The Dam Busters: an almost complete picture

BBC pictureboard

Greig Watson and his colleagues at BBC online have been slaving away for the last few weeks trying to get a complete pictureboard of all 133 aircrew who took part in the Dams Raid.
Believe it or not, a display of this type has never been published before, and they deserve huge credit just for taking on the work.
However there are a few gaps, and the Beeb is very keen to find a relative somewhere who can help find a picture of the missing aircrew. All of them are British, so there should be a good chance that together we can complete the jigsaw.
Here are the missing photos:
David Horsfall (Now found!)
John Marriott (Now found!)
Michael Fuller (Now found!)
John Kinnear (Now found!)
Alan Gillespie (Now found!)
Robert Marsden (Now found!)
Jack Barrett (Now found!)
Thomas Johnston (Now found!)
Harry Strange (Now found!)
Daniel Allatson (Now found!
Dennis Powell (Now found!)
Norman Burrows (Now found!)

If you are related to any of these men, or know of a source for a picture of them, please let me know (leave a comment below or send me a private email) , or log onto the BBC site and send them the details.

(I can claim a modest part in this work, having helped the BBC with some of the picture research.)

The Dams Raid: complete list of all participants

Grantham 0003 fly order small

During the next nineteen weeks I will be publishing an article about each one of the 133 aircrew from 617 Squadron who took part in the Dams Raid (Operation Chastise) on 16/17 May 1943, at the rate of one a day. These will be titled ‘Dambuster of the Day’.

Above is shown the order for the operation as it appeared on squadron noticeboards on the morning of the raid. For security reasons it was merely titled ‘Night Flying Programme’. The typed programme was kept by Squadron Adjutant Flt Lt Harry Humphries, and is now in the possession of Lincolnshire Libraries.

Each article will include links to other material online about each man, and I hope that readers will add further links in the comments on each piece. In that way, the blog entries will serve as a tribute to all the people who took part, in this the 70th anniversary year.

A complete list of the 133 also appears below.

The names appear in the order of the three designated ‘waves’: the first tasked to attack the Möhne and Eder dams, the second to attack the Sorpe, and the third the mobile reserve. Each aircraft in the wave is then listed in the order it finally took off, which differs slightly from the list in the programme above.

As each article appears, the list below will be edited to provide a link to the relevant blog entry.

AJ-G
First wave: First aircraft to attack Möhne Dam. Mine exploded short of the dam.
Wg Cdr G P Gibson DSO & Bar DFC & Bar Pilot
Sgt J Pulford Flight engineer
Plt Off H T Taerum Navigator
Flt Lt R E G Hutchison DFC Wireless operator
Plt Off F M Spafford DFM Bomb aimer
Flt Sgt G A Deering Front gunner
Flt Lt R D Trevor-Roper DFM Rear gunner

AJ-M
First wave: Second aircraft to attack Möhne Dam. Aircraft hit by flak. Mine dropped late, bounced over dam. Aircraft crashed on far side of dam.
Flt Lt J V Hopgood DFC & Bar Pilot
Sgt C Brennan Flight engineer
Flg Off K Earnshaw Navigator
Sgt J W Minchin Wireless operator
Flt Sgt J W Fraser Bomb aimer
Plt Off G H F G Gregory DFM Front gunner
Plt Off A F Burcher DFM Rear gunner

AJ-P
First wave: Third aircraft to attack Möhne Dam. Mine veered left after dropping and exploded at side of dam.
Flt Lt H B Martin DFC Pilot
Plt Off I Whittaker Flight engineer
Flt Lt J F Leggo DFC Navigator
Flg Off L Chambers Wireless operator
Flt Lt R C Hay DFC Bomb aimer
Plt Off B T Foxlee DFM Front gunner
Flt Sgt T D Simpson Rear gunner

