Sunday, 29 September 2013

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Some highlights from Dambusters2013 .... a taster for 2014.

If this is your first introduction to 'Dambusters' here are some highlights for you to enjoy from last year ..... a top ride .... a top bunch of riders ....... and a top welcome and commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Dams Raid, May 1943. .... and about £14,000 raised for charity too ...... roll on 2014!!!

Our Launch Event hosted by RAF Scampton and the 'real' Dambusters 617 Squadron who laid on a fantastic set of flypasts with the Tornado fast jets!!
 Some poignant visits along the way .....
 Our arrival and welcome at the Mohne Dam by the local biking community from around the Mohne was extra-ordinary and lead by the Mayor and Vice-Mayor. Indeed the Vice-Mayor lead the joint Anglo-German Ride Out around the Mohnesee in the afternoon. Top bloke indeed.
 We were also allowed to ride down to the foot of the Mohne Dam itself, a privilege not normally allowed even for locals.
 .... and then at Midnight to coincide with the actual anniversary of when the Lancasters went into the attack the local Mayor gave Dambusters2013 the unique opportunity to ride our bikes across the famous Mohne Dam itself as part of the joint Anglo-German commemoration before joining us to lay wreaths on the waters of the Mohnesee itself to remember all the lives lost as a result of the dams Raid. It was just the coolest evening and night imaginable.
 The following morning it was calm, serene and beautiful. Very difficult to reconcile with what the view would have been like in 1943 on the same morning, 17th May, when a 100 yard wide breach in the dam would have been dominating the view!
 Finally, the Dambusters Riders at the foot of the Mohne Dam - 16th May 2013. Thanks to all who took part - an amazing event which we will do our best to top in 2014.
The website for Dambusters2014 will launch in January 2014. Just keep the 17th - 19th September free ..... and you'll need you passport too - we're going to Arnhem!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Early thoughts on the route for 'Dambusters2014'....

In Dambusters2014 the intention is to follow the route taken by the Dakota piloted by Flt Lt David Lord on 19th September 1944 on his ill fated but staggeringly brave mission as part of the desperate attempts to re-supply the airborne troops holding positions in and around Arnhem.

We know the route that he took from the Operations Record Book of 271 Sqdn which notes that "The route was similar to that used for the glider tug on D + 1."

It also recalls the sad facts that 2 aircraft failed to return, one of which was Flt Lt David Lord's.

As an approximation the route noted in the image above looks like this with the original take off from RAF Down Ampney:

A good ride out for the dambusters2014 riders with lots to stop and see en-route to our final destinations around Arnhem!! Lots more details to follow in the New Year .... just trying to get you interested for now. So spread the word - we need all the riders we can get!!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Flt Lt David Lord VC ......

The Dambusters2014 Charity Motorcycle Ride will focus onto the 70th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden (A bridge too Far) and specifically the Victoria Cross won by Flt Lt David Lord of 271 Sqdn on 19th September 1944.

More details will be available when we launch our website in January 2014 but it will follow the same format as did the ride in 2013. An event at the start, a brilliant ride following the flight path of Flt Lt Lord with lots of great stop offs and places to visit en-route and an event at Arnham within the wider commemorations on 19th September 2014 to finish ..... with shedloads of cash raised for charity as well.

A short bit of information is set out below about Flt Lt Lord VC - like many who gave their everything in the war, a quite staggeringly brave man.

