 2022

Revised version September 2022
Text and pictures by Malcolm Peel

On the evening of 16th May 1943, 133 aircrew in 19 Lancasters took off from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire to attack the German dams east of the Ruhr. Eight aircraft and 53 men did not return. Three men survived their crashes and became Prisoners of War.

The following guide to these sites was initially compiled in August 2018 and has been revised in September 2022. They serve as as an update to the excellent book written by Chris Ward and Andreas Wachtel, Dambuster Crash Sites, published in 2007 by Pen & Sword. Reference to this book is highly recommended for its historical content and descriptions of the discovery of the sites.

However, due to the ravages of time over the years, the construction or demolition of buildings, the changes in road layouts and other key landmarks, some of the Tour Guides in the book have become awkward to follow. Also, the book was published before the era of sat nav and Google Maps. For ease of navigation, the co-ordinates for all the sites (or the nearest vehicular access point) are given below, as well as some for key points on some routes.

If you are travelling from the UK, it is suggested that you travel to the dams first, joining the Corridor at the Möhne. To simplify its compilation, the following guide has been presented in that order as this route can also avoid using the very busy motorway network through the Ruhr around Essen, Duisburg and Dortmund.

Many users of this Guide will have a mobile navigation device of some description and therefore may only be using the co-ordinates given to each location. This might mean that you may be approaching the memorial from a different direction, which renders the detailed routes irrelevant.

However, if you are using them, they have been described from either the nearest town/city or from a major location, i.e. road junctions, castle, dam, etc., as one never knows when your sat nav is going to let one down! Plus, it’s always good to have some indication that you are on the right road so, sometimes, landmarks are identified along the way.

Of the many books written about the raid, one of the best is James Holland’s Dambusters: The Race To Smash The Dams, Transworld Publishers 2012, which explains in a very readable format the reasons for the raid, the development of the bouncing bomb, the formation of 617 Squadron and the raid itself. There are also some excellent maps, diagrams and a complete Timeline of Operation Chastise.

Mention must also be made of Charles Foster’s very informative work, The Complete Dambusters: The 133 Men Who Flew on the Dams Raid, History Press 2018, which gives the story of each of the airmen who took part in the raid. A photo of each man is included as well as much information on the raid itself.

The Crash Corridor

crash corridor map

Ward/Watchel describe in great detail how and why each aircraft crashed.

Hopgood at Soest was the only one to be shot down while attacking a dam – all the others were the victims of flak or a crash on the flight either to or from the dams. The only two not in the Corridor are shown with a cross on the above map – Byers in the sea off Texel, north of Den Helder and Burpee who crashed on the air base at Gilze-Rijen, between Breda and Tilburg.

The Dams
The co-ordinates for the three main dams are as follows:
Eder
51.184559
9.060715

Sorpe
51.353044
7.964041

Möhne
51.491659
8.061964

The Cemeteries
The casualties are buried in five cemeteries in Germany and Holland.

cemetery map 1 2022212 900px

Rheinberg War Cemetery:
Hopgood and crew

Reichswald Forest War Cemetery:
Maudslay and crew
Astell and crew
Barlow and crew
Ottley and crew

Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery:
Burpee and crew

Bergen General Cemetery:
Young and crew

The grave of James McDowell, Byers’ rear gunner, is in Harlingen General Cemetery (see below) – the bodies of the rest of Byers’ crew were never recovered and they are remembered on the RAF Memorial at Runnymede. There is now a memorial to them in Harlingen General Cemetery.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website gives full details of all those killed and includes maps and co-ordinates for the cemeteries.

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Flt Lt J.V. Hopgood DFC & Bar
ED925 AJ-M
Near Soest, NW of Möhnesee
Co-ordinates:
51.535276
7.996486

The most logical route to this site is from the dam. Turn right out of the car park and proceed towards Möhnesee, passing the Hotel Haus Delecke on your right.

At the roundabout, turn left onto the 229 and after about 2.0 miles, left onto the 516 towards Ense … it’s one of those weird junctions that takes you under the 516, turns left then right.

After 3.5 miles, turn right onto the L745 An Der Lanner towards Volbringen.

After passing through the village, you will come to a crossroads with a stone tower on the right … go straight on.

In less than a mile, look for some low, dark green farm buildings on the left and just before a bridge under the motorway, turn right onto the track on the right (above co-ordinates refer). This track is initially tarmac but that soon becomes stony.

The track drops down with a wood coming up your left but before the road rises again, look left … about 100 yards across some open ground, you will see a tall yellow pole and just beyond and to the right, the wooden post with a brass plaque adjacent to a wooden bench.