AJ-A
First wave: Fourth aircraft to attack Möhne Dam. Mine dropped accurately, causing small breach. Aircraft crashed on return flight.
Sqn Ldr H M Young DFC & Bar Pilot
Sgt D T Horsfall Flight engineer
Flt Sgt C W Roberts Navigator
Sgt L W Nichols Wireless operator
Flg Off V S MacCausland Bomb aimer
Sgt G A Yeo Front gunner
Sgt W Ibbotson Rear gunner

AJ-J
First wave: Fifth aircraft to attack Möhne Dam. Mine dropped accurately, causing larger breach, followed by dam collapse.
Flt Lt D J H Maltby DFC Pilot
Sgt W Hatton Flight engineer
Sgt V Nicholson Navigator
Sgt A J B Stone Wireless operator
Plt Off J Fort Bomb aimer
Sgt V Hill Front gunner
Sgt H T Simmonds Rear gunner

AJ-L
First wave: First aircraft to attack Eder Dam. Mine dropped accurately but no breach caused.
Flt Lt D J Shannon DFC Pilot
Sgt R J Henderson Flight engineer
Flg Off D R Walker DFC Navigator
Flg Off B Goodale DFC Wireless operator
Flt Sgt L J Sumpter Bomb aimer
Sgt B Jagger Front gunner
Flg Off J Buckley Rear gunner

AJ-Z
First wave. Second aircraft to attack Eder Dam. Mine overshot. Aircraft damaged, and shot down on return flight.
Sqn Ldr H E Maudslay DFC Pilot
Sgt J Marriott DFM Flight engineer
Flg Off R A Urquhart DFC Navigator
WO A P Cottam Wireless operator
Plt Off M J D Fuller Bomb aimer
Flg Off W J Tytherleigh DFC Front gunner
Sgt N R Burrows Rear gunner

AJ-B
First wave. Crashed on outward flight.
Flt Lt W Astell DFC Pilot
Sgt J Kinnear Flight engineer
Plt Off F A Wile Navigator
WO A A Garshowitz Wireless operator
Flg Off D Hopkinson Bomb aimer
Flt Sgt F A Garbas Front gunner
Sgt R Bolitho Rear gunner

AJ-N
First wave. Third aircraft to attack Eder Dam. Mine dropped accurately causing breach.
Plt Off L G Knight Pilot
Sgt R E Grayston Flight engineer
Flg Off H S Hobday Navigator
Flt Sgt R G T Kellow Wireless operator
Flg Off E C Johnson Bomb aimer
Sgt F E Sutherland Front gunner
Sgt H E O’Brien Rear gunner

AJ-E
Second wave. Crashed on outward flight.
Flt Lt R N G Barlow DFC Pilot
Plt Off S L Whillis Flight engineer
Flg Off P S Burgess Navigator
Flg Off C R Williams DFC Wireless operator
Plt Off A Gillespie Bomb aimer
Flg Off H S Glinz Front gunner
Sgt J R G Liddell Rear gunner

AJ-W
Second wave. Aircraft badly damaged by flak on outward flight. Returned to base with mine intact.
Flt Lt J L Munro Pilot
Sgt F E Appleby Flight engineer
Flg Off F G Rumbles Navigator
WO P E Pigeon Wireless operator
Sgt J H Clay Bomb aimer
Sgt W Howarth Front gunner
Flt Sgt H A Weeks Rear gunner

AJ-K
Second wave. Crashed on outward flight.
Plt Off V W Byers Pilot
Sgt A J Taylor Flight engineer
Flg Off J H Warner Navigator
Sgt J Wilkinson Wireless operator
Plt Off A N Whittaker Bomb aimer
Sgt C McA Jarvie Front gunner
Flt Sgt J McDowell Rear gunner

AJ-H
Second wave. Aircraft badly damaged and mine lost, flying low over sea on outward flight. Returned to base.
Plt Off G Rice Pilot
Sgt E C Smith Flight engineer
Flg Off R MacFarlane Navigator
WO C B Gowrie Wireless operator
WO J W Thrasher Bomb aimer
Sgt T W Maynard Front gunner
Sgt S Burns Rear gunner

