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Old 17th May 2007, 15:35   #1 (permalink)

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Idly perusing Wikipedia notice that today is the 64th anniversary of the Dams raid. I know a lot has been written about that raid, but I had never seen this Dambusters site before and thought it deserves a wider audience as it impressed me for the sober and respectful way it talks about 617 Squadron.
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Old 18th May 2007, 02:51   #2 (permalink)
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Well I went and read it
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Old 18th May 2007, 03:03   #3 (permalink)
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According to one recent TV programme it was Douglas Gibson VC who led the raid.
I expect the bouncing bomb was just a delivery system for tin legs to Guy Bader

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Old 18th May 2007, 06:05   #4 (permalink)
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Watched a great documentary on the Dambusters on PBS in the states. Brilliant bomb idea with a tricky implementation.

National Archives site and more here and a You Tube link.

I've also heard that there is a new motion picture in the works for release in 2008 about the 617.
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Old 17th Jul 2007, 10:32   #5 (permalink)
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Watched the Dambusters movie on Channel 4 last weekend. All reference to the 'N' word was edited out.

Now lets have it edited out of every RAP song, American movie and TV drama.


Thought not.

Freedom of speech, what a joke.
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Old 17th Jul 2007, 10:41   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by vapilot2004 View Post
I've also heard that there is a new motion picture in the works for release in 2008 about the 617.
Someone more cynical than I might wonder whether it features some fresh-faced Americans practising their runs in a B17 over the Hoover Dam in readiness for saving the world from the Nazis.

Note: comments are aimed at Hollywood not the US as a whole or their armed forces in case anyone out there is paranoid!!
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Old 17th Jul 2007, 12:12   #7 (permalink)
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The Cult of Personality

We went round Duxford a couple of months ago - and yes - the glazed screen around the American flight hall is a very eloquent memorial - but in the Battle of Britain Hall we were guided round by a very knowledgeable chap who had made iot his job to disabuse his visitor groups about some of the myths surrounding WWII

He totally debunked Mr Bader as a headstrung twerp who would not follow orders, and instead of defending the Midlands Group tore off to meet the Hun leaving the home counties landing strips he should have been defending open to German bombing, and therefore unavailable to returning crew when attacks got through.

He also commented on RAF raids that bombed Bermondsey instead of Amsterdam, barrage balloons that got more casualty bombers struggling home at low level than Germans on the attack and the fact that the Dresden raid could have been anywhere that had a moon that night.

Was he right - I don't know - but he came across as a master of his craft, well learnt and capable of putting it across! So if you visit - look out for the guide with the tin leg and squadron leader moustache
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Old 17th Jul 2007, 12:20   #8 (permalink)

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Bader was one of my boyhood heroes, until I met him when I was about 15.
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Old 17th Jul 2007, 12:28   #9 (permalink)
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Watched the Dambusters movie on Channel 4 last weekend. All reference to the 'N' word was edited out.

Why call it the "N" word? The dogs name was Nigger whether people like it or not. You can't change what it was called.

In the new version of the film they are talking about changing the dogs name. Never heard anything so stupid. It's time that these silly PC people disappeared up their own arse hole. They are pathetic.
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Old 17th Jul 2007, 14:20   #10 (permalink)
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A couple of obituaries (published a while ago) of Alex Ross, who was orderly to Bader while in Colditz. Sorry some of the detail is repeated.

Say everything about Bader.
Alex Ross
Seaforth Highlander who stayed in Colditz Castle to help the wartime ace Douglas Bader

Alex Ross was not a celebrity but became well known through his close wartime association with Wing Commander (later Group Captain Sir) Douglas Bader.

Forced to surrender at St Valery in June 1940, he was taken prisoner, having been wounded in the ankle.

In 1942, he was sent to a prison camp in Lamsdorf, Germany, where he was detailed to look after Wing Commander Bader, then beginning a ten-day spell in solitary confinement for trying to escape.

On completion of his period in “solitary”, Bader was warned that he was to be moved to Oflag IVC — Colditz Castle in Saxony. Ross offered to accompany him, but Bader told him that it would not be possible as Colditz was a “bad boys’ camp”. Nonetheless, at four the next morning Ross carried Bader’s bags on to a train for the journey. They arrived at Colditz railway station after dark on August 16, 1942, and were marched over the river and through the town up towards the castle. Bader could not manage the steepness of the last part of the cobbled hill, so Ross gave him his hand and pulled him along.

