Αρχική > Ένοπλες Δυνάμεις, Διεθνή - Γεοπολιτικά, Ιστορικά, Οπλικά συστήματα > All the Dambusters heroes: Photographs of the 113 men who took part in the daring WWII raid pictured together for the first time

All the Dambusters heroes: Photographs of the 113 men who took part in the daring WWII raid pictured together for the first time

 

Photographs of all of the men who took part in the Dambusters raid have been published for the first time. The operation, on 17 May, 1943, saw RAF bombers break two large dams in Nazi Germany using ‘bouncing bombs’. The pictures have been compiled by the BBC. In total, 133 men flew on the mission in 19 planes. Eight aircraft were lost, 53 men died and three were captured.

All of the 113 men who took part in the 'Dambusters' raid of 1943 pictured together for the very first time

Heroes: All of the 113 men who took part in the ‘Dambusters’ raid of 1943 pictured together for the very first time

TOP ROW (Left to right)

Crew of AJ-G: Guy Gibson, GB Pilot, Commanding Officer; Torger Taerum, CAN Navigator; John Pulford, GB Flight Engineer; Frederick Spafford, AUS Bomb Aimer; Robert Hutchison, GB Wireless Operator; Andrew Deering, CAN Front Gunner; Richard Trevor-Roper, GB Rear Gunner.

Crew of AJ-M: John Hopgood,GB Pilot; Ken Earnshaw, CAN Navigator; James Fraser, CAN Bomb Aimer;  Charles Brennan, GB Flight Engineer; John Minchin, GB Wireless Operator; George Gregory, GB Front Gunner; Anthony Burcher, AUS Rear Gunner.

SECOND ROW

Crew of AJ-P: Harold Martin, AUS Pilot; Jack Leggo, AUS Navigator; Robert Hay, AUS Bomb Aimer; Ivan Whittaker, GB Flight Engineer;  Leonard Chambers, NZ Wireless Operator; Bertie Towner Foxlee, AUS Front Gunner; Thomas Simpson, AUS Rear Gunner.

Crew of AJ-A: Henry Young, GB Pilot; Charles Roberts, GB Navigator;  Vincent MacCausland, CAN Bomb Aimer; David Horsfall, GB Flight  Engineer; Lawrence Nichols, GB Wireless Operator; Gordon Yeo, GB Front Gunner; Wilfred Ibbotson, GB

Crew of AJ-J:David Maltby, GB Pilot; Vivian Nicholson, GB Navigator; John Fort, GB Bomb Aimer.

THIRD ROW

Crew of AJ-J (cont): William Hatton, GB Flight Engineer; Anthony Stone, GB Wireless Operator; Victor Hill, GB Front Gunner; Harold Simmonds, GB Rear Gunner.

Crew of AJ-L: David Shannon, AUS Pilot; Robert Henderson, GB Flight Engineer; Daniel Walker, CAN Navigator; Brian Goodale, GB Wireless Operator; Leonard Sumpter, GB Bomb Aimer; Brian Jagger, GB Front Gunner; Jack Buckley, GB Rear Gunner.

Crew of AJ-Z: Henry Maudslay, GB Pilot; John Marriott, GB Flight  Engineer; Robert Urquhart, CAN Navigator; Alan Cottam, CAN Wireless Operator; Michael Fuller, GB Bomb Aimer; William Tytherleigh, GB Front Gunner.

A Lancaster bomber, of the type used in the raid flies above the Ladybower reservoir Derbyshire during a commemoration exercise in 1988

Weapon of choice: A Lancaster bomber, of the type used in the raid flies above the Ladybower reservoir Derbyshire during a commemoration exercise in 1988

Downtime: Men of the Dambusters 617 Squadron take a break from training for the raid in 1943

Downtime: Men of the Dambusters 617 Squadron take a break from training for the raid in 1943

FOURTH ROW

Crew of AJ-Z (cont): Norman Burrows, GB Rear Gunner.

Crew of AJ-B: William Astell, GB Pilot; John Kinnear, GB Flight Engineer; Floyd Wile, CAN Navigator; Abram Garshowitz, CAN Wireless Operator; Donald Hopkinson, GB Bomb Aimer;  Francis Garbas, CAN Front Gunner; Richard Bolitho, GB Rear Gunner.