AJ-T
Second wave. First aircraft to attack Sorpe Dam. Mine dropped successfully but failed to breach dam.
Flt Lt J C McCarthy DFC Pilot
Sgt W G Radcliffe Flight engineer
Flt Sgt D A MacLean Navigator
Flt Sgt L Eaton Wireless operator
Sgt G L Johnson Bomb aimer
Sgt R Batson Front gunner
Flg Off D Rodger Rear gunner

AJ-C
Third wave. Crashed on outward flight.
Plt Off W H T Ottley DFC Pilot
Sgt R Marsden Flight engineer
Flg Off J K Barrett DFC Navigator
Sgt J Guterman DFM Wireless operator
Flt Sgt T B Johnston Bomb aimer
Sgt H J Strange Front gunner
Sgt F Tees Rear gunner

AJ-S
Third wave. Crashed on outward flight.
Plt Off L J Burpee DFM Pilot
Sgt G Pegler Flight engineer
Sgt T Jaye Navigator
Plt Off L G Weller Wireless operator
Flt Sgt J L Arthur Bomb aimer
Sgt W C A Long Front gunner
WO J G Brady Rear gunner

AJ-F
Third wave. Second aircraft to attack Sorpe Dam. Mine dropped successfully but failed to breach dam.
Flt Sgt K W Brown Pilot
Sgt H B Feneron Flight engineer
Sgt D P Heal Navigator
Sgt H J Hewstone Wireless operator
Sgt S Oancia Bomb aimer
Sgt D Allatson Front gunner
Flt Sgt G S McDonald Rear gunner

AJ-O
Third wave. Only aircraft to attack Ennepe Dam. Mine dropped successfully but failed to breach dam.
Flt W C Townsend DFM Pilot
Sgt D J D Powell Flight engineer
Plt Off C L Howard Navigator
Flt Sgt G A Chalmers Wireless operator
Sgt C E Franklin DFM Bomb aimer
Sgt D E Webb Front gunner
Sgt R Wilkinson Rear gunner

AJ-Y
Third wave. Did not reach Sorpe Dam because of navigation problems and weather conditions. Returned with mine intact.
Flt Sgt C T Anderson Pilot
Sgt R C Paterson Flight engineer
Sgt J P Nugent Navigator
Sgt W D Bickle Wireless operator
Sgt G J Green Bomb aimer
Sgt E Ewan Front gunner
Sgt A W Buck Rear gunner

All smiles at Avro

Sometime in late 1943 or early 1944, a number of 617 Squadron aircrew flew up to the Avro works near Manchester. A historic picture taken in the boardroom has recently come to light.

All of the 617 Squadron personnel were in Mick Martin and Joe McCarthy’s Dams Raid crews. They have been identified by Alex Bateman in a post on the RAF Commands forum. Only some of the Avro staff have been identified, including the fitter, Mr Hickson, whose son inherited the photograph. It looks as though the fitters involved were not given much notice as they all appear to be in their working clothes.

Left to right: John Fielding (Avro research manager), Tammy Simpson, Toby Foxlee, Don MacLean, Dave Rodger, Teddy Fielding (Avro production director), (unknown Avro worker), Bill Radcliffe, Joe McCarthy, Mr Hickson (Avro fitter), Ivan Whittaker, (unknown Avro worker), (unknown Avro worker), Mick Martin and (unknown Avro worker). The two Fieldings at Avro were unrelated.

Please get in touch if you can identify any of the unknown Avro personnel.

Photo credit: Ken Hickson via Peter Cunliffe, author A Shaky Do – The Skoda works raid 16/17th April 1943

The race to smash the German dams

James Holland’s film, shown on BBC2 last Tuesday night, is available for UK viewers to watch again on iPlayer until Saturday 19 November. Follow this link.