Ross’s duties in looking after Bader were certainly onerous. Each morning he carried him, without his artificial legs, on his back down a stone spiral staircase to a salt-water bath that had been prescribed to harden his leg stumps. After placing Bader in the bath he would wait outside, until it was time to lift him out of the bath and on to a stool to dry himself. He would then would carry him back up the stairs to the second-floor room Bader occupied in the senior officer’s quarters in the Saal Haus. Ross was short and found carrying Bader a struggle. Nine times out of ten, Bader had not fully dried himself, and so by the time the pair had reached Bader’s room, Ross would be soaking wet.

A room-mate of Bader, Major Will Anderson, formed a high opinion of Ross and wrote home in November 1942: “ He (Bader) He brought a most excellent man with him as batman, which makes all the difference in his case.”

In late 1943, Ross was handed a letter from the Red Cross by Hauptmann Püpcke, of the German staff of Colditz, informing him that he was to be repatriated, along with several other non- combatants. Delighted, Ross went up to Bader in the castle courtyard exclaiming: “I’m going home! I’ve got this letter”. “Oh no, you’re bloody not,” Bader retorted, in an exchange witnessed by a British officer. “You came here as my skivvy and that’s what you’ll stay.” Other Colditz prisoners said he should show the letter to the Senior British Officer and claim his rights, but it seems that he decided against this and remained in Colditz until released with the other prisoners in April 1945.

On the liberation by the US Army, Bader succeeded in hitching a lift with an American woman journalist and got back to England the next day. The rest of the ex-prisoners followed two days later. While on leave with his family in Tain, Ross was summoned to the local post office to take a long-distance telephone call from Bader. “Ross — did you bring back my spare legs?” Bader demanded. “No sir, the Americans would not allow us to bring anything back.” At this point Bader swore at Ross and put the phone down. This was the last occasion on which the two men spoke to each other.

Alex Ross, Seaforth Highlander, was born on August 14, 1917. He died on September 3, 2002, aged 86.

Alex Ross
(Filed: 23/09/2003)

Alex Ross, who has died aged 86, was Douglas Bader's medical orderly during their time at the German prisoner-of-war camp Oflag IVC, better known as Colditz Castle.

A bandsman in the Seaforth Highlanders who had been captured in France in 1940, Ross became Bader's orderly in 1942 at Stalag VIIIb (Lamsdorf), and volunteered to accompany him to Colditz.

In the autumn of 1943 Ross was approached by Hauptmann Pupcke, one of the German staff, and handed a letter from the Red Cross telling him that, as a non-combatant, he was being repatriated. Delighted at the prospect, Ross went up to Bader, who was in the yard at the time, and said, "I'm going home!" "No, you're bloody not," Bader retorted. "You came here as my skivvy and that's what you'll stay."

Ross remained at Colditz for a further 18 months until it was liberated. In later years former prisoners used to tell Ross that he should have shown his Red Cross letter to the senior British officer, Colonel Tod, and claimed his right to repatriation; but Ross, a quiet, patient, humorous man, seems to have decided against going over Bader's head in this way, and stuck with him to the end.

When the camp was finally liberated by American troops on April 16 1945, Bader succeeded in hitching a lift with an American woman journalist and got back to England the next day. The remainder of the PoWs packed their belongings in boxes and were flown back to Britain two days later; their baggage never arrived. After debriefing, Ross went to visit his family at Tain, on the Dornoch Firth, north of Inverness, and while there he was summoned to the Post Office to take a long-distance call from Douglas Bader.

The Battle of Britain hero wanted his spare pair of legs, and Ross had to explain that the Americans had not allowed them to bring anything back with them - in any case, Ross later insisted, there were no spare legs. Bader swore at Ross and put down the telephone on him. It was the last occasion on which Ross heard from Bader.

Alexander Ross, generally known as "Jock", was born on August 14 1917 at Tain, Ross and Cromarty. Joining the Army as a regular soldier, he became a bandsman/medical orderly in the Seaforth Highlanders.

The outbreak of war found him at Dover Castle, from where his battalion went to France with the rest of the 51st (Highland) Division, part of the British Expeditionary Force. Wounded in the ankle by a bullet above the cliffs at St Valery-en-Caux, Ross was captured on June 11 1940, a day before the remainder of the Division was forced to surrender.

After a painful march of many miles, Ross was treated at a hospital at Rouen - a former convent, one wing of which had been allocated to British prisoners. After he had recovered, Ross continued to work with the nuns who cared for the PoWs for almost two years.

In 1942 Ross was transferred to Stalag VIIIb, in Germany, where Bader was beginning a 10-day spell in solitary confinement, as punishment for an escape attempt during which he had disguised himself as being of another rank and managed to get into a working party near Gleiwitz.

