The connection between RAF Dambusters Squadron 617 and Woodhall Spa is well known around here, and is nowhere more evident than in the Petwood Hotel itself, where in 1942 Dambuster crew, including Canadian, New Zealand, Australian and British Air Force personnel, were stationed. The Squadron Bar, virtually untouched since it served as the officers’ mess, remains a magnet for historians and anyone who, like me, as a boy, was thrilled by the Dambusters film when it came out in 1955.
I am now struck by the tenacity and dedication of those who keep the Dambusters reality alive, as evidenced not just by frequent guests and visitors, but also by numerous posts on social media and, in particular by the Dambusters Blog, written by Charles Foster, nephew of Dambuster pilot David Maltby. As well as logging fascinating biographical notes and reproducing numerous old photographs, the blog features some intriguing current stories, such as an unusual take on Barnes Wallis, the inventor of the famous bouncing bomb:
“The name of Barnes Wallis is of course well known to students of the Dams Raid. But I bet that most people would struggle to remember many of the other projects, besides the so-called bouncing bomb, which he worked on throughout his long career as an engineer. Back in the 1920s, Wallis headed the design team which built the R100 airship.” Recommended reading!
[Picture copyright the Ray Hepner Collection, courtesy The Dambusters Blog]
And, on a darker note, who would have thought there may be skullduggery going on with Dambusters memorabilia? In a blog post dated July 19 this year, I learned that “Dambuster writer and historian Alex Bateman has been charged with the theft of the logbook belonging to Flt Sgt John Fraser, who took part in the Dams Raid as the bomb aimer in John Hopgood’s crew “, and in another dated August 16, that the trial has been fixed for January 2017.
In another story Charles alleges that a pre-raid “intelligence” photo of the Möhne dam recently offered for sale is a fake. His argument is convincing: “The biggest clue that this is so is that there is no power station below the dam wall. The power station was famously damaged on the night of the raid when John Hopgood’s mine bounced over the dam and hit it. It was then swept away by the later flood when the dam was breached.”
This is high quality themed blogging. Keep up the good work Charles.
Footnote: Dambusters film remake?