Bomber marks 70th anniversary of historic World War II Dambusters raid with Derwent dam flypast

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Derwent dam, in the Hope Valley in Derbyshire, was one of the sites used by airmen for practice runs ahead their mission

A Lancaster bomber has carried out a flypast over the Derwent reservoir to mark the historic World War II raid on German dams.

The dam, in the Hope Valley in Derbyshire, was one of the sites used by airmen for practice runs ahead their mission.

Today, the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and 617 Squadron will recreate history by flying over the twin towers of the reservoir.

More than a third of the men who went on the raids, which required them to fly just 60ft above the ground, never returned.

After the flypast at the reservoir the aircraft will continue on to Chatsworth House to carry out another for members of the public gathered for the historic moment.

The flypast is one of several events taking place to mark the anniversary of the daring Dams Raid of May 16-17 1943 during the Second World War.

Only one of the original 133 pilots - 96-year-old Les Munro - is still alive.

In Staffordshire, the Royal British Legion will create a Field of Messages at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas.

More than 10,500 cardboard crests carrying written messages from supporters will be on display at the memorial throughout the day.

Later, a sunset ceremony will take place at RAF Scampton, near Lincoln, where the crews set off from on their mission 70 years ago.

Veterans and invited guests will gather for the event, which is set to include a further flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and 617 squadron.

The raid, carried out by 133 airmen in 19 Lancaster bombers from the specifically formed 617 squadron, was an attempt to cripple a major part of the Nazi war economy by carrying out attacks on three dams in the industrial heartland of Germany.

Fifty-six of the men did not return from the mission, which required them to fly the Lancaster bombers at just 60ft above the ground - incredibly low when compared to the 250ft aircraft must fly at nowadays - in the dark across northern Europe.

The top-secret mission, codenamed Operation Chastise, was led by wing commander Guy Gibson and was credited with boosting morale across Britain.

The planes, armed with scientist Dr Barnes Wallis' bouncing bombs, flew to the Ruhr Valley either side of midnight on May 16, 1943.

The Mohne and Eder dams were breached during the raid and the Sorpe damaged.

The attack was immortalised by the 1955 film starring Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd.

Even with the loss of life, the operation was hailed an incredible success at the time but in recent decades historians have downplayed its effects.

Les Munro, the last surviving pilot of the raid, said he believed the raids were justified due to the effect on morale in Britain.

Speaking to the BBC, the 94-year-old, who was born in New Zealand, said: "I believe from an operational point of view they were very successful.

"They had achieved the two major primary targets, they had damaged Sorpe - but not perhaps as great as Barnes Wallis had anticipated - but coming back to the general feeling the effect on the British morale was really significant and I think from that point alone it was justified and can be categorised as successful."

BBC Radio 2 are broadcasting Chris Evans' Breakfast Show live from RAF Scampton tomorrow to commemorate the anniversary.

Dermot O'Leary and Jeremy Vine will present a Friday Night Is Music Night concert live from Biggin Hill Airfield.

Video: The Dambusters anniversary

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links