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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April, 2003, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
Dambusters return home
RAF Lossiemouth
The crews are welcomed back
Air and ground crews from the historic 617 Dambusters Squadron have been reunited with their families at RAF Lossiemouth after serving in the Gulf.

The first party to return flew into Glasgow on a civilian aircraft and travelled by bus to the base in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Hundreds of Lossiemouth personnel were sent to the Gulf in February.

A total of 24 Tornado aircraft were deployed to the war zone from the Moray base and flew about 100 missions.

It was the biggest ever deployment from RAF Lossiemouth and none of the base's aircraft was lost during the four week war.

The remainder of the air and ground crews are due to return later, possibly by the end of the month.

Particularly on night one, up near Baghdad, the sky was just full of missiles and anti-aircraft artillery and we had several direct attacks on our aircraft
Wing Commander Dave Robertson
Wing Commander Dave Robertson, 45, said it was "wonderful to be back home".

He was greeted by his wife Helen and their children Michael, 16, Elizabeth, 14 and nine-year-old Adam.

"It was quite awesome to have been there. You knew you were part of history.

"Looking down at the ground and then at the TV pictures, it was quite incredible. It is something that will live with me for the rest of my life."

He said battle damage assessments showed the weapons used by the RAF were "incredibly accurate".

While on active service the squadron was the first to use the new long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles in attacks on the heavily reinforced bases of Saddam Hussein's High Command.

Dambusters uniform

The Storm Shadow is designed to hit well defended targets such as bunkers and bridges while avoiding the need to place the bomber in a situation where it would face enemy air defences.

The squadron used 11 of the weapons against targets over Baghdad and northern Iraq in an operation carried out on the first day of the war, the first engagement by British forces in the war.

Wing Cdr Robertson said: "Particularly on night one, up near Baghdad, the sky was just full of missiles and anti-aircraft artillery and we had several direct attacks on our aircraft."

The Tornado GR4 crews were based at Ali Al Salem in northern Kuwait, taking part in what the wing commander called "an historic mission" on the 60th anniversary of the squadron's formation.

The Dambusters are famed for their World War II mission where they dropped bouncing bombs to breach dams on the Rhur.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Craig Anderson reports
"617 squadron can add Iraq to their battle honours."



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