20220905_154737 800px

It is strongly advised that you do NOT attempt to cross the open ground to the memorial by car as the ground is very uneven and probably water-logged in bad weather.

Park on the right and walk up the rise – at the top, a further track on the left will take you down to the memorial.

P1030997

This is the closest accessible point to the crash site which is probably in the field off to the right where the motorway runs now.

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Plt Off W Ottley DFC
ED910 AJ-C
North of Hamm
Co-ordinates (nearest vehicular access):
51.724373
7.792254

This is one where you’ll need hiking boots or wellies!

Take the B63 north out of Hamm towards Munster, crossing over the river Lippe, and after about 1.5 miles, look out for the KAUFLAND superstore on your left.

Straight on at the next roundabout … the one with the pink elephant wearing headphones (I kid you not!)

Through the traffic lights with MANSFELDERSTR and the SENIORENZENTRUM ST JOSEPH on your right.

After about one mile, a small signpost for GEINEGGE comes up on your left … which is both a street name and a village … and on your right is a red-brick house.

SLOW DOWN.

On the right and immediately after the house is a field with an electricity pylon.

P1040199

The track to the crash site is at the far end of this field just before a line of trees and runs at right-angles to the main road.

It is suggested that you reverse into this track but do NOT attempt to drive further unless you have a 4X4 or similar vehicle.

Walk down the track passing the pylon on your right … it has a black and yellow sign carrying the number 1614. If it doesn’t, you are in the wrong field!

Carry on to the corner of the wood in front of you.

P1040195

The track bends left and right around the corner of the wood – amongst the trunks of two trees on the left, there are the remains of a wooden structure of some description.

Follow the line of the wood on your right for about 200 yards and the wooden cross is on your right in front of the crater created when the Upkeep exploded on impact.

Depending on the season, the ground leading up to the memorial could be very overgrown so great care should be taken.

The original memorial was situated in the crater which frequently becomes water-logged and the cross became rotten.

P1040183

The bronze plaque (now barely legible) which was attached to the first cross is now fixed to the rear.

In the Spring of 2022, the area around the memorial was cleared by a local community group and consideration is being given to relocate it to a more accessible site. However, negotiations are still in the early stages and nothing is likely to occur for some time.

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Flt Lt W Astell DFC
ED864 AJ-B
North of Raesfeld
Co-ordinates (memorial site):
51.808419
6.868116

From the Castle in Raesfeld, turn right at the roundabout and follow the road through the town. Following the B70, turn left at the roundabout north towards Borken with the Ford dealer, Autohaus Jacobs, on the left.

P1040202

Across a second roundabout and after about 1.5 miles, straight on at the lights. About 100 yards further on, look for SIEPENWEG, a narrow tarmac road on the right.

P1040203

After 200 yards, fork left – following Siepenweg.
After about ½ mile, fork right onto HESSEBREE.
Straight on at a crossroads and over a small bridge with a 9-ton weight limit.

P1040058

1.8 miles later, turn right onto HUNGERWEG and the memorial is on your left.

If you stand with your back to the memorial, at 2 o’clock, you will see an electricity pylon – it is conceivable that the 1943 version of this finally brought down the Lancaster which crashed in the field behind the memorial.

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Flt Lt R N G Barlow DFC RAAF
ED927 AJ-E
Haldern, near Rees
Co-ordinates (blue RAF sign):
51.792133
6.440214
Co-ordinates (larger parking area):
51.796722
6.448845
Co-ordinates (memorial site):
51.79662
6.442784

Major road/rail construction work is taking place near the railway station in Haldern, and it is reported that the work will continue into 2024.

Although not the shortest route, but certainly the easiest, is to take the A3 autobahn, leaving at Junction 4 and joining the 67 southbound towards REES.

In about 1.5 miles, turn left onto L549 HALDERNER STR and then after about one mile, take the narrow tarmac road to your left … an Air Force blue signpost with the RAF roundel is pointing your way! (Co-ordinates above)

20220905_111248

About 500 yards along this road, you see a cycle path on the left with a barrier blocking vehicular access – this marks the start of the field in which Barlow’s Lancaster crashed.

P1040211

The memorial is near the wind turbine to the right of the trees in the photo but for now, carry straight on to another turbine. The area in front of the turbine is/was partially fenced off but parking is still possible.

The plane crashed somewhere between the base of this turbine and the small, stagnant pond in the little field on the other side of the wire fence.

