Yesterday (Monday), in the first part of our special feature, we refreshed readers minds of the incredible story of 617 Squadron, who were specially assembled at Scampton in 1943 to bomb three dams in Germany's Ruhr Valley, with Wing Commander Guy Gibson as its commander.
Many tributes have been paid to our homegrown heroes over the weekend – including Hameringham’s own George ‘Johnny’ Johnson, the last Dambuster who sadly died last year at the age of 101 – to mark the 80th anniversary of the Dambuster’s Raid.
Horncastle & District Royal British Legion held a special event in Johnny’s honour at Horncastle Community Centre on Saturday (May 13).
The successful evening featured music from 40s singer Claudia, and then showed a tribute to Johnny with details of his life before, during, and after his part in the Dambuster raid.
The evening finished with a showing of the aforementioned Dambuster film.
Earlier in the day, the annual Dambusters Ride heritage event also took place, setting off at the Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa with riders will be cycling either the 40, 80 or 100 mile routes.
The 40 mile route saw riders set off from the Petwood Hotel and went across to the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby, while the 80 mile route from the Petwood took in Scampton Church, the International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC), and Metheringham Airfield Visitor Centre.The largest route, the 100 miles, set off from the Petwood Hotel and took in Scampton Church, the IBCC, Metheringham Airfield Visitor Centre, and Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre.
Neil Tomlin, Head of Engagement at the RAF Benevolent Fund said: “This year’s Dambusters Ride was an enormous success with over 300 riders taking part to raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund. The money raised will help provide financial, emotional, and practical assistance to members of the RAF Family who require support.”
Wing Commander Mike Ainsworth, who took part in the 100 mile ride, said: “I take part in the Dambusters Ride every year - throughout my RAF career, I’ve always felt safe in the knowledge that the RAF Benevolent Fund would be there for me if times got tough.
"I’ve seen first-hand the incredible support they give not only to serving personnel but also to RAF veterans and their families, so it’s important for me to support the charity.”
He added: “This year has been particularly poignant as I’m also doing the ride in memory of Johnny Johnson, the last surviving Dambuster, who passed away last December. He was such an inspiration and will be missed dearly.”
The IBCC has installed its own tribute to the Dambusters to mark the 80th anniversary of this iconic operation, with the figures of the 53 men who lost their lives being produced by a collaboration between Standing with Giants artist, Dan Barton, and military artist, Simon Smith.
The central focus is that of the crew of ED887 AJ-A, who successfully breached the Möhne Dam, piloted by Sqn Ldr Henry Melvin “Dinghy” Young, with the figures of Wg Cdr Guy Gibson and Barnes Wallis, recreated from their photographs.
They were officially unveiled at the annual InSpire event on Sunday (May 14) as part of a Memorial service for Sqn Ldr Johnny Johnson.
The installation, which is free to visit, will be in place until mid-August.
Tonight (Tuesday), the BBMF Lancaster will be flying a special route over all Bomber Command bases in Lincolnshire, taking in 34 flypast locations, as well as the RAF Museum at Hendon, to commemorate the anniversary of the raid.