So far, I can’t find any reviews posted online, but I have come across an interesting preview article in the New Statesman in which Guy Walters argues that Holland completely counters the “revisionist” view that the Dams Raid actually achieved very little. According to Walters:

The raid was in fact a triumph, and did an enormous amount of damage. After studying the German archives, Holland shows that: “…not only were two major dams completely destroyed, so too were seven railway bridges, eighteen road bridges, four water turbine power stations and three steam turbine power stations, while in the Ruhr Valley alone, eleven factories were completely destroyed and a further 114 damaged, many severely. Vast tracts of land had also been devastated by the tidal waves that had thundered up to eighty miles from the dams.”
Such damage can hardly be considered “little of substance”.
Furthermore, Holland completely skewers the argument that as the dams were quickly rebuilt, the damage was therefore not that great. The whole point of their swift reconstruction “underlines just how important they were to Germany”, and the men and material required had to be diverted from elsewhere.
Holland also argues that the destruction of the dams struck a huge psychological blow against the Germans, as these were structures that were venerated as triumphs of the country’s might and technical knowhow. In short, the raid was indeed a catastrophe for Nazi Germany, and a triumph for the British.
Holland’s analysis will no doubt draw its detractors, perhaps inspired by a politically fashionable thinking that seeks to denigrate just about every British success during the Second World War. Of course, there was much that we got wrong, but we also got many things spectacularly right.

In my view, Holland’s programme was a well researched and presented documentary. There were interviews with three of the four surviving Dambusters – Les Munro, Grant McDonald and George “Johnny” Johnson – and a good use of far flung written source material, such as Charlie Williams’ letters, which are in archives in Queensland, Australia.

Perhaps the point that came across most strongly was the airmanship involved. Flying a 30 ton aircraft a thousand miles through hostile territory just 100 feet above the ground required enormous concentration, exceptional skill and tremendous luck. When you consider the odds it is no real surprise that eight of the 19 aircraft failed to return. And no surprise, either, that this tactic was only used sparingly in the rest of the war.

With so much already written and broadcast about the Dams Raid it is not surprising that little new information emerged. But that shouldn’t detract from what was a thorough film, mercifully lacking most of the frills and tricks which many documentary directors nowadays feel it necessary to add. Catch it again on iPlayer while it is still available!

Dambuster mothers in 1955

I mentioned in an earlier post the Pathé newsreel shot at the premiere of The Dam Busters in 1955. Four middle-aged women are shown being presented to Princess Margaret, and are identified only as the mothers of four aircrew who died on the Dams Raid. I’ve now done a screengrab of each of these, in the hope that someone out there may be able to identify a grandmother or great aunt.

Please get in touch if you recognise any of these.

Great turnout for Kent Dambuster salute

Crowds at the graveside of Sqn Ldr David Maltby. Photo: Ady Kerry

The country’s only flying Lancaster couldn’t make an appearance, but a couple of hundred people were not deterred, and made Saturday’s tribute to the crew of Dams Raid Lancaster AJ-J in Wickhambreaux, Kent, a very special occasion.

The village churchyard contains the grave of pilot David Maltby, whose body was the only one recovered from the North Sea when the aircraft he was flying crashed on 15 September 1943. Every year, local people gather to commemorate David and the rest of his crew, who have no known grave. This year, we were privileged to be joined by representatives of the families of three of other crew members, John Fort (bomb aimer), William Hatton (flight engineer) and Victor Hill (front gunner).

As well as the graveside tribute, a small exhibition took place in the Village Hall, which was opened by the Sheriff of Canterbury, Cllr Hazel McCabe.

Obviously, people were disappointed that the Lancaster was prevented from flying by high winds (foreshadowing Monday’s gales in the wake of Hurricane Katia) but that did not prevent a very impressive turnout, and a poignant and moving service, led by the Vicar, the Revd Chris Wilkinson.

Many thanks to all who came, and to Revd Chris Wilkinson, the Wickhambreaux Parish Council, the Village Hall Committee, the Sheriff of Canterbury and the Rose Inn for their help.

Peter Fort, great nephew of Flg Off John Fort, his two daughters, and Rene Hopkins, sister of Sgt William Hatton.

Valerie Ashton, daughter of Flt Sgt Victor Hill.