Walk or drive back to the cycle path – parking is possible – JUST!
Go down the path until you reach a rectangular field with the above turbine at 3 o’clock.
Either walk diagonally across or around the field to the memorial at the foot of a tree in the corner.

P1040208

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Sqn Ldr H E Maudslay DFC
ED937 AJ-Z
North east of Emmerich
Co-ordinates (memorial site):
51.8565
6.276442

From the A3 motorway, take Exit 3 A220 south towards Emmerich and Kleve.

The above co-ordinates may now instruct you to turn left at the KUSTER OIL filling station on the left – this route will still take you to the memorial but over some narrow tracks and blind corners/junctions. You are advised to carry on and …

… at traffic lights, with another KUSTER OIL/SPIEL STATION at 2 o’clock, turn left onto L16 WESELER STR

After about a mile, look out for the big orange OBI superstore and turn left at the roundabout.

Drive past the INTEROVO Egg Group and just before the CONVENT warehouse, turn left onto BUDBERGER STR

Fork left onto FLASSERTWEG and follow this road until you come to a left-and-right bend in the road with a red and white barrier ahead.

150 ATTEND 617 SQUADRON DAMBUSTER MEMORIAL UNVEILING IN GERMANY
The Lancaster crashed somewhere in the field behind the memorial.

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Plt Off L J Burpee DFM RCAF
ED865 AJ-S
On the former Luftwaffe night fighter station at Gilze-Rijen
Co-ordinates (entrance to airbase):
51.577043
4.926065

This memorial was dedicated in early 2018 and is situated on an active airbase operated by the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

P1040150

There are, as one can imagine, very tight security implications in gaining access to the base and the best way to arrange a tour is to contact Ton Van Den Hoof at the museum, giving at least two months’ notice of an intended visit. Email traditiekamer.gilzerijen@mindef.nl. It is also recommended that you email Sander van der Hall, a local supporter of the project: sandervanderhall@home.nl

However, be advised that entry permission may be withdrawn or postponed (perhaps at very short notice) should an emergency situation arise.

A tour will also include a visit to the museum which, although concentrating on the very interesting history of the airbase, has an excellent section containing Dambusters memorabilia.

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Sqn Ldr H M “Dinghy” Young DFC & Bar
ED887 AJ-A
In the sea off Castricum-aan-Zee, Strand
Co-ordinates (nearest vehicular access):
52.5574
4.610735

Castricum-aan-Zee is on the coast approx. 25 miles north west of Amsterdam.

Take the A9 north from Haarlem and at Junction 10, turn left onto N203.

After approx. 3.5 miles, turn left onto N513 SEEWEG

This road only goes to the Strand, a very popular beach with two huge car parks.

P1040157 (2)

This was taken on a Friday afternoon in June 2018 and the other car park was almost full. GO EARLY OR OFF-SEASON. Parking charges apply but there’s no alternative unless you have a Disabled Badge.

Walk past the cafes; the memorial is on the left at the start of the slope down towards the beach.

P1040158

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Plt Off V W Byers RCAF
ED934 AJ-K
In the sea, off Texel/Vlieland
Co-ordinates (nearest vehicular access)
53.177619
5.424722

The memorial is in Harlingen General Cemetery is located in the north of the town on BEGRAAFPLAATLAAN and parking is possible nearby on MIDLUMERLAAN.

P1060590 900px

P1060592 900px

On entering the cemetery and after approx. 50m, turn left and follow the path to the CWGC graves – the memorial to the whole crew is just beyond, adjacent to the boundary.

Only one body was recovered, that of JAMES McDOWELL, the rear gunner. He was presumably thrown clear and the strong current took his body north. It was found floating in the Vliestrom Channel on 22 June 1943. It was brought ashore and he is buried in Plot E Row 4 Grave 11. The remaining bodies were never found and they are officially listed as ‘missing, presumed dead’.

As previously mentioned, the above guides were compiled in July 2018 and updated in September 2022 and while every care has been taken to provide accurate information, responsibility cannot be accepted for changes in buildings or other structures, road layouts and signage, natural and other landmarks, or any other factors used to describe routes.

AJ-C crash site cleaned up, thanks to local German history group

AJ C Stone after cleaning with members of the Heimatverein Hamm-Heessen 960px

Members of the Heimatverein Hamm-Heessen and Heimatverein Walstedde show the results of their work. [Pic: Heimatverein Hamm-Heessen]

Here is a heart-warming story to mark last weekend’s 79th anniversary of the Dams Raid.

For many years the memorial erected in the 1970s at the spot near Hamm where Lancaster ED910 AJ-C crashed in the early hours of 17 May 1943 has been in a poor state of repair. Malcolm Peel visited it for his 2018 guide for this blog, and noted that it was overgrown and did not seem to have been cared for.

