21st March 2013 marked the anniversary of the formation of 617 sqn commonly known as the Dambusters.
They had a short period of time to train for the attack on the Dams on 16th and 17th May 1943. The Dams at this time would be at their fullest to ensure maximum destruction and disruption and a moon lit night was required.
The crews trained at low level flying. Some times lower than 150 ft. The tallest pylons in this country are about that height. One pilot flew so low low practising over the sea that the water ripped the bomb away that was hanging underneath the plane.
Following the attack branches were found stuck in the underneath of the planes.
Wing Commander Guy Gibson was awarded the VC for his leadership. Part of his citation:
The task was fraught with danger and difficulty. Wing Commander Gibson personally made the initial attack on the Moehne dam. Descending to within a few feet of the water and taking the full brunt of the antiaircraft defences, he delivered his attack with great accuracy. Afterwards he circled very low for 30 minutes, drawing the enemy fire on himself in order to leave as free a run as possible to the following aircraft which were attacking the dam in turn.
Wing Commander Gibson then led the remainder of his force to the Eder dam where, with complete disregard for his own safety, he repeated his tactics and once more drew on himself the enemy fire so that the attack could be successfully developed.
Wing Commander Gibson has completed over 170 sorties, involving more than 600 hours operational flying. Throughout his operational career, prolonged exceptionally at his own request, he has shown leadership, determination and valour of the highest order.
Part of the commemoration's is the tail art shown on a Tornado. 617 sqn are now based at RAF Conningsby, Lincs. More is to follow between 16th and 19th May.