Crew of AJ-N: Leslie Knight, AUS Pilot; Raymond Grayston, GB Flight  Engineer; Harold Hobday, GB  Navigator; Robert Kellow, AUS  Wireless Operator; Edward Johnson, GB Bomb Aimer; Frederick Sutherland, CAN Front Gunner; Harry O’Brien, CAN Rear Gunner.

Crew of AJ-E: Robert Barlow, AUS Pilot; Samuel Whillis, GB Flight Engineer.

FIFTH ROW

Crew of AJ-E (cont): Phillip Burgess, GB Navigator; Charles Williams, AUS Wireless Operator; Alan Gillespie, GB Bomb Aimer; Harvey Glinz, CAN Front Gunner; Jack Liddell, GB Rear Gunner.

Crew of AJ-W: John Munro, NZ Pilot; Frank Appleby, GB Flight Engineer; Grant Rumbles, GB Navigator; Percy Pigeon, CAN Wireless Operator; James Clay, GB Bomb Aimer; William Howarth, GB Front Gunner; Harvey Weeks, CAN Rear Gunner.

Crew of AJ-K:Vernon Byers, CAN Pilot; Alistair Taylor, GB Flight Engineer; James Warner, GB Navigator; John Wilkinson, GB Wireless Operator; Arthur Whitaker, GB Bomb Aimer.

The Dambusters flew the Avro Lancaster - a British four-engine heavy bomber which first saw active service in 1942

The Dambusters flew the Avro Lancaster – a British four-engine  heavy bomber which first saw active service in 1942. It became the most famous and most successful of the Second World War night bombers, delivering 608,612 tons of bombs in 156,000 sorties

The Mohne Dam is pictured after it had been breached by 617 Squadron Lancaster bombers, led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson

The Mohne Dam is pictured after it had been breached by 617 Squadron Lancaster bombers, led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson

SIXTH ROW

Crew of AJ-K (cont): Charles Jarvie, GB Front Gunner; James McDowell, CAN Rear Gunner. Crew of AJ-H: Geoffrey Rice, GB Pilot; Edward Smith, GB Flight Engineer; Richard MacFarlane, GB Navigator; Chester Gowrie, CAN Wireless Operator; John Thrasher, CAN Bomb Aimer; Thomas Maynard, GB Front Gunner; Stephen Burns, GB Rear Gunner.

Crew of AJ-T: Joseph McCarthy, US Pilot; William Radcliffe, CAN Flight Engineer; Donald MacLean, CAN Navigator; Leonard Eaton, GB Wireless Operator; George Johnson, GB Bomb Aimer; Ronald Batson, GB Front  Gunner; David Rodger, CAN Rear Gunner.

Crew of AJ-C: Warren Otley, GB Pilot;

SEVENTH ROW

Crew of AJ-C: (cont):Ronald Marsden, GB Flight Engineer; Jack Barrett, GB Navigator; Jack Guterman, GB Wireless Operator; Thomas Johnston, GB Bomb Aimer; Harry Strange, GB Front Gunner; Frank Tees, GB Rear Gunner.

Crew of AJ-S: Lewis Burpee, CAN Pilot; Guy Pegler, GB Flight Engineer; Thomas Jaye, GB Navigator; Leonard Weller, GB Wireless Operator; James Arthur, CAN Bomb Aimer;  William Long, GB Front Gunner; Joseph Brady, CAN Rear Gunner.

Crew of AJ-F: Kenneth Brown, CAN Pilot; Harry Feneron, GB Flight  Engineer; Dudley Heal, GB Navigator; Harry Hewstone, GB Wireless Operator.

BOTTOM ROW

Crew of AJ-F (cont): Stefan Oancia, CAN Bomb Aimer; Daniel Allatson, GB Front Gunner; Grant MacDonald, CAN Rear Gunner.

Crew of AJ-O: William Townsend, GB Pilot; Dennis Powell, GB Flight  Engineer; Cecil Howard, AUS Navigator;  George Chalmers, GB Wireless Operator; Charles Franklin, GB Bomb Aimer; Douglas Webb, GB Front  Gunner; Raymond Wilkinson, GB Rear Gunner.

