NEWS
16/05/2018 14:11 BST | Updated 16/05/2018 14:17 BST

Dambusters Raids Remembered 75 Years On

53 men were killed during Operation Chastise.

PA Wire/PA Images
Lancaster Bombers flying in formation over the Union Jack in 1946 

A minute’s silence at the Bomber Command Memorial in London’s Green Park will today mark 75 years since the Dambusters undertook their daring raid during World War II. 

To remember those who died in during Operation Chastise, 53 pairs of flying gloves were laid out next to the memorial. 

A total of 133 aircrew left for the raid on board 19 Lancaster bombers from RAF Scampton, led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, but during the mission 53 men were killed and three were captured. 

PA Wire/PA Images
Flight Lieutenant Nigel Painter holds a wreath as he stands among 53 pairs of flying gloves at the Bomber Command Memorial in London's Green Park 

A Lancaster Bomber was also scheduled to fly over RAF Scampton – the original home of the Dambusters’ squadron – to mark the anniversary, but had to be cancelled due to windy conditions.  

The flyover will now be conducted by a 29 Sqn Typhoon aircraft on Wednesday after weather conditions, particularly the wind, were considered too dangerous for the BBMF Lancaster, a Battle of Britain Memorial statement said.

Thousands of spectators are expected to visit the dam to watch the aircraft fly past despite the Lancaster Bomber no longer taking to the skies.

PA Wire/PA Images
Squadron Leader George 'Johnny' Johnson is Britain's last surviving Dambuster

Squadron Leader George “Johnny” Johnson, Britain’s last surviving Dambuster, was part of 617 Squadron, which carried out a night of raids on German dams in an effort to disable Hitler’s industrial heartland.

The 96-year-old, of Bristol, said the anniversary on Wednesday night and Thursday morning emphasises the importance of the raid and acts as a reminder for younger generations.

When asked what advice he would offer to the current aircrew in his former squadron, he said: “Do your utmost to maintain the performance and prestige of the squadron.”

PA Wire/PA Images
Commanding officer of 617 squadron, Wing Commander John Butcher (left) with Johnny Johnson at RAF Coningsby 

His crew was one of five selected to target the Sorpe dam, and had to fly along its length at as low an altitude as possible and drop the bomb in the centre.

Although Mr Johnson’s aircrew did not destroy their target, the Germans had to empty the dam to repair it, causing major disruption to the war effort.

Asked about the most significant thing he remembers from the night of the raids, he said: “It was an exhilarating feeling, flying low level into the Ruhr Valley in bright moonlight.

“Once we had recovered from the early disappointment of the target – the Sorpe didn’t require us to spin the bomb or use any of our practised techniques – the most significant memory was the sight of the burst Mohne dam as we flew home.”