Anniversary events at the RAF Museum

The RAF Museum’s Lancaster. Events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Dams Raid will be held beneath its wings. [Pic: Geograph/Carlisle Kid]

The RAF Museum in Hendon, North London, has four free events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Dams Raid. The first two need prebooking.

The Legend of the Dambusters Raid
Wednesday 16 May, 2pm

Under the wings of the Lancaster in the main exhibition hall.
Free to attend
Billed as an insightful look at the Dambusters Raid from 1943 and the story of the most famous raid by Bomber Command in the Second World War.
Tickets can be reserved here.

A Legacy of a Dambuster
Thursday 17 May, 2pm

Under the wings of the Lancaster in the main exhibition hall.
Free to attend
The legacy of one Dambuster, John Hopgood, and how his family are building dams in Africa. This talk is in partnership with the WaterAid charity. The speaker is Jenny Elmes, niece of John Hopgood, and author of his biography, M-Mother.
Tickets can be reserved here.

Dambuilding and Dambusting!
Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 May, 11am – 3pm

Free activity, just drop in
Families can come and be inspired by the legacy of the Dambuster John Hopgood and build sand dams. Artists Silvia Krupinska and Danny Saul are making an interactive art installation that visitors will be able to build and engage with. There will be multiple layers, textures and sounds for families to experience. This activity has been commissioned by the WaterAid charity, in partnership with the RAF Museum.

Lancaster Flypast
Saturday 19 May, 5.30pm
The BBMF Lancaster will fly over the Museum. This will be one of the few opportunities in the London area to see it, so arrive early and have your cameras at the ready. Please be aware that flypasts are subject to suitable weather conditions both at the museum and at its take-off site.

The Dams Raid: a historical perspective

Digging about on the RAF Museum website, as one does, I came across what seems like a very interesting resource, the online version of the Journal of the RAF Historical Society. The society was established in 1986 and runs two or three seminars every year devoted to the whole range of RAF history. It also publishes a journal, and the first 36 numbers of these are all available online. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be either an index or a full list of contents, so I haven’t yet explored every single issue. However, I can say that issue no. 34 could be useful to anyone with an interest in the Dams Raid, as it contains a 26 page article by Wg Cdr T M Webster entitled ‘The Dam Busters Raid – Success or Sideshow?’
This is an interesting, factual account which starts well before the war, and the involvement of Barnes Wallis. Based largely on the book by John Sweetman, it deals with the identification of the Ruhr dams as important industrial targets and the various ideas which were developed for attacking them. Then it follows through the chronology of the planning, the raid itself and its aftermath.
The conclusion? Perhaps not surprisingly, it is that:

allying this precision [the accuracy of the bombing] to the dramatic post-raid reconnaissance photographs, the undoubted bravery of the crews involved and a pre-determination to use the raid for propaganda purposes it is hardly surprising that the Dams Raid remains the RAF’s most famous single operation and No 617 its most famous squadron.
All in all, the Dams Raid was an all-round success and not a slideshow.

You can download the whole (8MB) PDF here.

Barnes Wallis in Hendon

Photo by mickb6265

It’s a long time since I’ve had a proper look around the RAF Museum in Hendon, North London. On my last visit I was in a rush to get to the research library upstairs. So I’ve missed the fact that there is a re-creation of Barnes Wallis’s office in the exhibition hall, complete with his real drawing board and other paraphernalia. From this picture it looks as though the famous photograph of the Möhne lake after the dam was broken is hanging in the corner. Wallis brought this to the party in the Hungaria restaurant after the Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony, where it was signed by most of the surviving aircrew who took part in the raid.

Full set of mickb’s pictures are here on Flickr.