Dambusters Movie: Richard Thorp Front right

BBC Two, has commissioned a one-off live programme to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters Raid. The Dambusters: 70 Years On will be presented by Dan Snow and will air on Thursday the 16th of May.

Exactly 70 years earlier, in 1943, 19 Lancaster Bombers took off from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire. Their mission: to fly as low as 60 feet above the ground, at night, into heavily defended enemy territory and drop their newly invented bouncing bombs onto three vital dams, the Möhne, Eder and Sorpe, with the intention of destroying the industrial heart of German war production.

Dan Snow says: “The ‘Dambuster’ raid is certainly the most famous single British air raid of all time. The scale of the ambition, the genius of its many, varied participants, the breathtaking skill of the aircrews, and the impact on Germany’s war machine have all ensured that it holds a special place in the minds of people across Britain and the Commonwealth. It continues to be the inspiration for films, books and programmes 70 years after the lumbering Lancaster bombers took off from RAF Scampton. It is an incredible honour to be involved in a programme to mark this important anniversary, meet the few remaining survivors, and remember the sacrifice of those, on both sides, caught up in the horrors of the Second World War.”

To commemorate one of the most daring bombing raids of the Second World War and the courage of the 133 men who undertook it, the programme will come live from RAF Scampton.

In the programme, Dan will talk to the daughter of Sir Barnes Wallis, the inventor of the bouncing bomb, veterans Johnny Johnson and Les Munroe, and Tornado pilots from today’s 617 Squadron.

Earlier in the day, Dan will be on board the UK’s last flying Lancaster Bomber. During the broadcast, Tornado jets from the current 617 Squadron, two Spitfires from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Lancaster will fly in to RAF Scampton, display and land. The College Band of the RAF will play the iconic Dambusters March, and the programme will end with a short Sunset Ceremony.

Richard Thorp, who appeared as Squadren Leader Henry Maudslay in the 1954 Dambusters movie told ATV in 1966, “While filming the Dambusters one afternoon a lady came up to me as I was leaving the studios. I thought it was odd that anyone would want my autograph – I wasn’t that well known at that time. She passed me a photo, and I thought ‘goodness where did she get this, I don’t recall it’ ..it turns out it was a photo of Henry Maudslay, and she was his mother. She wanted to see who was playing her son, it brought me to tears.”

[Pictured, the Dambusters movie starring Emmerdale’s Richard Thorp (front right)]

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