Crew of AJ-Y: Cyril Anderson, GB Pilot; Robert Paterson, GB Flight Engineer; John Nugent, GB Navigator; William Bickle, GB Wireless Operator; John Green, GB Bomb Aimer; Eric Ewan, GB Front Gunner; Arthur Buck, GB Rear Gunner.

THE DAMBUSTERS STORY: WHAT IT WAS REALLY LIKE… BY THE HEROES WHO TOOK PART

On May 16, 1943, 19 Lancaster bomber crews gathered at a remote RAF station in Lincolnshire for a mission of extraordinary daring – a night-time raid on three heavily defended dams deep in Germany’s industrial heartland.

Their success was immortalised in the classic 1954 film The Dambusters, its thrilling theme tune and gung-ho script evoking the best of British derring-do. But the movie tells only part of the story.

In his book on the raid, military historian Max Arthur gives comprising first-hand accounts from the time and interviews with the surviving airmen – revealing what life was really like for the men of 617 Squadron.

It is a vivid and moving account of the personality clashes, hopes, fears and regrets surrounding one of the most famous bombing operations of all time

For aircraft designer Barnes Wallis, inventor of the famous ‘bouncing bomb’, destroying the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams and flooding the great armament factories of the Ruhr Valley was ‘an engineer’s way of stopping the war’, but the task of turning his theories into reality seemed almost impossible from the start.

Flying Officer Harold Hobday, navigator

Barnes Wallis came along to the briefing and explained how the bomb was going to work.

He came across as a very kindly man – very dedicated, frightfully clever – but rather a fatherly type. We were very impressed with him and thought he was a marvellous man, everybody did.

We were astounded that he could have invented something which was unknown before. Who would expect a 9,250lb bomb to bounce on water? I certainly wouldn’t.

But we weren’t sceptical – we trusted him implicitly. After all his efforts, we didn’t ever dream it would fail.

When we realised the route to the dams took us right into one of the most heavily defended areas of Germany, there was a certain amount of disquiet among the crews, but it was something we just had to accept.

Fatalism – that was mostly my attitude throughout the war. If I was going to buy it, then so be it.

Flying Officer Harold Hobday, navigator

I don’t think any of us expected to get through, really, because so many of our friends had been shot down or gone missing or simply had accidents.

The percentage was very high. I’m surprised I got through. All the same, I don’t think people took special precautions – making wills – I certainly didn’t.

Wing Commander Guy Gibson

Hoppy Hopgood, my second-in-command, said to me: ‘Hey Gibbo, if you don’t come back, can I have your egg tomorrow?’

I realised that the first aircraft to attack the dam would probably catch the gunners with their pants down but the second to attack wouldn’t be so lucky and that would be him.

Harry Humphries, adjutant

It was a beautiful night, warm and inviting and in the messes the aircrew were making their final preparations. I caught the eye of the Wing Commander. ‘Anything you want me to do, sir?’

‘Plenty of beer in the mess when we return,’ he said. ‘We’ll be having a party.’

He looked thoughtful and added: ‘I hope.’ With that he turned to his crew and said: ‘Well chaps, my watch says time to go. Cheerio Adj and don’t forget the beer.’

Flight Lieutenant Dave Shannon

As we were walking out to our aircraft, Hoppy Hopgood grabbed me and we went round the back of a hangar to smoke a cigarette. He said: ‘I think this is going to be a tough one and I don’t think I’m coming back, Dave.’

That shook me a bit. ‘Come off it, Hoppy,’ I said, ‘you’ll beat these b******s; you’ve beaten them for so long, you’re not going to get whipped tonight.’

At 9.30pm, with a full moon, we took off.

Wing Commander Guy Gibson

We had been flying low over the North Sea for about an hour and ten minutes in complete silence, each one busy with his thoughts, while the waves were slopping by a few feet below with monotonous regularity.

The moon dancing in those waves had become almost a hypnotising crystal.

‘Five minutes to go to the Dutch coast, Skip,’ said Terry my navigator. The flight engineer, John Pulford, turned on the spotlights and told me to go down much lower to evade the German radar and searchlights – we were about 100ft off the water.

Jim Deering, in the front turret, began to swing it from either way, ready to deal with any flak ships watching for minelayers off the coast. Hutch sat in his wireless cabin, ready to send a flak warning to the rest of the boys who might run into trouble behind us.