When, shortly afterwards, Bader was transferred to Colditz, Ross volunteered to accompany him. Despite, or perhaps because of, his heroic qualities, Bader could be a difficult character. Although he devoted most of his energies to making life difficult for the Germans, life as his orderly was no picnic.

One of Ross's duties was to carry Bader "piggy-back" down a spiral staircase to a salt-water bath for the regular treatment to harden his stumps. After Bader had bathed, Ross would carry him over to a stool where the airman would sit and dry himself; Ross would then carry him back up the stairs to his second-floor room in the Castle's Saal Haus.
Ross was a small man and found transporting Bader a struggle; more often than not, Bader had not fully dried himself, so Ross would arrive at the room soaking wet. "Ross" in German means a noble horse, such as a knight would ride into battle - a fact which was not lost on Bader. On one occasion, going down for his bath, they encountered two German officers ascending. As he stopped to let them pass, Ross felt Bader's stumps digging into his sides, urging him on. The Germans, in recognition of Bader's superior rank, gave way.

Bader's later confusion about his spare legs is hard to explain. There had originally been a spare left leg, but it had not been possible to make a right one, the mould for the stump having been destroyed in an air raid on London.

When Bader's original left leg broke down, he was walking - on parole - in the countryside. Ross had been brought out under armed guard with the spare left leg. Bader, who had secreted thin bags of oatmeal, which he had traded for cigarettes, inside his trousers, did not want to be found out, and therefore proceeded to change his leg behind a bush. From then on, when the legs broke down, they were repaired in the village blacksmith's shop by Major W F Anderson, assisted by the blacksmith.

Besides attending to Bader, Ross played saxophone and clarinet in the camp orchestra under the direction of Lt-Col Jimmy Yule, Royal Signals, who operated the camp's secret wireless set.

After the war Ross stayed in the Army for a while as a dispatch rider, before taking up a job in a brickfield in Kent. After that he worked in an ironmonger's shop at High Brooms, Kent, until he was 84.

During the war, Ross had acquired a good knowledge of French and German, and often visited friends who ran a guest house in Germany. There he would help out serving the guests and was often taken for a German by English-speaking visitors. Ross liked to maintain the illusion for as long as possible, before offering them help with the menu in impeccable Scots-accented English.

He was a regular attender at Colditz Association reunions, and he became a firm friend of Dick Howe, the former escape officer for Colditz, who lived nearby.

Alex Ross, who died on September 3, is survived by a son. His wife and a daughter predeceased him.
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Old 17th Jul 2007, 14:30   #11 (permalink)
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barrage balloons that got more casualty bombers struggling home at low level than Germans on the attack
This is a well known fact. Barrage ballons certainly did account for more Allied aircraft losses than German, however, without them the Germans would have been able to conduct low level bombing raids over high value targets thus ensuring increased accuracy. As such they were a neccessary (and effective) evil.
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Old 17th Jul 2007, 14:42   #12 (permalink)
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With regard the word 'Nigger'.
Let us not put words behind bars. Where will we stop? Which words will we choose to outlaw? Which will be allowed and who has the right to say?
If it is pejorative but held in an inverted esteem by others it is a word that we can all use or misuse and it is how, why and where we chose to use it which defines who spoke it.
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Old 17th Jul 2007, 23:43   #13 (permalink)
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Bader & heroes

To go back a couple of posts for a sec - apologies - when working on a barge in Burgundy in 1994, my then wife came to stay during a week's refit.

We noticed an elderly Brit in a motor boat on his own, and invited him to dine with us.

Sadly I don't recall his name, but it turned out he was a Spitfire pilot, shot down early in the war and POW - later with Bader.

" Oh we all had a good word for Bader - but I can't use it in front of your wife ! "

He did point out the man was a brave warrior - though that seems about it.

I was told - by someone who was there - that on the day he was downed the groundcrew at Tangmere held a party...

Gainesy's comment reminded me of J.Clarkson's interview with Yeager - not as much of a prat, but doing quite well at it - " you're late ! " repeated endlessly, " The Spitfire is a pony-assed airplane ! "

Seems a good rule of thumb is that the ones who are quiet about their acheivments turn out by far the most admirable - I had the honour to fly as passengers , and talk a lot about photography & sailing with, the late Frank Bullen.

Frank had been invited to contribute to Don Middleton's ' Test Pilots ' but declined.

