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No. 617 Squadron Royal Air Force in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- No. 617 Squadron Royal Air Force during the Second World War -

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No. 617 Squadron Royal Air Force

   No 617 Squadron was formed at Scampton on 21st March 1943. It included personnel from the RCAF, the RAAF and RNZAF and was formed specifically to attack three dams, the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe, on the Ruhr (Operation Chastise, 17th may 1943). The squadron developed tactics to use the bouncing bomb.

No 617 continued its target marking and precision bombing roles, including the use of ground-penetrating earthquake bombs on concrete U-boat shelters, bridges and canals. A staging base was established in Russia for No 9 and 617 to successfully attack the Tirpitz which was based in northern Norway and was damaging Arctic convoys. Several books have described No 617's operations including The Dambusters Raid by John Sweetman.

Airfields No. 617 Squadron flew from:

  • RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire from 21st March 1943 (formed. Lancaster I, Lancaster III)
  • RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire from 30th August 1943
  • RAF Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire from 10th January 1944 (Mosquito VI)
  • RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire from 17th June 1945


13th Feb 1944 

24th Jun 1944 617 Squadron Lancaster lost

12th November 1944 Ship Targeted

If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.

Those known to have served with

No. 617 Squadron Royal Air Force

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Blanche J. J.. W/O.
  • Blundell Harold Mclenon. Sgt.
  • Cook Charles Smith. F/Sgt. (d.27th Nov 1943)
  • Gibson Guy Penrose. Wing Cdr. (d.19th Sep 1944)
  • Henderson Stanley James. Sgt.
  • Moore Philip. Flt.Sgt. (d.15th/16th Sep 1943)
  • Reid Matthew William. F/Sgt.
  • Stephenson George.
  • Stephenson George.
  • Webb Robert John.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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Sgt. Stanley James "Chick" Henderson DFM. 57 Sqdn

I was posted to 57 Sqdn with my crew. I was the flight engineer in Jan 1944. The other crew members were J. Castagnola, pilot; J. Gorringe, navigator; N. Evans; B.A.W Eaves Wireless Operator; T. Craig, Mid Upper; J. Ronald, Rear Gunner.

We flew 15 ops starting with three trips to Berlin in four days and ending with Nuremberg on the 31 March. After the first three ops we were given our own aircraft 'B' baker - this was great. However on the Nuremberg trip we were badly shot up by two Ju 88 night fighters and on return the maintenance did all they could - changed the wing section behind the rear spar and all four engines, but it still wouldn't climb or fly decently and was converted to a squadron hack.

We then got the oportunity to go to 617 squadron for a Special 'D' day op - Operation Taxable. We wanted to stay with 617, but 57 said we were only loaned to 617 so back we went to 57 where from the 14th July to the 2nd August we flew another 13 ops. on a variety of targets. Railways, V1 and V2 sites, troops etc. On completion of these trips we had discharged our obligation to 57 and volunteered to return to 617 where we stayed till the end of the war.

Stan Henderson

Robert John Webb 617 Squadron

My father, Robert John Webb, will be 84 years old this year and we are taking him for a visit to RAF Scampton, Lincoln as a surprise where he was stationed in his teens in 1944-1945, as ground crew with 617 Squadron

If you re-call my father could you please let me know.

Judy Atkins

F/Sgt. Matthew William Reid 619 Sqn.

I am afraid I do not have a story to give as Dad, Matthew Reid spoke very little of the war. What he tell me was that he had great friends, a great crew, and flew on a beautiful aircraft. I do know that some of the crew were South African. I have his log book and knew that he flew all missions with Lt (later Capt) Meter with the exception of one mission - Operation Dresden, where he flew with a F/Lt Willets. He flew 28 missions in total. He was with 1654 HCU from 26 Jun 44 - 20 Aug 44; No5 LFS 01 Sep 44 - 17 Sep 44; 619 Sqn from 17 Sep 44 - 26 May 45; and 617 Sqn from 26 May 45 - 20 Jul 45. That is all the information I have.

Heather Landry

Sgt. Harold Mclenon "Nobby" Blundell MID. 463 Squadron

Nobby Blundell was born in Blundell's Cottage in Canberra in 1914. lthough a qualified mechanic he was also a wheat farmer at Weethalle (near West Wylaong) in New South Wales when he was called up in January 1940. His preliminary training was at Richmond near Sydney and then Ascot Vale in Melbourne as a Fitter 2E after which he traveled to the UK and joined 456 RAAF Nightfighter Squadron on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales.

In September 1942 he was remustered as a Flight Sergeant but a plane crash rendered him unfit for operational duties and he returned to 456 Squadron. In early 1943 he joined 617 Squadron for special duties. 617 Squadron were the Dam Busters and Nobby flew with the Lancasters during test drops of their bombs. On the night of 16/17 May 1943 617 Squadron attacked the Mohne and Eder dams causing considerable damage in Germanyís industrial centres in the Ruhr valley. Nobby Blundellís role was to redesign the undercarriage of the Lancaster so it was able to carry the drum type bombs.

