Tribute to The Dambusters hit by health and safety

Derwent Dam at the 65th anniversary tribute to the Dambusters crew
Derwent Dam at the 65th anniversary tribute to the Dambusters crew
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It’s been exactly 70 years since the legendary Dambusters raid - which vitally crippled German industry in the Second World War.

And now, seven decades on, public tributes to the brave crew have been halted in their tracks - by healthy and safety.

At 1pm today, the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will come thundering down the Derwent Valley in Derbyshire and strafe the Derwent Dam - just as Commander Guy Gibson and his crew did on dangerous training missions all those years ago.

But sadly, few veterans and members of the public will be there to witness it as Severn Trent Water, which owns the dam, and other public sector stakeholders, have decreed that heavy traffic on country lanes would pose an unacceptable threat to the emergency services.

Despite the 65th anniversary event at the dam going without a hitch, the risk has been assessed as too great this year.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous, do they think we’re all going to fall into the water?” asked Mary Stopes-Roe, whose father Barnes Wallis was the mastermind behind the raid’s ‘bouncing bombs.’

It was Wallis who, in 1943, came up with the plan to take out certain enemy dams with a bomb that would bounce across the water and explode with enough force to crack the dam walls, causing devastating collateral damage.

Of 19 planes which set out on the mission, eight were shot down. 53 out of 133 men never made it home. The cost was terrible, but the resulting mud, water and rubble which crashed through Germany’s industrial heartland caused more damamge to military production and morale than months of bombing raids.

A spokesman for the Royal Air Force said: “There will be no events on the ground today and no tickets issued. The aircraft will continue on to carry out a flypast at Chatsworth at 13:20, which is an excellent viewing area for the general public as there are facilities in place for parking and spectators wishing to photograph the aircraft.

“Parking will be restricted and will be allocated on first come, first served basis. The road up from Fairholmes to Derwent Dam will be closed to all traffic on the day and the road from the A57 to Fairholmes may be closed if it becomes overly busy, such that access to emergency vehicles etc is compromised.

“These flypasts will form part of several events taking place across the country – culminating in a commemorative service at Lincoln Cathedral tomorrow.”