His many achievments included, after WW2, as a TP for Hawkers landing a Hunter with control restriction - ailerons jammed one way only, he had been told to get out over the sea - and I think it was him outflying attacking fighters when flying the King of Jordan's Dove...
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Old 18th Jul 2007, 03:58   #14 (permalink)
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Bob Stanford Tuck recalls in his memoirs that once when leaving a particularly heated meeting at Fighter Command HQ, he remarked to Sailor Mallan "I can't stand that man!" Sailor Mallan replied that if he wasn't like that he wouldn't be here. [Of course, if he wasn't "like that" he might still have had his legs!. The argument had been about arming the fighters with cannon. Bader had insisted upon retaining the eight machine guns. Given the tremendous knock-down capability of the later four cannon Hurricane IIc its not hard to imagine how effective it would have been against German bombers in the Battle of Britain. The Spitfire wing could only take one cannon each side but the twin cannon marks were much better at downing enemy aircraft than the earlier eight gun versions. A very bad decision forced through by the hard headed obstinacy of one man.

Bader worked out here in Borneo for the oil company now known as Shell before and after the war. His reputation in Borneo, where manners and courtesy are all important, is not good. It is one thing to deal roughly with subordinates and equals (while fawning to superiors) as a "warrior" but quite another when managing operations in a culturally diverse workforce.

Guy Gibson was from all accounts a very forceful and direct leader himself but his conduct over the dams, deliberately drawing fire from his subordinates on their bombing runs, is the mark of a true warrior. He was also prepared to listen to reason and cooperate when it came to new weapons...
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Old 18th Jul 2007, 04:22   #15 (permalink)
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Bader paid a visit to my school in the 50's
I believe it was to say hello to a little boy that had lost his legs in a haybaler accident
He was short
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Old 18th Jul 2007, 05:18   #16 (permalink)
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His many achievments included, after WW2, as a TP for Hawkers landing a Hunter with control restriction - ailerons jammed one way only, he had been told to get out over the sea - and I think it was him outflying attacking fighters when flying the King of Jordan's Dove...
Years ago there were two DH Doves in Australia which previously belonged to the Royal Jordanian Air Force. They were VH-ABM and VH-ABK and both sat for many years at Parafield until purchased by Col Pay. They moved to Scone supposedly as a source of engines for Pay's Fletchers. ABK I think was sacrificed for it's engines but ABM flew on for a few more years.
How many Doves did the RJAF have, I wonder if one of these two was the one you mention. I have a vague recollection of references to battle damage in the paperwork I saw on them.
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Old 18th Jul 2007, 06:02   #17 (permalink)
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A propos Double Zero's post # 13, Wing Commander Jock Dalgleish was the RAF officer with King Hussein in the RJAF Dove on 10 November 1958, when they were attacked by Syrian Migs. He had taught the King to fly. Jock was CFI at the Edinburgh Flying Club in the early 1960s, a man of many talents and interests. He bought one or more Austers, I think they were, some kind of high wing dragger anyway, which he leased to the club; and he also bought a butcher's shop and a greengrocer's shop. He was happy in any of the varied milieus, flying or supervising the lamb chops or ladling out a few pounds of potatoes for the old lady shoppers with whom he was a favourite. He had quite the sense of humour. I rolled up once to fly one of the Austers, not having flown for a year or two, and he said it would probably be wise to give me a quick solo check flight before I went off on my own. Made sense to me, so off we set on what turned out to be a full IFR ticket test, in actual IMC.
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Old 18th Jul 2007, 07:34   #18 (permalink)

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I met Bader at RAF Linton on Ouse in 1977. He came to present wings to 15 course, who were the last ones to gain their wings after basic flying training; after then wings weren't presented after advanced flying training. I must say, after having read and seen "Reach for the sky" he did have quite a reputation with all of us. However, I was quite disappointed by his terse arrogance - I had previously thought of him as the affable chap portrayed by Kenneth More in the film.
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Old 18th Jul 2007, 08:32   #19 (permalink)
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Removing the dog's name in the film at the weekend produced inane and incomprehensible scenes. After said dog was run over, the Guardsman simply came to Gibson, wobbled his mouth a few times and said, 'He's gone, Sir.'
Gibson read his mind and asked him to bury him just after midnight.
Just how PC has the establishment become in this stupid country?
The dog was named Nigger, long may he rest!
Did Honor Blackman get a letter from the PC brigade, I wonder?
For heaven's sake, leave a classic film alone and let those with small brains snigger when they hear the word nigger.
Oops, can't use snigger any more, it's got nigger in it!!!!
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Old 18th Jul 2007, 08:53   #20 (permalink)

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But of course the PC Brigade at Ch 4 didn't have the wit to censor the morse, which used the authentic name!

And have you read Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn lately ..... or have they been censored too?? Can't somehow see escaped slave Jim describing himself (hisself?) as an Afro-Caribbean American....
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