In November 1943 he was posted to 463 Squadron which was based at Waddington in England as a Sergeant Engine Fitter. He was Mentioned in Despatches for his work during the D-Day operations in June 1944 and in October 1944 Blundell was sent to Russia to service Lancaster bombers attempting to sink the German raider, Tirpitz.

After the war he ran a motor engineering business in Sydney until he retired in 1974 to live in Dubbo. He self-published five books on 467 and 463 Squadrons and was awarded a Medal in the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1995 for services to war veterans. He later moved to Cairns but died in Hervey Bay, Queensland on 13 September 2003.

Flt.Sgt. Philip Moore 617 Sqd. (d.15th/16th Sep 1943)

My uncle Philip Moore was the Flight Engineer who flew with pilot Ralph Allsebrook, DSO DFC in Lancaster EE130, which was shot down by flak on the Dortmund Ems canal raid in September 1943. The crew had formerly been with 49 Squadron and had volunteered to join 617 in June 1943 to replace those lost on the Dams raid.
Karen Moore

W/O. J. J. "Paddy" Blanche 227 Squadron

Lancaster mid-upper gunner Paddy Blanche was from Northern Ireland. Having completed a tour of operations in N Africa, he joined 83 Pathfinder Squadron in 1944 before transferring in June 1944 to 617 (Dambusters) Squadron. Subsequently Paddy served in 227 squadron and was discharged on 12th December 1945. He died in London in the 1970s. Part of his service is recorded by Clayton Moore in his book Lancaster Valour

George Stephenson 619 Sqdn.

George Stephenson was a navigator who survived the war. He may have been with 619, 617 or 83 Squadrons. We know he was at Woodhall and at Wyton. He completed his service, we believe, as a navigator instructor, possibly in Canada. If you have any information about George please contact me.

Des Evans

F/Sgt. Charles Smith "Chick" Cook 617 Sqdn. (d.27th Nov 1943)

I am looking for any members of 617 and 619 Squadrons who remember my uncle, Charles Smith Cook. He was often called "Chick" or because of his boxing, the "brown bomber". My father told me that that sometime between 1940 and 1943 there was a photo of Charlies' crew and the Lancaster printed in an Edinburgh newspaper. They were standing in front of the plane along with the Lord Provost of Edinburgh. I would love to hear from anyone that has memories of my uncle or any of the families of his fellow crew members listed below. If anyone could be kind enough to find the photo I have mentioned I would be so grateful. I'd like to be able to show it to my father, Charlies' brother.

DV381 619Sqdn Lancaster BI PG-B Took off ofr Berlin from Woodhall Spa at 17:22 on the 26th of November 1943. Believed to have crashed into the sea.

  • Pilot F/Lt Ronald David Rayment 50657 V. Buried in Becklingen War Cemetery.
  • F.Engr Sgt Martin John Lynch 904871 V. Buried in Becklingen War Cemetery.
  • Nav F/O John Kellett 129552 V. Commemorated on the Royal Air Forces Memorial, Runnymede.
  • B/Aim Sgt William Archibald 1344176 V. Commemorated on the Royal Air Forces Memorial, Runnymede.
  • W/Op F/Sgt John Thomas Richards 1271196 V. Commemorated on the Royal Air Forces Memorial, Runnymede. Panel 138
  • AG F/SgtCharles Smith Cook 1351535 V. Commemorated on the Royal Air Forces Memorial, Runnymede.Panel 135
  • AG F/Sgt Joseph Arthur Fowler 1394170 V. Commemorated on the Royal Air Forces Memorial, Runnymede. Panel 136

Tricia Cook-Bosnell

George Stephenson RAF Wyton

We are trying to locate any one who knew a RAF Navigator named George Stephenson. We know he was stationed at Wyton in Huntingdonshire and also at Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire. It's possible he was with either 619, 617 or 83 Squadron. He finished his tour of ops and we believe he finished up as a instructor of navigation in Canada before being demobbed.

Des Evans

Recomended Reading.

Available at discounted prices.

Dambusters: A Landmark Oral History

Max Arthur

An event from WW2 that many will know about, however this book takes you into the very centre of the events as those who took part in or supported the mission whether air crew, ground crew, as well as Barnes Wallis. It also includes a chapter of accounts of those who were on the receiving end of the attack. The book is gripping from the start and was difficult to put down. Even more remarkable is the age of many who took part, the leaer Wing Co Gibson was in his mid 20's and others much younger. Yet without the modern gizzmo's we take for granted they showd a level of xommitment in the face of danger that is rarely seen in today's society. The mission was deemed a success, yet thios can overlook the fact that many paid the ultimate sacrifice. A book that you should have on your bookshelf.


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