The Dam Busters

A good bastard: Squadron Leader Tom Bennett

This guy is a seriously good bastard. Squadron Leader Tom Bennett, who has died aged 93, flew as a navigator in one of the specialist crews on No 617 (Dambusters) Squadron.

Squadron Leader Tom Bennett, who has died aged 93, flew as a navigator in one of the specialist crews on No 617 (Dambusters) Squadron .

In April 1944 Bennett teamed up with his former pilot, Gerry Fawke, to convert to the Mosquito before joining No 617, where the CO, Leonard Cheshire, was perfecting low-level target marking techniques. The Lancaster-equipped squadron had four Mosquitos for this specialist role.

Fawke and Bennett flew their first operation on April 18, with the Juvisy marshalling yards the target. They dived to 400ft to drop their markers before the Lancasters attacked, and the success of the operation proved to be the prelude to a concentrated period of similar operations in advance of the D-Day landings .

Just before the landings No 617 received the huge 12,000lb “Tallboy”, often referred to as the “earthquake bomb”. Its first use, on the night of June 8, was a spectacular success. Trains bringing German reinforcements from the south of France had to pass through the Saumur tunnel near the Loire. The four Mosquitos marked the target for the Lancasters attacking from 10,000ft, and a Tallboy fell 60 yards from the tunnel mouth. The shock waves devastated the tunnel.  Read more »

Some Germans with a sense of humour

Well I never, who would have ever thought Germans would have a sense of humour:

When visiting a German Christmas market on a cold winter’s day, one might expect to hear the sound of carols, sleighbells and even seasonal pop tunes playing out.

Instead, one such market in Birmingham has taken to playing out a song more closely associated with the Second World War: the theme tune to Dam Busters.

The song is now said to be played up to nine times a day by the carousel at the Frankfurt Christmas Market in Victoria Square, Birmingham.

Written by English composer Eric Coates, it is best known for featuring in the 1955 film The Dam Busters, which depicted a daring raid by 617 Squadron on the Möhne, Eder and Sorpe dams deep in wartime Germany.

Birmingham City Council, which organised the event, has now claimed it has “no control” over the songs played, saying it showcased a “large collection of music from around the world”.

One visitor to the market said: “It stopped me in my tracks when I realised what the tune was on the carousel.”

“Who says the Germans haven’t got a sense of humour? Either that or someone’s taking the mick at their expense.”