Dambusters Given Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving
A Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving took place at Lincoln Cathedral Friday, 17th May to remember and honour the lives of those who served in No: 617 Squadron, better known as the “Dambusters”, on the 70th anniversary of the Squadron’s momentous raid on the Ruhr valley dams of Nazi Germany. The congregation was more than 1,500 strong and included 617 Squadron veterans Les Munro & Johnny Johnson, daughter of Barnes Wallis, Mary Stopes-Roe, dignitaries from the Commonwealth nations and many officers and men serving and retired from the Royal Air Force. The Very Reverend Philip Buckler, the Dean of Lincoln referring to 617 Squadron in his opening prayer said, “We remember all who have served and still serve in that Squadron. We honour all who fight in the service of freedom.” He went on to add, “Today we especially pray for the Royal Air Force and all those who continue to work, often in immense danger, for justice and peace.”
During the commemoration 617 Squadron’s Standard was laid on the Alter and in the sermon given by the Royal Air Force Chaplain-in-Chief, Air Vice Marshal, the Venerable Ray Pentland said of it, “It stands to challenge our standards, our values of history,” adding “here then encapsulated in this material is the story of those who have gone before. It is their story but it is also your story; it is the Squadron’s heritage. Those who serve today tread in the footsteps of those we remember, celebrate and commemorate this day.”
In a solemn reading, which reflected the occasion, Squadron Leader Dunc’ Mason, the Officer Commanding the RAF’s Memorial Flight, read and excerpt from the Funeral Oration of Pericles, which concluded, “Remember that posterity can only be for the free; that freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.”
After the Service when the congregation had gathered outside, two Tornados from today’s 617 Squadron flew over the cathedral, followed moments later by the Lancaster bomber of the RAF Memorial Flight, the poignant sight moving several in the congregation to applaud.
Editor: Ed Marshall
Photographer:Sgt Jez Doak and SAC Blake Carruthers