AJ-G THE DAMBUSTERS  (617 Squadron)

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Journey Home

At Grantham there was more congratulations for Wallis. Harris telephoned Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Charles Portal who was now in Washington with Prime Minister Winston Churchill to inform him of the success. Immediately afterwards Harris, Cochrane and Wallis left for Scampton to welcome home what was left of 617 squadron.

At the Eder Gibson ordered the crews of the remaining Lancasters to make their way home by the pre arranged escape routes. For most of them it was an uneventful journey home with the occasional searchlight or burst of flak. Two of the crews were not so lucky however.

Maudslay in AJ-Z who had been heard limping away from the Eder after being caught in the blast of the Upkeep had been believed to have crashed near the dam. It later emerged however that the damaged AJ-Z had flown on for another 45 minutes. 140 miles away from the Eder and half way to the coast Maudsaly was caught in light flak and at 0236 hours crashed at Emmerich just inside the German border. Maudslay and all of his crew perished in the crash.

Twenty minutes later Dinghy Young in AJ-A also ran into trouble. Young had flown to the Eder unarmed after weakening the Mohne with his Upkeep. He was acting as the deputy leader, ready to take over if anything happened to Gibson. Had Young left for home after attacking the Mohne things may have been different. However, Young had almost made it, he had reached the coast when he came under fire. Young's wingmen Maltby and Shannon had seen that he had been flying too high all night - maybe having trouble finding navigational landmarks. This may have been his undoing when he flew over the heavily defended coastal area north of Ijmuiden and was shot down by the flak batteries stationed there. AJ-A did clear the coast but plunged into the North Sea with the loss of all crew.

Henry Melvin Young was given the nick name 'Dinghy' Young after twice bailing out into the sea and being saved by his dinghy. He was not so lucky a third time.

Wreckage of AJ-A
Wreckage of AJ-A

The remaining Lancasters from the Eder landed at Scampton between 0311 and 0420 hours. Gibson touched down five minutes before the last man back Les Knight. On the return journey Gibson had seen an aircraft falling in flames over Hamm. Little did he know that it was Warner Ottley in AJ-C of the third reserve wave still on his way to the Lister dam. Knight was the eighth Lancaster back to Scampton, they would have to wait to see what had happened to the other elevenů

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