AJ C Stone and cross before 800px

The memorial before clean-up work was started. [Pic: Heimatverein Hamm-Heessen]

The memorial commemorates the crew of AJ-C, which crashed after being struck by flak. The crew comprised Plt Off Warner (“Bill”) Ottley DFC, pilot, Sgt Ronald Marsden, flight engineer, Flg Off Jack Barrett, navigator, Sgt Jack Guterman DFM, wireless operator, Sgt Thomas Johnston, bomb aimer, Sgt Harry Strange, front gunner, and Sgt Fred Tees, rear gunner. 

There was in fact one survivor from the crash, rear gunner Fred Tees. He heard Jack Guterman say over the intercom ‘Möhne gone’. Almost immediately Ottley started a sentence: ‘We go to…,’ when ‘a hell of a commotion’ occurred to interrupt him. The aircraft was suddenly bathed in searchlights and a tremendous barrage of flak struck it, mainly from the port side. Tees then heard Ottley say, ‘I’m sorry boys, we’ve had it,’ but thereafter his memory of events became blank.

Tees’s turret was blown clear of the rest of the aircraft and he regained consciousness on the ground nearby, very badly burnt. He was soon captured and spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner. Bill Ottley and the rest of the crew died instantly. They were buried by the Germans in Hamm and reburied after the war in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.

Now it seems that a group of German people from the Heimatverein Hamm-Heessen and the Heimatverein Walstedde (two local history groups) have decided to clean up the site, stripping back the vegetation and creating a new level area around the cross and plaque.

AJ C Stone free 800px

[Pic: Heimatverein Hamm-Heessen]

The original stone can now be seen clearly, with its inscription:
Bewahret den frieden
krieg ist grausam
[Keep the peace
war is cruel]

Here is a report in German on their Facebook page.

Many thanks to the groups for their work which will be much appreciated by future visitors.

Here is a newspaper report in German from the 1980s describing the initial installation.

press report hammer stadtanzeiger 1980

[Pic: Heimatverein Hamm-Heessen]

Thanks to Volker Schürmann for information for this post. Volker has also sent this picture of the memorial to the AJ-E crew at Haldern, taken last weekend. Blog readers will know that Volker was the driving force in getting this memorial installed.

AJ-E 800px

Pic: Volker Schürmann

Two crash site tributes on anniversary of Dams Raid

Haldern 20210517_103135 800px

The AJ-E memorial near Haldern, Germany. (Pic: Volker Schürmann)

Curt image0 800px

The AJ-Z memorial near Emmerich am Rhein, Germany. (Pic: Curt Fredriksson)

The tributes shown above at the crash site memorials for AJ-E and AJ-Z were left by local people on the 78th anniversary of the Dams Raid, 17 May 2021. I am sure that all readers of this blog are very grateful to those who are responsible for installing and maintaining these memorials. (Many apologies to all concerned for not posting these pictures earlier.)

AJ-E was piloted by Flt Lt Norman Barlow DFC, an Australian who had previously completed a tour of operations in 61 Squadron. While flying at low level towards an attack on the Sorpe Dam, their aircraft hit electricity wires near Haldern and crashed at 2350. All on board were killed.

AJ-Z was piloted by Sqn Ldr Henry Maudslay DFC, commander of 617 Squadron’s B Flight, who had previously completed a tour of operations in 44 Squadron. His aircraft was brought down by flak, returning towards the coast after dropping its mine at the Eder Dam. All on board were killed.

The fourteen men from both crews are now buried in Reichswald Commonwealth War Cemetery, shown below in another photograph by Curt Fredriksson.

We should never forget that as well as the 53 men from Britain and the Commonwealth who died on the Dams Raid another 1,341 lost their lives as a result of the destruction caused by the bombing. 

Curt Reichwald image2 800px

Pic: Curt Fredriksson

Pointing the way to the Haldern memorial

The memorial to the crew of Dams Raid Lancaster AJ-E, which crashed on 16 May 1943 killing all the crew, is a few hundred yards off a quiet country road near a quiet country village in a quiet corner of Germany – and therefore a little hard to find. So the local history society, the Heimatverein Haldern, has now erected three signs to help the increasing number of tourists who are now coming to the area.

Many people have travelled to the area since the memorial was built in 2015, coming from as far as Australia, Canada and the USA and also several European countries. In August a large group of tourist came in a car cavalcade organised by the European Driving Tours group, as seen below.