On either side the boys tucked their blunt-nose Lancs in even closer than before, while the crews inside them were probably doing the same sort of thing as my own.

Someone began whistling nervously over the intercom. Someone else said: ‘Shut up.’

About an hour and a half after we crossed the German frontier, we saw the Mohne lake and then the dam itself. It looked grey and solid in the moonlight as though it were part of the countryside itself, immovable and unconquerable.

The German gunners opened up and their tracers began swirling towards us; some even bouncing off the smooth surface of the lake.

This was a horrible moment; we were being dragged along at four miles a minute, almost against our will, towards the things we were going to destroy.

I think at that moment the boys didn’t want to go. I know I didn’t want to go. I thought to myself: ‘In another minute we shall all be dead – so what?’

By now we were a few hundred yards away, and I said quickly under my breath to Pulford: ‘Better leave the throttles open now, and stand by to pull me out of the seat if I get hit.’ I thought he looked a little glum on hearing this.

I remember only a series of kaleidoscopic incidents. The chatter from Joe’s front guns pushing out tracers. Pulford crouching beside me. The smell of burnt cordite. The cold sweat underneath my oxygen mask. The tracers flashing past the windows – they all seemed the same colour now. The closeness of the dam wall, someone saying: ‘Good show, leader. Nice work.’

Then it was all over, and at last we were out of range and there came over us all, I think, an immense feeling of relief and confidence.

Flight Lieutenant David Shannon

Gibson went in first and made an excellent run but the wall was still there. Hoppy Hopgood went next. He had been hit coming over with light flak and was hit again in the petrol tanks, so his starboard wing caught fire.

He did his best to gain height and got his plane up to about 500ft, then it burst into flames and exploded in mid-air. His prediction had been proved right.

Wing Commander Guy Gibson

Hoppy’s aircraft disintegrated and fell to the ground in cascading, flaming fragments. There it began to burn quite gently and rather sinisterly in a field some three miles beyond the dam.

A furious rage surged up inside my own crew, and my rear-gunner said: ‘Let’s go in and murder those gunners.’

As he spoke, the mine which Hoppy’s bomber had dropped blew up the dam’s power station with a tremendous yellow explosion and left in the air a great ball of black smoke.

Flight Lieutenant David Shannon

There was a certain amount of disappointment at this time – after all, we’d been told that one of these bombs placed in the right position, would blow up the wall. Two more of our planes dropped their bombs and I was starting my run-in when suddenly the wall collapsed and Gibson yelled: ‘It’s gone! It’s gone!’

It was a tremendous sight, we just saw the tail end, but the water was getting more and more and faster and faster and it poured out of the lake, taking everything in front of it. After a few minutes it was just an avalanche of mud and water and stuff going down the hill.

Wing Commander Guy Gibson

There was a great breach 100 yards across, and the water, looking like stirred porridge in the moonlight, was gushing out and rolling into the Ruhr Valley towards the industrial centres of Germany’s Third Reich. It was the most amazing sight.

The whole valley filled with fog from the steam of the gushing water, and we saw cars speeding along the roads in front of this great wave which was chasing them and going faster than they could ever hope to go.

I saw water overtake them, wave by wave, and then the colour of the headlights underneath the water changing from light blue to green, from green to dark purple, until there was no longer anything except the water, bouncing down in great waves.

The floods raced on, carrying with them as they went viaducts, railways, bridges and everything that stood in their path. Three miles beyond the dam, the remains of Hoppy’s aircraft were still burning gently, a dull red glow on the ground. Hoppy had been avenged.

Soon after the Mohne dam had been breached, the bombers blew a hole in the Eder and narrowly failed to destroy their third target at Sorpe before returning to Scampton where top brass and ground crews alike had waited anxiously throughout the night.

Harry Humphries, adjutant

The time passed very slowly. Occasionally, the silence in the anteroom would be broken by a stifled cough, or whispered conversations. Why the hell people had to whisper I don’t know, but then I found myself doing it every time I addressed anyone.

Aircraftwoman Morfydd Gronland

There was no sleep for anyone that night – our hearts and minds were in those planes. We WAAFs just sat waiting. We had laid out the tables and a hot meal would be ready on their return. The night wore on.

