The five members of the crew of AJ-P who were awarded honours for the Dams Raid pose outside Buckingham Palace. L-R: Len Chambers, Bob Hay, Mick Martin, Tom Simpson and Jack Leggo. [Pic: Australian War Memorial]
Flg Off L Chambers
Lancaster serial number: ED909/G
Call sign: AJ-P
First wave. Third aircraft to attack Möhne Dam. Mine veered left after dropping and exploded at side of dam.
Len Chambers was born in Karamea, New Zealand on 18 February 1919. He joined the RNZAF in September 1940. After qualifying as a wireless operator/air gunner, he arrived in England where he was posted to a training unit and then 460 Squadron, an RAAF squadron. He flew on twenty operations there, before being transferred to 75 (NZ) Squadron, where he flew a further thirty-seven operations and became the Squadron Signals Leader.
When Mick Martin joined 617 Squadron he brought most of his old 50 Squadron crew with him, but was short of a wireless operator, so Chambers was brought in. He was awarded a DFC for his part in the raid.
After the raid, he flew on six further sorties before leaving 617 Squadron at the same time as Jack Leggo, in order to qualify as a pilot. However, he did not, apparently, ever fly on any operations in this role.
He returned to New Zealand in November 1944, and left the RNZAF in 1945. After the war, he worked as a carpenter and builder. He died in his native Karamea on 1 March 1985.
[Hat tips: Dave Homewood and Kevin Smith]
Biography of Len Chambers from the programme for the New Zealand premiere of The Dam Busters, 1955. [Pic: Chambers family]
Collage of photos from a family album. [Pic: Chambers family]
At the New Zealand premiere of The Dam Busters, 1955. L-R: Len Chambers, Lil Chambers, Betty Munro, Les Munro. [Pic: Chambers family]
Survived war. Died 1985.
Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Sources: Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002
Chris Ward, Andy Lee, Andreas Wachtel, Dambusters: Definitive History, Red Kite 2003
The information above has been taken from the books and online sources listed and other online material. Apologies for any errors or omissions. Please add any corrections or links to further information in the comments section below.
Further information about Len Chambers and the other 132 men who flew on the Dams Raid can be found in my book The Complete Dambusters, published by History Press in 2018.