Credit once again to Volker Schürmann and his colleagues in the Heimatverein Haldern. It was their initiative to build the memorial and they should be commended for all they continue to do to commemorate the seven men from other nations, the 617 Squadron crew who died in their neighbourhood and who remain buried on German soil.

Pics: Volker Schürmann

Dambuster Crash Sites: a driver’s guide

Pic: Malcolm Peel

Text and pictures by Malcolm Peel.

On the evening of 16th May 1943, 133 aircrew in 19 Lancasters took off from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire to attack the dams east of the Ruhr. Eight aircraft and 53 men did not return. Three men survived their crashes and became Prisoners of War.

There are currently memorials at six of the crash sites with a seventh in the planning stage.

The following guide to these sites was compiled in July 2018 as an update to the excellent book written by Chris Ward and Andreas Wachtel, Dambuster Crash Sites, published in 2007 by Pen & Sword. Reference to this book is highly recommended for its historical content and descriptions of the discovery of the sites.

However, due to the ravages of time over 11 years, the construction or demolition of buildings, the changes in road layouts and other key landmarks, some of the Tour Guides in the book have become awkward to follow. Also, the book was published before the era of sat nav and Google Maps. For ease of navigation, the co-ordinates for all the sites (or the nearest vehicular access point) are given below.

If you are travelling from the UK, it is suggested that you travel to the dams first, joining the Corridor at the Möhne. To simplify its compilation, the following guide has been presented in that order. This route can also avoid using the very busy motorway network through the Ruhr around Essen, Duisburg and Dortmund.

Of the many books written about the raid, one of the best is James Holland’s Dambusters: The Race To Smash The Dams, Transworld Publishers 2012, which explains in a very readable format the reasons for the raid, the development of the bouncing bomb, the formation of 617 Squadron and the raid itself. There are also some excellent maps, diagrams and a complete Timeline of Operation Chastise.

Mention must also be made of Charles Foster’s very informative work, The Complete Dambusters: The 133 Men Who Flew on the Dams Raid, History Press 2018, which gives the story of each of the airmen who took part in the raid. A photo of each man is included as well as much information on the raid itself.

The Crash Corridor

Ward/Watchel describe in great detail how and why each aircraft crashed.

Hopgood at Soest was the only one to be shot down while attacking a dam – all the others were the victims of flak or a crash on the flight either to or from the dams. The only two not in the Corridor are shown with a cross on the above map – Byers in the sea off Texel, north of Den Helder and Burpee who crashed on the air base at Gilze-Reisen, between Breda and Tilburg.

The Dams
The co-ordinates for the three main dams are as follows:
Eder
51.184559
9.060715

Sorpe
51.353044
7.964041

Möhne
51.491659
8.061964

The Cemeteries
The casualties are buried in five cemeteries in Germany and Holland.

Rheinberg:
Hopgood and crew

Reichswald Forest:
Maudslay and crew
Astell and crew
Barlow and crew
Ottley and crew

Bergen-op-Zoom:
Burpee and crew

Bergen General Cemetery:
Young and crew

The grave of James McDowell, Byers’ rear gunner, is in Harlingen General Cemetery – the bodies of the rest of Byers’ crew were never recovered and they are remembered on the RAF Memorial at Runnymede.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website gives full details of all those killed and includes maps and co-ordinates for the cemeteries.

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Flt Lt J.V. Hopgood DFC & Bar
ED925 AJ-M
Near Soest, NW of Möhnesee
Co-ordinates (nearest vehicular access):

51.535638
7.999639

The most logical route to this site is from the dam. Turn right out of the car park and proceed towards Möhnesee, passing the Hotel Haus Delecke on your right.

At the roundabout, turn left onto the 229 and after about 2.0 miles, left onto the 516 towards Ense … it’s one of those weird junctions that takes you under the 516, turns left then right.

After 3.5 miles, turn right onto the L745 An Der Lanner towards Volbringen.

After passing through the village, you will come to a crossroads with a stone tower on the right … go straight on.

In less than a mile and just before a bridge under the motorway, turn right onto the track on the right … initially tarmac but that soon becomes stony.

The track drops down with a wood coming up your left but before the road rises again, look left … about 100 yards across the field, you’ll see the wooden post with a brass plaque.

This is the closest accessible point to the crash site which is probably where the motorway runs now.

Should you be travelling to this site via the A44 motorway and you’re going west towards Dortmund, leave at Exit 56 (Möhnesee) and turn left onto the 229. Follow until you reach the 516, turn right and continue as above.

