Led by Squadron Leader Guy Gibson, at precisely 21.39hrs, the first of nineteen Lancaster bombers – each carrying a massive Barnes Wallace-design bouncing bomb – lumbered down the grass runway at RAF Scampton and headed into the night. In three carefully planned waves, their targets were the mighty reservoir dams supplying vital electrical power to the munitions factories in the Rhur; the Möhne, Sorpe, Ennepe and, furthest to the East, the Eder. Such an audacious attack had never previously been attempted; nobody could forecast the outcome.
Photo-reconnaissance the following morning confirmed the Möhne and Eder dams had been breached, causing massive destruction of power stations, water and steel works, miles of overhead electrical cables, and severe flooding that brought factories and communications to a standstill throughout the area.
Robert Taylor pays tribute to the courage and selfless determination of 617 Squadron’s Dambuster crews, of which eight never returned with this dramatic pencil rendering. As his bouncing bomb scores a direct hit, Pilot Officer Les Knight powers his Lancaster over the Eder Dam, a huge deluge of water cascading over the fractured wall as he departs the scene.
Released as a remarkably restricted release, this pencil edition sold out immediately and has been difficult to find on the secondary market since. We have been able to acquire an Artist Proof, one of only TEN COPIES worldwide.
This print is signed in pencil by artist Robert Taylor, and individually hand-numbered together with SEVEN Dambuster pilots and aircrew who, between them, went to the Elder, Möhne, Sorpe and Ennepe Dams:
Sqn Ldr KEN BROWN CGM – Pilot of Lancaster AJ-F, he attacked the Sorpe Dam
Flt Lt GEORGE CHALMERS DFC DFM – Wireless Operator on Lancaster AJ-O, flown by Bill Townsend, they attacked the Ennepe Dam
Sgt RAY GRAYSTON – Flight Engineer of Les Knight’s Lancaster AJ-N, they attacked and successfully breached the Eder Dam
Sqn Ldr GEORGE JOHNSON MBE DFM – Bomb Aimer on Joe McCarthy’s Lancaster AJ-T, they scored a direct hit on the Sorpe Dam
Flt Sgt GRANT MCDONALD – Rear gunner on Lancaster AJ-F flown by Ken Brown, that attacked the Sorpe Dam
Sqn Ldr LES MUNRO CNZM DSO QSO DFC – Captain and pilot of Lancaster AJ-W assigned to attack the Sorpe Dam
Sgt FRED SUTHERLAND – Front gunner on Les Knight’s Lancaster AJ-N that successfully breached the Eder Dam
This Artist Proof – one of only ten copies ever issued – is additionally signed by three more iconic veterans of RAF Bomber Command:
Flt Lt BILL REID VC – a legendary Pilot with 617 Sqn he was awarded the Victoria Cross after a mission to Düsseldorf on 3 November 1943
Flt Lt BOB KNIGHTS DSO DFC – one of the most highly regarded Pilots in 617 Sqn, he flew on many of the unit’s most arduous missions, including the sinking of the Tirpitz.
Sqn Ldr NORMAN SCRIVENER DSO DFC AE – one of the RAF’s most respected Navigators he flew on Guy Gibson’s crew with 106 Sqn later becoming the Pathfinders’ lead Navigator
The print is conservation framed and matted to include the original pencil signatures of two more Dambusters plus the iconic Sir Arthur Harris:
Fl Off DAVE RODGER DFC – Rear Gunner in Joe McCarthy’s Lancaster AJ-T, that scored a direct hit on the Sorpe
Sgt STEFAN OANCIA DFM – Bomb Aimer on Ken Brown’s Lancaster AJ-F, that attacked the Sorpe
MRAF SirARTHUR “BOMBER” HARRISBT GCB OBE – Commander in Chief of Bomber Command during WWII.
This is an edition that is rarely seen these days and has become extremely sought after, so this stunning piece represents the perfect tribute to this legendary mission – a historic collector’s item!