FINAL BRIEFING – THE DAMBUSTERS 70th ANNIVERSARY PORTFOLIO
by Anthony Saunders
RAF Scampton: 16 May 1943 20.55 hrs – Guy Gibson readies his crew to climb inside their waiting Lancaster – AJ-G ‘George’. A red flare will soon curl skywards, burning brightly against the sun’s fast-fading rays; it is the signal to start engines and at 21.39 G-George will get airborne, leading the first wave of three aircraft. For the crews of 617 Squadron the weeks of intensive training were now over – Operation Chastise was underway.
Overall Print Size: 26½” wide x 19½” high
Everyone at Scampton suspected that something big was about to happen. The crews of the recently formed 617 Squadron, hand-picked by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, had been training hard for weeks and the rumour on the grapevine suggested it might be the Tirpitz they were after. But then, late in the afternoon of 16 May 1943 came the call over the station tannoy that they had all been waiting for: ‘All crews of 617 Squadron to report to the briefing room – immediately.’
The buzz of excited conversation dropped into silence as Gibson addressed them, and the secret was shared: their small force was about to attack the major dams of western Germany. It was what they had been waiting for and they would go that night.
Every print has been hand numbered and personally signed by the artist along with a veteran that took part in this historic event:
Corporal MAUREEN STEVENS WAAF
Served as the duty operator in the main control tower throughout the Raid, relaying information from the aircrews to the senior Commanders. She talked the surviving crews back to Scampton and also had the sad task of listening out till the last for those who didn’t make it home.