Trenchard Lecture: The Dambuster Legend in Wartime Britain at the Royal Aeronautical Society


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Royal Air Force Museum, London

Grahame Park Way Colindale
London
Greater London
NW9 5LL
England

Victoria Taylor will discuss '"Dam'ping Their Ardour": Operation Chastise and the "Dambusters" legend in wartime Britain'. In particular, Victoria will consider why Operation Chastise became a cornerstone of British wartime mythology, and determine how it became so firmly entrenched in the hearts and minds of the British public under the blanket of wartime secrecy. This lecture will be held at the Royal Aeronautical Society at 6.00pm on 8 October 2020. Tea and Coffee will be available beforehand. Talk Outline Few wartime tales stir national pride and historical reverence in Britain like Operation CHASTISE. Better known as the ‘Dambusters Raid’, this death-defying operation was undertaken between 16-17 May 1943 by Bomber Command’s 617 Squadron. Nineteen Lancaster bombers successfully destroyed two major dams - and damaged a third – in the heartland of Nazi Germany’s industrial Ruhr Valley. The familiar story of Barnes Wallis, his ‘bouncing bomb’ and Wing Commander Guy Gibson’s low-flying Lancasters has often been eagerly recounted by British historians. Much of the nation’s general impressions of the raid, however, have been coloured by post-war British popular culture, from Gibson & Paul Brickhill’s stirring literary accounts to Michael Anderson’s enduring film The Dam Busters (1955). The considerable impact of these post-war resources upon the CHASTISE legend can be seen in how Flight Sergeant William ‘Bill’ Townsend claimed that ‘until that film was made, it was just another operation, wasn’t it?’ This talk seeks to illustrate how the Dambusters Raid was never ‘just another operation’ in wartime Britain. Drawing on newspapers, newsreels, cartoons and official correspondence will aid this endeavour. The Daily Express, for instance, obtained an exclusive inside scoop on Gibson from his glamorous actress wife, Evelyn, in the vein of present-day celebrity gossip; the first investiture held by a Queen since the Victorian era saw the newly decorated Dambusters splashed across British newspapers at both local and national level. The Royal Air Force’s 5 Group News punned that 617 Squadron was ‘dam’ping [the Nazis’] ardour’, yet it also naively called for its personnel to press on ‘in this final phase’ of the war. Temporarily isolating the Dambusters Raid from its post-war aura allows us to consider why it became a cornerstone of British wartime mythology, and to determine how it became so firmly entrenched in the hearts and minds of the British public under the blanket of wartime secrecy. Location The lecture will be held at the Royal Aeronautical Society on Thursday 8 October 2020. Please note this lecture will begin at 6pm (with Tea and Coffee provided from 5.30pm). TICKETS This lecture is free of charge however we do ask that you pre-book a free ticket as seats are limited.

For more information on this event: https://royalairforcemuseum.digitickets.co.uk/category/23716

Further information

Upcoming event dates:

  • Thursday 8th October 2020 17:30 - 21:00

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