George Foster, nephew of Sqn Ldr David Maltby. Photo: Ady Kerry

The Vicar of Littlebourne, Revd Chris Wilkinson, conducting the graveside tribute. Photo: Ady Kerry

Charles Foster, nephew of Sqn Ldr David Maltby. Photo: Ady Kerry

Read all about it, North American style

My friend Dominic Howard sent me these pictures a while back and I have been so busy I forgot to post them on the blog! Better late than never, so here they are. They are original editions of the Winnipeg Free Press and Baltimore News-Post newspapers from May 1943, containing the first reports of the Dams Raid. You can see high resolution scans of both newspapers in Dom’s Photobucket pages — here for Winnipeg and here for Baltimore.

Dom is the great nephew of Cyril Anderson, the pilot of AJ-Y on the Dams Raid. Cyril had been transferred from 49 Squadron to 617 Squadron on 25 March, along with his crew. On the raid, his aircraft AJ-Y was part of the third wave, the mobile reserve, and was eventually dispatched to the Sorpe Dam. He encountered heavy flak en route and had a problem with a malfunctioning rear gun. So at 0310, with dawn approaching and the valleys filling with mist, he turned back while still short of the target. He landed at Scampton at 0530, with his mine still on board.

Guy Gibson was not pleased with the fact that he had returned without dropping the mine and, taking no notice of the other extenuating circumstances, sent Cyril and his crew back to 49 Squadron.  Many researchers now feel that Gibson was unfair on Cyril, and that he was poorly treated by being removed from 617 Squadron.

Cyril and his crew completed another 15 operations in 49 Squadron until on a raid on Mannheim on 23/24 September 1943 they were shot down by a German night fighter and killed. The night fighter pilot was Lt Heinz Grimm, who was himself killed a few weeks later.

Dominic has an account of this final operation to Mannheim, and his trip to Germany to investigate the crash on his website, www.lancasterbombers.com

Hello, good evening and welcome

If this is your first visit to the only Dambusters blog on the interwebnet, you are very welcome. You may well have arrived here after watching the Channel 4 documentary on Monday 2 May, in which modern engineers rebuilt a working ‘bouncing bomb’. This was previewed in various articles, one of which you can see here from the Daily Telegraph.
This blog tries to keep people up to date with Dambusters news from around the world. And because WordPress tells me the search questions which people have asked to arrive at the blog I know that there are two subjects which are likely to be uppermost in your mind.

1. What is happening to the remake of The Dam Busters?
Back in 2006 the producer Peter Jackson announced that he was to remake the classic 1955 film, The Dam Busters. A director, Christian Rivers, was assigned to the project, and a script was commissioned from British national treasure Stephen Fry. Jackson and several other sources have said several times that the project is still ongoing. The script is finished, at least one full size model Lancaster has been built, and test filming has been undertaken. But the Jackson team, based in his native New Zealand, are currently preoccupied with several other projects, notably The Hobbit, and it is now quite obvious that The Dam Busters is lower down the schedule than they have let on.

Lancaster full size model, shown to the press in July 2009

2. How many of the original Dam Busters are still alive?
I am happy to report that four of the aircrew who took part in the raid in May 1943 are alive and well. One, Grant MacDonald, who lives in Vancouver, Canada, visited the Windfall Films/Channel 4 team while they were making the documentary last October. He was the rear gunner in Ken Brown’s crew in AJ-F. Also living in Canada is Fred Sutherland, front gunner in the crew which dropped the bomb which broke the Eder Dam, Les Knight’s AJ-N. The only pilot still with us is Les Munro, who captained AJ-W on the raid. He lives in his native New Zealand, and has been reported as being involved in the Jackson remake project as a technical advisor. And finally, of course, there is George (“Johnny”) Johnson, bomb aimer in Joe McCarthy’s AJ-T, who lives in Devon and who was interviewed for the C4 documentary..

My own involvement in the Dambusters story is that my uncle, David Maltby, was the pilot of AJ-J on the raid, and dropped the fifth ‘bouncing bomb’ which made the final breach in the Möhne Dam. He and his entire crew were killed four months later, returning from an aborted attack on the Dortmund Ems Canal. David is buried in St Andrew’s Church in Wickhambreaux, Kent. You can read more about David and his crew on my other website, or in my book, Breaking the Dams, which was published in May 2008.

