A LANCASTER bomber swooped over a Peak District reservoir to mark the 65th anniversary of the Dambusters raid.
The historic Lancaster – similar to the one used by the RAF’s 617 Squadron to successfully bomb two German dams in 1943 – flew three times along the Derwent valley as the centrepiece of a thrilling fly-past.
And among the crowds was a Huddersfield man with more reasons than most to remember the event.
Andrew Wallis, a musician from Huddersfield, 46, is the grandson of Sir Barnes Wallis, the aircraft engineer who devised and planned the raids.
He said: “We’re very humbled in thinking that all these people lost their lives so that we could be here today.
“My grandfather was always very upset about what happened, how many of the pilots and air crew died. It pained him for the rest of his life, that he felt in some way responsible.
“I’m trying to suppress my emotions in some way otherwise I would end up bursting into tears.
“For me, it’s the humbling side of it and the fact that I feel some small part of it all. It takes great people to keep everything going. Humanity as a whole is so fragile.
“When the Lancaster went over, it was very exhilarating, the sound, the history.”
After the wreaths were laid at exactly 10.30am, the Lancaster bomber came into view at the top of the Derwent Valley and flew low at 100ft in between the two towers of the dam. It then banked away before circling to return over the dam again.
On its third fly-past it was accompanied by two Tornado planes from today’s 617 Squadron.
After its final fly-past, a Spitfire and a Hurricane flew over the dam and finally a Dakota transport plane flew past as hundreds of air enthusiasts and servicemen and women watched.
The Derwent dam was used by the Dambusters to train ahead of their mission to destroy three dams in Germany’s Ruhr valley.
Yesterday Squadron Leader Les Munro, the last surviving pilot from the mission codenamed Operation Chastise, was one of the guests of honour attending the service.
As the distinctive roar of the Lancaster’s engines echoed across the lake, Sqn Ldr Munro joined enthusiasts to relive memories of the daring raid, which used the celebrated “bouncing bomb” invented by Barnes Wallis.
Sqn Ldr Munro was accompanied by Michael Gibson, the nephew of Wing Commander Guy Gibson, who led the raid.
During the service 88-year-old Richard Todd, who played Guy Gibson in the 1955 film The Dam Busters, laid poppies on the water.
On May 16 1943, 19 aircraft set out to destroy three dams in the Ruhr valley – the Mohne, the Eder and the Sorpe – and so damage a vital source of power to the key industrial area of Germany.
The mission was hailed a success after the Mohne and Eder were breached. But eight aircraft and 53 crew were lost during the raids.