Dambusters raid 16th – 17th May 1943
The raid on the dams in the Ruhr valley was carried out on the night of 16th May 1943 by Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron, the Lancaster bombers returning in the early morning of the 17th. The Möhne and Edersee Dams had been breached, using the “bouncing bomb” invented by Sir Barnes Wallis, who was working as a designer for Vickers at the Pre-war Brooklands Motor Course in Weybridge, Surrey. The destruction of the dams caused catastrophic flooding of the valley stopping German war production and giving a much needed boost to the British moral.
The bombers returned and began landing at Scampton at 03:11 hours, with Guy Gibson landing at 04:15. The last of the bombers, with the call sign O for Orange, flown by P.O. William Clifford Townsend landed at 06:15 with only three engines running.
Townsend had taken off from Scampton at 0014 that morning, part of the third wave and attacked the Ennepe Dam. On the third attempt they dropped the bomb which exploded short, unfortunately having no apparent effect on the dam. They then made the 20 minute flight to the Möhne dam or what was left of it, to form up for the return flight home.
P.O. W C Townsend had originally joined the Army, but in May 1941 he transferred to the RAF and began his flight training in Tiger Moths at No. 19 Flying Training School. Below is the first of many entries in Pilot Officer J.I. MacBean’s log book, showing that he was instructing Townsend in Tiger Moths (DH82a) written in after the Dambuster raid, next to Townsends first entry is “Dambusters” 617 Squad Pilot 1943.
Also under the Wartime portrait published in The Tatler, September 1943 P.O. MacBean has written “Taught by me June 1941”
The log books make very interesting reading, P.O. MacBean flew all types of aircraft including Mosquito’s. After the war he went on to be the pilot for Billy Butlin of the ‘Butlins’ holiday camps.
The 6th and last Log book contains the records of the Butlins flights.
Classic Military would like to thank James MacBean’s family for giving us access to the Log books and family pictures, which should not be reproduced without written permission.