Flog It flayed by Dambuster son

Flg Off Brian Goodale was the wireless operator in David Shannon’s crew on the Dams Raid. As were most of Shannon’s crew, he was a bit older and more experienced than his pilot, and already had a DFC for completing a tour of operations. He had an unusual nickname, which is explained the first time he appears in Paul Brickhill’s 1951 book, The Dam Busters: ‘Brian Goodale, the wireless op, was so tall and thin and bent he was known universally as “Concave”.’ (p.80).

He makes other appearances in the book, most notably as the victim of a debagging prank in the train to London, the day before the 33 aircrew decorated for the Dams Raid received their awards at Buckingham Palace. To preserve his modesty in the presence of several WAAF officers, the partially dressed Goodale was shut in a train lavatory while the adjutant Harry Humphries persuaded the men playing cards in another compartment to return his trousers.

Brian Goodale stayed on in the RAF after the war, rising to the rank of Squadron Leader. He was a frequent attender of 617 Squadron reunions, and his copy of The Dam Busters became a treasured possession, containing the autographs of many of his erstwhile comrades.

When he left the RAF in 1961, he worked first for Plessey. In the late 1960s he became sales manager of the aircraft and armaments manufacturer, Short Brothers and Harland, who were based in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. This necessitated a family move to this small town, 10 miles from Belfast at the top of the picturesque Strangford Lough.

Before this move took place, Brian Goodale stayed at a small hotel in the town called the Devonshire Arms. At some point in this stay, he lent his signed copy of The Dam Busters to the landlord. As his son, Simon Goodale, says: ‘My father was always lending the book to people who were interested in it, but up till then they always gave it back.’

The Goodale family – Brian, his wife and their two teenage boys – settled into a house in the town and Simon went to a local school. According to Simon, when his father went back to the hotel to look for his book: ‘The landlord at first said that he had lent it to somebody else and then said that he had lost it.’ He went back several more times in the years that followed, but each time the landlord told him the same story.

Years passed. The Goodales moved back to England, after five years living in Newtownards, and then in 1977 Brian Goodale died of cancer aged just 57. Simon assumed that the book was lost and never thought about it until one day recently a colleague told him that he had seen a TV programme about his father. He dismissed this information at first, thinking that he was talking about a rerun of The Dam Busters film, or something similar, but the colleague persisted, telling him that his father was mentioned by name.

The programme turned out to be a repeat of an episode of the auction-based series ‘Flog It’ where BBC experts ‘invite the public to have their ‘antiques and family heirlooms valued for free at one of our valuation days. If you’re interested in selling them, our experts will consider putting them into auction and flogging them for you. You could end up on television and with a tidy sum in your pocket.’

On this particular episode a woman called Vanessa Farnham turned up with the ‘lost’ signed copy of The Dam Busters, and told the interviewer that she had known ‘Concave’ Goodale when he had stayed at her parents’ hotel in Northern Ireland. He had left the book behind, she said, when he went off without paying his bill. She had had the book for sometime, but had now decided to sell it. The experts advised her that it was certainly worth several hundred pounds.

The book duly went for auction in September last year, as I noted on this blog at the time. Vanessa Farnham had contacted the blog to tell us about the auction, saying that the book ‘was owned by Brian Goodale’. She wrote again after the auction saying the book had sold for £900, less commission. She was sad to see it go, she said, because she had just got to know it. ‘However,’ she added ‘our little story of Concave is now “out there” ’.

When Simon Goodale saw the repeat of the programme, he was greatly concerned that his father was portrayed as someone down on his luck who had left a hotel bill unpaid. He points out that the family lived in Newtownards for five years, and that Brian Goodale had an important job with a well known local firm. The local press had carried several articles about him, so the idea that he could not be traced about an unpaid bill was absurd. He also knew that his father had been annoyed that his book, which he had lent to the landlord in good faith, had apparently been mislaid.