However, if you’re heading east towards Kassel, Exit 55 (Werl-Sud & Ense). Turn right onto the 516 which will take you (via Ense) to the left turn onto the L745 … then as above.

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Plt Off W Ottley DFC
ED910 AJ-C
North of Hamm
Co-ordinates (nearest vehicular access):
51.724373
7.792254

This is one where you’ll need hiking boots or wellies!

Take the B63 north out of Hamm towards Munster and after crossing over the river Lippe, look out for the R.E.A.L. superstore on your left.

Straight on at the next roundabout … the one with the pink elephant wearing headphones (I kid you not!)

Through the traffic lights with MansfelderStr and the SENIORENZENTRUM ST JOSEPH on your right.

After about one mile, a signpost for Geinegge comes up on your left … which is both a street name and a village.

On your right is a house with the sign ISENBECK PILS on the front wall. SLOW DOWN.

Immediately after the house is a field with an electricity pylon at the far end.

The track to the crash site is at the far end of this field just before a line of trees and runs at right-angles to the main road. There is just enough room to park off the road.

Walk down the track passing the pylon on your right … it has a black and yellow sign carrying the number 1614. If it doesn’t, you are in the wrong field!

Carry on to the corner of the wood in front of you.

The track bends left and right around the corner of the wood – amongst the trunks of two trees on the left, there are the remains of a wooden structure of some description. Follow the line of the wood on your right for about 200 yards and the wooden cross is on your right in front of the crater created when the Upkeep exploded on impact.

The original memorial was situated in the crater which frequently becomes water-logged and the cross became rotten.

The bronze plaque (now barely legible) which was attached to the first cross is now fixed to the rear.

When this site was visited in July 2018, the area around the cross was very overgrown so before this photo was taken, time was spent clearing away some of the nettles, weeds and undergrowth. Unlike some other memorials to downed Dambuster crews, this one does not seem to be cared for by locals.

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Flt Lt W Astell DFC
ED864 AJ-B
North of Raesfeld
Co-ordinates (memorial site):
51.808419
6.868116

From the Castle in Raesfeld, take the Sudring and the B70 through the town and keeping on the 70, turning left at the roundabout north towards Borken with the Ford dealer, Autohaus Jacobs, on the left.

Across a second roundabout and after about 1.5 miles, straight on at the lights. About 100 yards further on, look for SIEPENWEG, a narrow tarmac road on the right.

After 200 yards, fork left – following Siepenweg.
After about ½ mile, fork right onto HESSEBREE.
Straight on at a crossroads and over a small bridge with a 9 ton weight limit.

1.8 miles later, turn right onto HUNGERWEG and the memorial is on your left.

If you stand with your back to the memorial, at 2 o’clock, you will see the pylon which some say finally brought down the Lancaster.

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Flt Lt R N G Barlow DFC RAAF
ED927 AJ-E
Haldern, near Rees
Co-ordinates (larger parking area):
51.796722
6.448845
Co-ordinates (memorial site):
51.79662
6.442784

Leave the town of Haldern with the church on your left; drive down BAHNHOFF STR and turn right just before the level crossing onto L459 HALDERN STR towards MILLINGEN.

After 1.0 mile, go straight on at the crossroads with HERKENER WEG and HEERENER WEG, where you will see a small shrine on the right.

After ½ mile, look for a small green signpost to HALDERNER STR 59 on the left, and immediately after, take the narrow tarmac road to your right.

If you reach a large, low cattleshed-type building on your left, turn around – you’ve missed the turn!

About 500 yards along this road, you see a cycle path on the left with a barrier blocking vehicular access – this marks the start of the field in which Barlow’s Lancaster crashed.

The memorial is near the wind turbine to the right of the trees but for now, carry straight on to another turbine and park.

The plane crashed somewhere between the base of this turbine and the small, stagnant pond in the little field on the other side of the wire fence.

Walk or drive back to the cycle path.
Go down the path until you reach a rectangular field with the above turbine at 3 o’clock.
Either walk diagonally across or around the field to the memorial at the foot of a tree in the corner.

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Sqn Ldr H E Maudslay DFC
ED937 AJ-Z
North east of Emmerich
Co-ordinates (memorial site):
51.8565
6.276442

From the A3 motorway, take Exit 3 A220 south towards Emmerich and Kleve.

At traffic lights, with the KusterOil filling station at 2 o’clock, turn left onto L16 WESELER STR

After about a mile, look out for the big orange OBI superstore and turn left at the roundabout.

Follow this road until it narrows and turn left onto BUDBERGER STR

Fork left onto FLASSERTWEG and follow this road until you come to a left-and-right bend in the road with a red and white barrier ahead.