As the first of the Lancasters began to return, it became apparent that of the 19 aircraft which had left Scampton only a few hours previously, eight had been shot down. Three men from 617 Squadron had been captured by the Germans but 53 had lost their lives.

Harry Humphries, adjutant

I saw the crews in, and even though they were in high spirits, they confirmed that we had taken a beating as regards casualties. I decided to walk over to the watch office – the flying control tower.

My worst possible estimation was insignificant compared with the shock I received. Eight blanks on the blackboard. It was hard to accept.

Flight Sergeant Ken Brown, pilot

We didn’t notice until we got out of the aircraft that all of the ground crew were crying, and it was rather disturbing. We were rather elated that we’d made it back, and there was this bunch of people crying.

I don’t think it hit me until Flight Sergeant ‘Chiefy’ Powell came in, and the tears were just pouring down his face. We looked at him and said: ‘Chiefy, what’s wrong?’ And he said: ‘Have you any idea where any of the other boys are?’

Aircraftwoman Morfydd Gronland

Our WAAF sergeant called us together. ‘I must tell you now the very sad news – 56 of our young boys will never return.’

We all burst into tears. We looked around the Aircrew’s Mess – the tables we had so hopefully laid out for the safe return of our comrades looked empty and pathetic.

Beck Parsons, ground crew

Nobody wanted that sort of loss or expected it, but that was yesterday and we had to move forward. It seems hard but it wasn’t really. As soon as anyone went missing, shot down or whatever, they moved all their chairs around in the mess so it wouldn’t be so noticeable.

Letter to Air Vice-Marshal Ralph Cochrane from Barnes Wallis

For me, the success was almost completely blotted out by the sense of loss of those wonderful young lives.

In the light of our subsequent knowledge, I do hope that all those concerned will feel that the results achieved have not rendered their sacrifice in vain.

Flight Lieutenant David Shannon

Although we had proved his bombs would work, Barnes Wallis never for a moment thought the cost would be so high.

A more distressed figure it would have been hard to imagine by the time the last aircraft had landed. He had not realised that there would be this tremendous sacrifice of life. He was in tears and quite pathetic the following morning.

When the immediate blaze of publicity died down, there was time to consider the impact of the raid, which had claimed 1,701 lives in the valleys below the Mohne and Eder dams, and to weigh the achievement against the losses and the extent to which German industry had been crippled.

Group Captain Douglas Bader

I well remember the destruction of the Mohne and Eder dams while I was in a German prison camp. It had an enormous effect on the Germans and the opposite effect, of course, on the prisoners of war.

Flight Lieutenant Les Munro, pilot

In deciding that the dams should be attacked and breached, the War Ministry did not appreciate that the Germans would be capable of repairing the damage in so short a time as they did – something like four or five months – and in that respect maybe it wasn’t a complete success, but I’ve no doubt that it caused complete devastation.

Flying Officer Harold Hobday, navigator

When you consider the atmosphere during the war, and how morale could be boosted – or could drop so easily – it was a vital thing to keep morale up. The dams raid, apart from anything else, did a lot for the morale of the country and abroad.

It also did a lot of damage in Germany, I’m sure it did. So when people say: ‘Was it worth it?’ I say that it was.

Although the Dambusters raid was undoubtedly a terrific moral victory for the Allies, history judges its long-term effect on the German war machine less positively.

Both local water production – crucial to the steel factories – and the electricity grid were at full capacity within a month of the operation, and the damage to the Ruhr Valley’s industrial output was considered insignificant when weighed against the loss of life among the British aircrew.

The dams were rebuilt within three months and German factories were at full capacity a month later.

Perhaps the most damaging effect of the raids was the disruption to food production, as large areas of arable land in the valleys below the dams – vital to keeping Germany fed  –  were rendered unusable.

• Adapted from DAMBUSTERS: A LANDMARK ORAL HISTORY edited by Max Arthur, published by Virgin books at £20. To order a copy call 0845 155 0720

Mission accomplished: A reconnaissance photo, taken the day after the raid shows successful damage to the dam wall and the exposed 'beaches' from the resulting water-level drop seen at top of the picture

Mission accomplished: A reconnaissance photo, taken the day after the raid shows successful damage to the dam wall and the exposed ‘beaches’ from the resulting water-level drop seen at top of the picture

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