Friday, May 16, 2008

Guy Gibson and the Dambusters remembered 65 years on

May 16th, 2008 a service and fly-past has been held to mark the 65th anniversary of the World War II Dambusters mission.
A Lancaster bomber flew three times over Derwent Reservoir in Derbyshire, which was used by the original pilots to train ahead of their famous raid.
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 boost to Britain's war effort.
The service remembered the eight aircraft and 53 crew who were lost.
A Spitfire, a Hurricane, two Tornadoes and a Dakota transport plane joined the fly-past.
Most of them travelled from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire to take part.
Low-level mission
Sqn Ldr Les Munro, the last surviving pilot from the mission which was codenamed Operation Chastise, was a guest of honour.
The New Zealander said: "I feel a certain amount of pride that I've outlasted the other pilots.
"I'm not sure whether that says anything about the way I've lived and that sort of thing, but I think that I've always had a bit of satisfaction in that I've outlasted many of the others."
Also present was Michael Gibson whose uncle, Wing Cdr Guy Gibson, led the Dambusters.

WWII Dambusters raid revisited
During the service, 88-year-old Richard Todd, who played Mr Gibson in the 1954 film The Dambusters, laid poppies on the water of the reservoir.
The Lancaster is the last left flying in the UK, and there are only two still airworthy in the world.
It flew 100ft above the water, which compares to the 60ft of the Dambusters on their practice runs.
On 16 May 1943, 19 aircraft set out to destroy the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams in Germany's industrial heartland.
They used specially-designed drum-shaped bouncing bombs which skimmed across the water, rolled down the dam wall and exploded at depth.
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 to defeat the German radar.
It resulted in the largest awarding of medals at any one time during the war.
The bouncing bombs were the brainchild of legendary aviation engineer Sir Barnes Wallis, who was knighted in 1971.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

An RCAF tribute to Victor Phillip Walsh

I wish to dedicate this tribute to Mr. Victor Walsh who is originally from Montreal, Canada. Mr Walsh joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941. Victor wanted to join the RCAF like so many young airmen, to help protect his country in times of danger and trouble, not only for Canada but for all of the free world. I would have loved to meet Victor but i never have but i have been very fortunate to meet his son Richard, through the wonders of the Internet, actually through EBay and then Richard told me of his father Victor. I was so happy and proud to meet the son of an RCAF airman that i offered Richard to do a post of his father and of his WW2 exploits. I am very fortunate to do a post of a WW2 veteran who has contributed to give us so much of our freedom that many people now seem to take so much for granted! Even now, 63 years after the end of the Second World war, i simply cannot forget any of the sacrifices our veterans have done for us and this includes the sacrifices of Victor.

Victor joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in Montreal to be an Air gunner on a Canadian or British bomber of the Commonwealth forces during the Second World War but his ambitions didn't stop him there! Having a High school diploma, Victor figured that he actually could be and wanted to be an RCAF pilot. Although a tall man, Victor was able to somehow fit in the small cramped space of an air gunner to protect his bomber but this just wasn't enough for Victor. He wanted more action and more responsibilities so he became a pilot for the RCAF after many months of learning, training and flying. From my personnel accounts as a WW2 historian, i do not recall hearing of many air gunners becoming pilots during the Second World War, so this was indeed quite an exploit being an air gunner and then becoming a pilot. Victor graduated from the RCAF gunnery and training school in 1943 and in 1944 was transferred to England. Victor, during the war after hard work and devotion became a warrant officer and has met the Queen mother at a reception at the Leinster Court Hotel in London on Febuary 10, 1942 with other Canadian airmen. Victor served in Italy and all across Europe during the Second World War as a gunner and then as an RCAF pilot. Victor, i wanted to say thank you for all of your courage and bravery and for all that you have done not only for me but for Canada all of the free world in which we live in today! I am so happy to be free, thanks to you and all of our veterans!

Thank you Victor and also thank you to Richard for helping me meet your father Victor, another Royal Canadian Air Force WW2 hero!