Standing with the barrier on your left, Maudslay crashed in the field to your front.

There are ongoing plans to put a permanent memorial to the crew next to the barrier.

However at the end of June 2018, a mystery tribute appeared near the site which turned out to have been placed there by a Dutch pilot based in Scotland who had done some research on the crash.

This “unofficial” memorial can be found on the right, about halfway to the barrier.

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Plt Off L J Burpee DFM RCAF
ED865 AJ-S
On the former Luftwaffe night fighter station at Gilze-Reisen
Co-ordinates (entrance to airbase):
51.577043
4.926065

This memorial was dedicated in early 2018 and is situated on an active airbase operated by the Royal Dutch Air Force.

There are, as one can imagine, security implications in gaining access to the base and the best way to arrange a tour is to contact Ton Van Den Hoof at the museum, giving at least 14 days notice of an intended visit. Email Traditiekamer.GilzeRijen@mindef.nl

He will then be able to give an update on the entry procedure as application has been made to the base commander in an effort to simplify access.

A tour will also include a visit to the museum which although concentrating on the very interesting history of the airbase, has an excellent section containing Dambusters memorabilia.

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Sqn Ldr H M “Dinghy” Young DFC & Bar
ED887 AJ-A
In the sea off Castricum-aan-Zee, Strand
Co-ordinates (nearest vehicular access):
52.5574
4.610735

Castricum-aan-Zee is on the coast approx. 25 miles north west of Amsterdam.

Take the A9 north from Haarlem and turn left onto N203.

After approx. 3.5 miles, turn left onto N513 SEEWEG

This road only goes to the Strand, a very popular beach with two huge car parks.

This was taken on a Friday afternoon in June 2018 and the other car park was almost full. GO EARLY OR OFF-SEASON. Parking cost €7.50 but there’s no alternative, unless you have a Disabled Badge.

Walk past the cafes; the memorial is on the left at the start of the slope down towards the beach.

 

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Plt Off V W Byers RCAF
ED934 AJ-K
In the sea, off Texel/Vlieland
Co-ordinates (car park at northern tip of Texel island):
53.174453
4.867218

Texel is an island about 40 miles north of Alkmaar and is only accessible by ferry.

From the northern tip of the island, one can only look out to sea and envisage where the Lancaster crashed.

There is no memorial on land for the crew. Only one body was recovered, that of JAMES McDOWELL, the rear gunner. He was presumably thrown clear and the strong current took his body north. It was found floating in the Vliestrom Channel on 22 June 1943. It was brought ashore and he was buried in Harlingen General Cemetery.

The above guides were compiled in July 2018 and while every care has been taken to provide accurate information, responsibility cannot be accepted for changes in buildings or other structures, road layouts and signage, natural and other landmarks, or any other factors used to describe routes.

A quiet wood in Germany

IMG_6612Pic: Wim Govaerts

One year ago last weekend, a bronze plaque was unveiled on the edge of a quiet wood near the little town of Haldern in Germany. It is a memorial to the seven men in the crew of AJ-E, who took off from RAF Scampton on the Dams Raid on 16 May 1943, and who died at this spot when their aircraft collided with a power line and crashed.
The memorial was the initiative of Volker Schürmann and his colleagues in the Haldern local history society. Those of us who were present remember it with affection and gratitude, and look forward to continuing the friendships formed on that day for many more years to come.

May your bells ring out for Christmas Day

Lincoln_Cathedral_crop

Best wishes for the festive season to all the readers of this blog, wherever the boys in the NYPD Choir* are singing for you.
I have had a great year working on this blog, with two particular highlights. The first was travelling to Germany to take part in the unveiling of the memorial to the Dams Raid crew of AJ-E, in the company of relatives of six of the crew who died on that night. Thanks once again to Volker Schürmann and the rest of the local German community who instigated the memorial and made us so welcome. The second was the completion of the 133 Dambuster of the Day biographies in August, which I hope means that at last every single man who took part in the Dams Raid gets his own small place in history marked for ever.
I look forward to another year of providing a lot more Dambuster information. Have a very good Christmas and a happy New Year.
Charles

*And in memory of the late great Kirsty MacColl.

