Dambuster Commemorations

A black granite memorial honouring fallen members of 617 Squadron ‘The Dambusters’ was unveiled at Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, on May 18. The 3m-tall (9ft 10in) memorial bears the names of some 35 personnel who died on duty with 617 Sqn, or in service after their time on the squadron, since World War Two. The V-shaped sculpture represents the shapes of two 617 Squadron aircraft – the Avro Vulcan and Panavia Tornado. Wreaths were laid during the unveiling ceremony and the Royal Air Force Memorial Flight Lancaster flew overhead, followed by the two 617 Sqn Tornados specially painted to mark the unit’s 70th anniversary. The memorial is the work of Volker Schürmann, a local amateur historian who located the crash site just outside Haldern, a village near the Dutch-German border, as part of his research into the fate of aircraft ED927/AJ-E, flown by Flight Lieutenant Bob Barlow. ‘AJ-E’ was part of the attack’s second wave, heading towards the Sorpe dam about 40km (25 miles) south-west of Dortmund. Attempting to avoid radar detection, anti-aircraft guns and night fighters, it was flying very low and hit an electricity pylon. The aircraft’s ‘Upkeep’ weapon was thrown clear of the crash. It was defused and taken to the Luftwaffe test airfield at Rechlin, north-east Germany, where experts quickly learned the secrets of the weapon that had destroyed the dams. “I’m from two generations after the war,” he says.”

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