Johnson explained that his flight was slightly different from the others, which were front-on attacks. The Sorpe dam was in a valley; for the bomb to work they would have to fly down and along it and drop the bomb as near as possible to its centre. It was Johnson's job to aim the bomb; he lay face down in the perspex nosecone and guided the plane in. "We flew down over the hillside, over a church steeple we used as a marker, and then swooped down along the dam wall - but I wasn't satisfied. I hadn't done all that training to get it wrong and waste a bomb. I called it Dummy Run."
He did more dummy runs before deciding the position was right. On the sixth dummy run, rear-gunner Dave Roger shouted 'Will somebody get that bomb out of here!' He was feeling the full effects of the g-forces as they swooped lower and lower. On the tenth run, they were almost touching the lake; just 30ft above at a speed of 220 mph, when they made the drop. The dam disintegrated and disappeared in a huge explosion as the bomb,weighing 9,000 lbs, detonated.
The Dambusters won a host of medals, including a VC for Guy Gibson, who led the squadron, and Distinguished Flying Medal for Johnson, but the casualty rate was high. 53 of the 133 aircrew never returned.
Those involved in making the programme: the BBC Concert Orchestra, the RAF's Central Band, the RAF Squadronnaires, the Military Wives Choir; actors Carl Prekopp, Nick Boulton, Sam Dale, Will Howard, Clare Corbett. Carl Prekopp supplied the photo - thank you.
There's just one more thing to say about the programme ... Brilliant!
Related plays involving the wartime RAF: Spitfire, by Mike Walker (2012), Bomber, by Len Deighton (1999), Barnes and Molly, by Ray Brown (2000), The Navigator's Log, by Don Haworth (1989)
4 Aug 2012. A drama by Mike Walker about the most famous British fighter aircraft in history, first broadcast in September 2010 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Framed by recollections from veteran Geoffrey Wellum, the drama features specially made recordings of RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfires, including the only Spitfire still flying today to have fought in the Battle.
The drama traces RJ Mitchell's design from creation to legend and the fortunes of two young pilots who join a frontline Spitfire squadron just as the Battle of Britain begins. It stars Samuel West, Samuel Barnett, Rory Kinnear and Ruth Wilson.
Many factors were important in the Battle, but it was the excellence of the Spitfire which most famously evened the odds in the fight against the Luftwaffe. Mike Walker's drama takes us close to this magnificent aircraft and gives us a feeling of what it was like to fly the legendary plane which became, in test pilot Jeffrey Quill's words, 'a symbol of defiance and victory'.
Technical Advisor: Patrick Bishop; original music and sound design by David Chilton. Producer/Director: Amber Barnfather. A Goldhawk Essential production for BBC Radio 4.
Note from ND ... my grandparents had two young pilots billeted with them in Leicestershire during the war. They both fought in the Battle of Britain; one of them survived it.
The RAF Bomber Command Memorial, in London, recently commissioned, will commemorate the 55,000 bomber airmen who were killed. They died in blazing, crashing aircraft whilst fighting against the enemies of our free world.
After the bombing of Bremen on 17-18 Jan 1942, the Nazi newspapers denounced the raiders as ‘terror fliers’. As they did so, sixteen Nazi bureaucrats met on 20 January in a villa at Wannsee outside Berlin to co-ordinate the extermination of the entire Jewish population of Europe.
From 1942 until the end of the war, Hitler and the Wehrmacht High Command were to learn how serious Air Marshal Harris and his American counterparts were in bringing death and destruction to the Third Reich as part of destroyinging an evil regime which could not be brought to heel by anything but total defeat.
Those who wish to know more about this period in our history should visit the Bomber Command website.
Don Haworth (1985)...In 'Talk of Love and War' I have two chaps who are talking in a hut, and that, really, is all there is in the play, but it is possible, simply through the dialogue of two people, to create very many different backgrounds, and to people all those backgrounds...... so that in this play, there are many people who are present to the listener, who are never actually present as actors speaking in the studio. The producer was Richard Wortley.
Asterisked plays known to exist in VRPCC collections
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