Memorial postcard has Möhne bonus

Einzm_MšhnetalsperreAnyone who donated to the successful appeal for a memorial to the Dams Raid crew of AJ-E should by now have received a souvenir postcard showing the plaque. These were dispatched over the last few weeks by our good friend Volker Schürmann, the appeal organiser. But if you look closely at the top right hand corner of the card, you will see a little bonus – a commemorative stamp produced by the German post office in 2013 to mark the centenary of the construction of the Möhne Dam. The eagle-eyed Volker purchased a stock of these at the time of their production and kept them aside specially for the cards, to add what he calls a little “British humour” to their publication. A nice gesture. Whether it adds any value to the card, we can’t say at present, but put yours away in your loft and let your grandchildren reap the benefit in 50 years time.

front kanndu entwurf lores

Dambuster Memorial unveiled as many pay tribute

IMG_6611Pic: Wim Govaerts

Several hundred people gathered on Sunday 17 May 2015 on the edge of a small wood in Haldern, north western Germany, to pay tribute to the crew of Dams Raid Lancaster AJ-E, piloted by Flt Lt Norman Barlow DFC. This was the spot where the aircraft crashed shortly before midnight on the night of 16 May 1943, en route to attack the Sorpe Dam.
Some of Norman Barlow’s letters home to his mother in Australia were read out during the ceremony. In one, written on 3 May 1943, he told her about the new aircraft he had been assigned for the Dams Raid. “I have just got a brand new machine. “E” for Edward or Elsie or Elliott. I hope I am as lucky as I was with “G” for George”.
And then, just 12 days later and the night before died, he sent love to everyone back at home, including his daughter, then four years old: “I must close now and have a bath and get a little shut eye whilst I can.  So keep your chin up Mother dear it can’t last forever. Your loving son Norman xxxx.”
Sadly, E-Edward would not turn out to be not a lucky machine for Norman and his crew, and they were all killed instantly in the crash. For seventy years, the site was not marked in any way, but then in 2013 local historian Volker Schürmann began a campaign to have a permanent memorial established. He organised a public appeal which succeded in raising the funds, after many generous donations from supporters from around the world. There were further donations of materials from the local community, and the farmer on whose land the aircraft crashed was kind enough to make a space available.
Relatives and representatives of five of the crew travelled to Germany, and unveiled the memorial. Wreathes were also laid by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force, by other organisations, and by the local community. A guard of honour was provided by the Haldern Fire Brigade, and musical tributes were played by the Haldern Brass Band.
Huge thanks go to all the people of Haldern who donated to and supported the memorial, and to all those who travelled to Germany to take part in the ceremony.

Pictures below by Wim Govaerts and Mitch Buiting.

IMG_6365 Banner depicting the crew of AJ-E. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)

IMG_6396Volker Schürmann being interviewed by British Forces Broadcasting Service reporter, Rob Olver.

IMG_6388Items from the wreckage of AJ-E, found locally by Marcel Hahn. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)

IMG_6462Welcome from Bernhard Uebbing, Chair of Heimatverein Haldern, the local history society. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)

IMG_6481Volker Schürmann outlined the background to the project. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)

IMG_6494Charles Foster gave a brief history of the Dams Raid and its historical significance. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)

IMG_6509Trish Murphy, a friend of Norman Barlow’s daughter Adrianne since their schooldays in Melbourne, read from Norman Barlow’s last letters home. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)

Rework_9274Rob Holliday, whose wife Sara is a cousin of bomb aimer Plt Off Alan Gillespie, gave an account of the lives of all the crew members of AJ-E. (Pic: Mitch Buiting)

IMG_6550The first wreath was laid by Group Captain Steve Richards of the RAF. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)

IMG_6553Lt Colonel David Sexstone and a colleague laid the second wreath on behalf of the Royal Canadian Air Force. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)

Rework_9289Wreath laid in memory of Norman Barlow by Trish Murphy, with assistance from Jacqui Kelly and Aisling Foster. (Pic: Mitch Buiting)

Rework_9293Wreathes laid in memory of Philip Burgess by Carole Marner, followed by Jenny Rowland. (Pic: Mitch Buiting)

Rework_9298Wreath laid in memory of Alan Gillespie by Sara and Rob Holliday (Pic: Mitch Buiting)

IMG_6558Wreath laid in memory of Charlie Williams by Helen Brown. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)

Rework_9306Wreath laid in memory of Jack Liddell by Patricia and Mike Gawtrey. (Pic: Mitch Buiting)

IMG_6471Music for the occasion was provided by the Haldern Brass Band. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)

IMG_6685A guard of honour was provided by the Haldern Fire Brigade. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)

IMG_6665The five sets of relatives and representatives, joined by Volker Schürmann and Charles Foster. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)

IMG_6678The full RAF and RCAF delegations, photographed after the ceremony. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)

IMG_6583AJ-E, honoured and remembered, 17 May 2015. (Pic: Wim Govaerts)