Unit : 271 Squadron, 46 Group
Service No. : 49149
Awards : Victoria Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross
Born on 18th October 1913, in Cork, Southern Ireland, Flight Lieutenant "Lummy" Lord was a distinguished 31 year old Dakota pilot with 271 Squadron, who flew resupply missions to Arnhem. He had previously flown similar missions using DC3's with 31 Squadron in India, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, and Burma. In July 1943, his extensive service record was mentioned in dispatches, and he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
On Tuesday 19th September 1944, while on the final approach to the drop zones and only three minutes away from them, heavy anti-aircraft fire tore into the wave of slow moving supply aircraft. Lord's plane received two hits on the starboard wing and the engine on that side burst into flames. At such a low height there was no way to extinguish such a fire, and so the only real option in such a situation would be to abandon the attempt to drop supplies and bail out before the fuel tanks exploded. However Lord refused to do so, and kept flying true and steady to make sure he dropped his supplies on target. With his aircraft clearly in dire trouble, Lord was singled out for attention by most every German anti-aircraft gun in the vicinity. He continued on his path and reached the drop zone. After completing his run, Lord was informed by his calm and highly disciplined crew (three RAF personnel and four Army despatchers) that two canisters of supplies still remained. Lord turned the aircraft around for a second pass over the dropping zone, still under intense fire. When all the supplies were at last dropped, and the aircraft had descended to the perilously low height of only 500 feet, Lord cried to his men "Bail out! Bail out! For God's sake, bail out!", while making absolutely no effort to do so himself. A few seconds later, the starboard wing exploded and the plane crashed in flames into the ground, just north of the Reijers-Camp farm on LZ-S. There was only one survivor, Flying Officer Harry King, who was blown out of the side door when the engine exploded. King himself landed in no man's land between the British and Germans, but he managed to find the 10th Battalion and stayed with them until eventually captured.
The sight of Lord's crippled aircraft was witnessed by troops on the ground, who were so mesmerized by this single plane that they stood up in their trenches to will it on. They were all highly moved, in some cases to tears, by this tremendous display of courage and self sacrifice on their behalf. With flames licking wildly under the fuselage, many men were pleading with the crew to jump, but they would not, and instead the despatchers were seen to be continually throwing out more supply containers until the wing collapsed.
From the point that the engine caught fire to the moment of the crash, Flight Lieutenant Lord flew his Dakota, steadily while under very heavy anti-aircraft fire, for a total of 8 minutes. For his suicidal bravery and single-minded determination to get the supplies to those who needed it, David Lord was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. The great tragedy of this story was that the supply dropping zones had been overrun by German troops. Due to the radio blackout, the RAF knew nothing of this, and so David Lord and his men gave their lives desperately trying to drop cargo that would end up in the hands of the enemy.
DC3 K374

A brief memory of my ride for Dambusters2013 .....

Have a quick look at this - not the best video or editing but it gives you a flavour of my Dambusters2013 Charity Ride.... it was a brilliant, poignant few days with a great set of riders all the way from RAF Scampton to the Mohne Dam, an amazing reception at the Dam by the locals and night of remembrance to follow. After that, a personal pilgrimage to the Sorpe to see where why my friend and hero 'Johnny' Johnson won his DFM as bomb aimer on Joe McCarthy's Lancaster AJ-T on 17th May 1943. The video gives you a quick insight to events at the Mohne Dam, 16th/17th May 2013.

Fancy some of this?

Watch out for the launch of the Dambusters2014 website in January 2014!!!

In 2014 we are supporting the RAF Benevolent Fund, Motorcycle Outreach and their project Precious Cargo.

It is going to be epic!

Monday, 16 September 2013

In 2014 our primary charity will be the RAF Benevolent Fund ....

The Royal Air Force has a proud tradition of looking after its own. The RAF Benevolent Fund is the RAF’s leading welfare charity and is an extension of that tradition.
Airplay at RAF Northolt

"The RAF Benevolent Fund is part of the conscience of the British nation." Winston Churchill.
Since our foundation in 1919, we have been there, through thick and thin, supporting the RAF family. We are there for all serving and former members of the RAF as well as their partners and dependent children.

Why we exist

We have three main goals, or charitable objects. These are the reasons that we exist as a charity.
  1. The first is to maintain and preserve the RAF Memorial in London on behalf of the nation.
  2. The second is to provide assistance to the RAF family, when they are in need.
  3. The third is to support the morale and wellbeing of the serving RAF.
We are also responsible for the new Bomber Command Memorial in central London.

What we do

We provide a spectrum of care, supporting everyone from children growing up on RAF stations, to those serving today to keep our skies safe, to the veterans who fought for our freedom.
It could be supporting a Second World War pilot in later life, supporting the widow and children of an RAF reservist killed in action, or providing practical help to a young RAF Regiment gunner injured in Afghanistan.
We also run a range of innovative projects and services including:
We spend over £22 million each year supporting over 68,000 people, and we rely on you to make it all happen.

How we are funded

We are an independent charity and we receive no government funding. We rely entirely on your support to continue our work. We work hard to keep our overheads low – 88 pence in every pound donated goes directly to support the RAF family.