Dambuster heroes ‘reunited’ in portrait exhibition honour

The Mohne Dam in North Rhine-Westphalia after being bombed by the No. 617 Squadron of the RAF, better known as the Dambusters, during Operation Chastise. Picture: Keystone/Getty Images
The Mohne Dam in North Rhine-Westphalia after being bombed by the No. 617 Squadron of the RAF, better known as the Dambusters, during Operation Chastise. Picture: Keystone/Getty Images
0
Have your say

The Scottish contribution to the most famous air raid in history will come under the spotlight at an exhibition of portraits commemorating its 75th anniversary.

The Dambusters’ raid – code name Operation Chastise – in the early hours of 17 May 1943 saw 133 Allied aircrew flying 19 Lancaster bombers on night missions to drop Sir Barnes Wallis’s revolutionary “bouncing bombs” on three major dams in the Ruhr valley in western Germany which supplied water and power.

Scottish Dambusters reunited with the squadron for historic 'Dambusters Reunited exhibition.

Scottish Dambusters reunited with the squadron for historic 'Dambusters Reunited exhibition.

Now the Dambusters Reunited exhibition, featuring 133 portraits of the airmen by Welsh artist Dan Llywelyn Hall, will take place in Lincoln, the home of the Dambusters at RAF Scampton on 13 May at the International Bomber Command Centre.

The portraits include ten Scottish airmen, and a further two who were born in Scotland and emigrated to Canada before the Second World War.

The men were George Gregory from Govan in Glasgow; Robert Henderson from Tarbrax, Lanarkshire; John Kinnear from Fife; Grant Rumbles from Kirtlebridge in Dumfriesshire; Alastair Taylor from Duffus, Morayshire; Charles Jarvie from Glasgow; Richard Macfarlane from Glasgow; Thomas Johnstone from Bellshill, Lanarkshire; George Chalmers from Peterhead, Aberdeenshire; Robert Paterson, from Edinburgh; George Deering, originally from Kirkintilloch and James McDowell, born in Govan, before emigrating.

The exhibition will be unveiled by squadron leader George “Johnny” Johnson, 96, the final surviving Dambuster who was awarded an MBE last year in the Queen’s Birthday Honours after a campaign to get him a knighthood.

Llywelyn Hall said the idea for the exhibition came to him while he was working on a portrait of Mr Johnson and realised the 75th anniversary was approaching.

“When Johnny began to tell me about his crew I was completely entranced and thought about how I could ‘reunite’ him with all the men who would have been together for the last time when Barnes Wallis gave them the briefing before the raid.

“The whole event is part of our folklore and I thought about how to honour them and what they did on that momentous night.

“They had crews of seven and I know that on one of the flights there were three Scots flying in one plane. I wonder about the camaraderie that night and what they said to one another.”

The exhibition will go on display in London following its unveiling in Lincoln.

Fifty-three airmen were killed in the raid.