AJ-G THE DAMBUSTERS  (617 Squadron)

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Forming a Squadron

Now that plans to implement Chastise were in place, a squadron would be needed to fly the mission.

At the time 5 Group was the only one flying Lancaster bombers. The squadron would have to come from within this group, as they were they only one with Lancaster experience. Finding a squadron from within the group would be a problem. Harris was reluctant to withdraw a whole Lancaster squadron from the main force for the duration of the dams mission. A new squadron would have to be formed made up of tour-served crews who would be coming off ops having completed their set number of missions.

Guy Penrose Gibson of 106 squadron was chosen to form and lead this new squadron because of his formidable operational record and reputation for seeing through a task due to his leadership skills and strict discipline. He was asked to do this one more operation after completing his tour with 106 squadron. He agreed to undertake the operation with no idea of what was being asked. Chastise was top secret. The new squadron would be 617 Squadron later becoming known as 'The Dambusters'.

Guy Penrose Gibson: DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar
Guy Penrose Gibson: DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar

Unusually, Gibson had the authority to pick his own crews. They would have to be experienced veterans who had completed or nearly completed two tours. However, although many believe that 617 squadron was formed from the very best, highly decorated pilots and aircrew in the allied force, this was far from the truth. The majority of the squadron had no decorations at all and instead of having flown two tours, some were only one third of the way through their first tour. For some of the flight engineers, the dams raid was their first operational sortie. Gibson personally knew very few of the men including his own crew. Only Flight Lieutenant Bob Hutchinson, a radio operator had flown regularly with Gibson at 106 squadron. They had finished their tour together.

617 Squadron Crest
617 Squadron Crest

617 Squadron Details

The new squadron would share RAF Scampton with resident 57 squadron.

Now that the squadron had been formed, training could begin. This was crucial, as the crews would have to learn to fly to extreme limits in order to carry out the attacks on the dams.


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