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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 May, 2003, 20:49 GMT 21:49 UK
Anniversary tribute to Dambusters
Christopher Wallis
Christopher Wallis watches the fly-past in his father's honour
The inventor of World War II's bouncing bomb was honoured on Saturday - the 60th anniversary of the Dambusters raid.

Barnes Wallis was remembered as Britain's last operational Lancaster bomber staged a flypast, watched by his son, Christopher.

The Lancaster flew over the cliffs at Reculver, near Herne Bay in Kent, where the bouncing bomb was secretly tested.

The attack on German dams took place on the night of 16-17 May and was famously made into a film, starring Sir Michael Redgrave.

Two dams were breached in the raid, but an estimated 1,294 people drowned, while 53 aircrew were killed and three taken prisoner.

Key places

The flypast was part of the Lancaster's tour around England for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Lancaster bomber
You felt you had played at least a part in doing something useful in the war
Norman 'Spud' Boorer

It has been flying over key places in the development of the bomb, including Bletchley Park, Bucks - home of the Enigma code breakers - and Brands Hatch.

At Reculver, Christopher Wallis was joined by representatives from the RAF Association, Territorial Army, British Army and the RAF Museum, as well as thousands of spectators.

The flypast then continued over Eyebrook Reservoir near Corby in Northamptonshire, the site where the squadron once practised low-flying night flights.

It then returned to RAF Scampton, the base used by the 19 bombers used in the raid.

The bomber had also been due to fly over the Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, Surrey, where Wallis developed the bombs while working at the Vickers armaments factory but bad weather conditions prevented this leg of the flight.

Barnes Wallis
Barnes Wallis's bomb could skip torpedo nets

Barnes Wallis's bomb was designed to spin backwards at 500rpm, skipping over torpedo nets, before detonating against dams supplying power to German industry.

A key member of the team, 87-year-old Norman 'Spud' Boorer, remembers the raid "as if it was yesterday".

He said: "You felt you had played at least a part in doing something useful in the war."

The airmen put their training to the test when they dropped the bombs from exactly 60ft above the water at a speed of 220mph.

The raid was deemed a success as the destruction of the Mohne and Eder dams caused widespread flooding and disruption of rail, road and canal communications.

A Ministry of Defence official said of the Dambusters raid and the memorial flight: "This is a fitting tribute to the sacrifices made by these men on behalf of their country.

"Even 60 years on, it's still something that captures the public's imagination."




SEE ALSO:
Queen attends Dambusters tribute
09 May 03  |  Scotland
Dambusters' tribute at air show
04 May 03  |  Lincolnshire
Dambusters anniversary marked
27 Apr 03  |  Southern Counties
Dambusters return home
17 Apr 03  |  Scotland
Dambusters in TV documentary
03 Apr 03  |  England


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