Simon has now persuaded the BBC to remove the Flog It episode from the iPlayer facility and is seeking an apology from the newspapers which ran a similar story about his father. However, he accepts that he is unlikely to get the book back, since it was bought in good faith by a collector in Deal.

UPDATE, 5 April 2011: I informed Vanessa Farnham that I was publishing this story, and she sent me the following comments: ‘This is obviously a difficult situation as it is one person’s version of events against another’s… I was about 17 when Brian Goodale stayed in our Hotel and have a distinct memory of him. As I said in the programme he was a very “special chap”. I remember he was returning to collect his family to return to N. Ireland. However he did leave and did not take his belongings nor did he settle his bill. I clearly remember standing in his room thinking how strange as I had really liked him and I remember thinking how big his shoes were as I packed his stuff… We never saw Brian again! the book stayed on the bookshelves of our subsequent hotels and certainly wasn’t “mislaid” and has a stamp from the Gull Cottage Hotel clearly visible in the front cover. So anyone could have taken it over the years. My Dad was not a literary man, nor a war hero, but he was a well known and respected Businessman in Newtownards, he was President of the local Rugby Club and a member of the Lions Club, the book was never secreted. The fact that Brian returned “again and again” is not as I remember it as I was fond of him and would have recalled this.It was no way implied that Brian was down on his luck, just that it was a Mystery. I am very sad that this has happened.’

FURTHER UPDATE, 7 April 2011: In her earlier email, Mrs Farnham also informed me that her brother is the same age as Simon Goodale, and was in the same form at school.
Simon Goodale has written to me again, commenting on her statement. He says: “As I have stated before there is no reason why my father would have not paid the bill — he was a well paid businessman and if the story was really true why didn’t Mrs Farnham’s father alert the police? After all it was during the troubles and my father was in the armoured car business. Aren’t landlords supposed to alert the police if somebody goes missing from a hotel? The last time my father stayed in the hotel was when I and my mother stayed there while waiting for our furniture to arrive from England, not as she is saying. I do recall Mrs Farnham’s brother being at the same school, but surely this just supports my side of things that my dad did not disappear, and he was known to be in Newtownards. Nobody in their right mind would have left this very personal book behind, it just doesn’t add up and simply would not, and did not, happen in the way Mrs Farnham says.”
Mrs Farnham’s comment in the earlier update would indicate that the so-called “unpaid bill” incident refers to the time that Brian Goodale stayed on his own in the hotel, before his family came over to Newtownards from England. However, as Simon says, his mother and father and himself all stayed there again some time later, when they had moved over to Northern Ireland, but were waiting for the furniture to arrive.
Mrs Farnham has no explanation as to what happened to the book while the Goodale family were in the hotel on a second visit. Nor can she say why her father failed to contact Mr Goodale about his uncollected belongings, when he must have known he was working for one of the town’s big employers.
This story has caused great distress to the Goodale family, and an apology for this would seem to be the least that should be offered.

Guilty as charged!

Well, I might as well admit it. I noticed a posting over on the RAF Commands forum about some confusion over the number of the Lancaster flown by Sqn Ldr Melvin Young on the Dams Raid. The writer asked why it was numbered ED877 when he thought this was the aircraft from 156 Squadron in which his uncle was killed when it was shot down on 5 May 1943.
He was soon advised of the correct information – Young’s aircraft was in fact number ED887/G. As the original poster noted, a glance at Google shows that there are many hundreds of references to the wrong number all over the interwebnet – and many of them are down to me.


Oh dear. I had better confess to the mistake.  All I can say in my defence is that I took the number from the list in John Sweetman’s magisterial book, The Dams Raid. Other authors have made the same mistake, I notice. I shan’t name them, but I will note that the earliest source I could have consulted, Bruce Robertson’s Lancaster – the Story of a Famous Bomber, is of course correct. And so is the list in Alex Bateman’s No 617 Squadron (Osprey, 2009) – although you would expect nothing less from such a meticulous researcher as Alex.