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65th Anniversary Flypast

BBMF & 617 Sqn pay tribute to the Second World War veterans at the Dam in the Derwent valley


A service and fly-past was held to mark the 65th anniversary of the World War II Dambusters mission.


      The day began with a remembrance service which paid tribute the 53 crew who were lost. The service was made even more poignant when as it closed, the Lancaster majestically approached the Dam which was targeted time after time by those brave crews as they prepared to make history.

      In 1943, the RAF's 617 Squadron set out to destroy three dams in Germany's Ruhr valley. They managed to breach two, giving a greatly needed boost to Britain's war effort. On 16 May 1943, 19 aircraft set out on a mission, codenamed Operation Chastise which was to destroy the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams in Germany's industrial heartland. Only 11 of the aircraft returned from the perilous low-level mission in which they flew at just 150ft all the way from England before descending for the bombing run so as not to be seen by the German radar. They used specially-designed drum-shaped bombs which skimmed across the water, rolled down the dam wall and exploded at depth. The bouncing bombs were the brainchild of legendary aviation engineer Sir Barnes Wallis

Of those present at the service was the last surviving pilot from the mission Sqn Ldr Les Munro. Michael Gibson whose uncle, Wing Cdr Guy Gibson, led the mission and Richard Todd, who played Mr Gibson in the 1954 film.

In the passenger seat the last surviving pilot from that well documented raid Sqn Ldr Les Munro

          Before the flypast began the BBC Helicopter took onboard Sqn Ldr Les Munro who had made the journey from New Zealand to be there. He was taken back low along the reservoir so as to relive the experience for the television. The flypast began at 10:30 with the arrival of the Lancaster which approached the Dam at 100ft with bomb doors open taking the turn and heading to Ladybower reservoir. As the aircraft flew past the sound of applause could be heard over the aircrafts resonating Merlin engines. It flew along the reservoir made a 180 deg turn and flew back over the Dam in the opposite direction. A few moments later it appeared for it's second pass with bomb doors closed. On it's final pass as the Lancaster flew over the Dam where it was joined by two GR4's of 617Sqn which pealed off on each side before reappearing down the reservoir for their final high speed pass with wings swept back. The flying continued with the arrival of the Spitfire & Hurricane, they too made a number off passes before departing and allowing the final participant the Dakota DC3 to finish off the flypast with a few very slow passes 


Top four images Lancaster B1 PA474 making its passes over the reservoir which is now Infamous with 617 Squadron.

Images 5 & 6 Tornado GR4's of 617 Sqn. Image 7 World War II icons the Spitfire & Hurricane.

Finally images 8 & 9 the venerable workhorse of the Second World War the Douglas Dakota DC3



All in all a very fitting way to pay tribute to those crews of 617 Sqn

 A display by the BBMF that will stay in the memories of those present for a very long time.