Talk Report

6 new members were welcomed by new Chairman Bill Blades at the first meeting of the 2012-13 season. Veteran life member Reg Jackson received a round of applause as he had recently celebrated his 99th birthday. Our speaker Terry Frazier returned with the second part of his German talk about the Dam Busters and the Great Escape, which followed a holiday in the country recently. Both stories are familiar to most of us because of the war films of the 50s and 60s but Terry’s clear exposition emphasised some things which some of us did not know or had forgotten. Bomber Harris for example described Barnes Wallis’s idea of the bouncing bomb as “tripe of the wildest description” but was over-ruled by Churchill who wanted to cripple German industry.  Actually the breaching of the Eder and Mohne dams was repaired much more quickly than expected but 24000 German troops were diverted from building the Atlantic Wall which greatly helped the Allies on D-day. The Great Escape was organised by Allied POWs at Sagan (now Zagan), now a museum and a partial re-creation. The ingenuity of the men under Roger Bushell was amazing; they built a 330 foot tunnel complete with primitive air conditioning. Sadly the tunnel did not quite reach far enough. Only 3 escaped and 50 were executed on Hitler’s orders including Bushell. Similarly 53 young airmen did not return from the Dambusters raid.  We enjoyed an excellent presentation but also left reflecting on the sad waste of life which was involved.

 John Taylor

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