And so we bid farewell to Les Munro, 96, a New Zealander and in his youth a member of that "band of brothers" in 617 Squadron who formed the RAF attack force on the German dams that were an important part of the power source for the Ruhr industrial area. It was a brilliantly conceived operation which stemmed from the genius of Barnes Wallis the principal scientist involved. It almost goes without saying that the skill and courage involved in flying those huge lumbering Lancaster bombers in a dead straight line at just 60' above the water was immense. It's true that the end result was a tactical rather than a strategic success but the huge boost to morale on the 'home front' should not be discounted. It is doubly disappointing that true to his stubborn stupidity, 'Bomber' Harris failed to send in follow-up, high-level bomber raids which would have extended the German repair programme enormously.
Les Munro leaning out of the cockpit of Lancaster 'W for William', which he flew on the DamBusters raid Photo: DixNoonanWebb/BNPS
Anyway, I have just discovered that the raid took place on my fourth birthday, so thanks for that, Les Munro and the rest of your comrades, it was the best birthday present I ever received - pity I didn't know about it at the time!