Are we led to believe that these men were Dams crew - Your opinion?

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by spidge, Jun 7, 2013.

  1. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    During my research on all three waves and their crews of the Dams raid, I was researching Flight Lieutenant Ivan Whittaker and came across this story of four northern members of the Dams raid.

    Am I reading this wrong or are the other three names being put forward as being on the dams raid?

    Excluding Ivan Whittaker none of the other names are on my list.

    Your opinion appreciated??


  2. AlanW

    AlanW Senior Member

    With the exception of Whittaker, i cannot find any of the others in any crew list, from the date of formation of 617, on the Dams raid, or up to July 44, at this moment.
  3. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good afternoon we led to believe that these men were dams you asked for an opinion I can only say.the history of the dam busters is well documented.and the names of all the crews would be on r.a.f records.these men are regarded as national heroes so I don't think you will not have much trouble findind out.who"s menbers.wish you luck with your research.regards,bernard85
  4. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Those men who took part in Operation Chastise were flight lieutenant Francis Bill Garget, from Forest Hall,

    Wireless operator Bill Garget – who lied about his age to join the RAF aged just 17 – died in 2004.

    He once told his daughter, Anne-Marie, that he was on the raid when he bent down to hear what his pilot was saying just as a stream of flak came through the plane where his head had been.

    Fred Whitfield, of Horsley Hill in Northumberland

    Rear gunner Fred Whitfield, who died nine years ago, also joined up underage.

    Rising through the ranks, he finished his flying career a warrant officer, with renown for shooting down a Messerschmitt and Junker 88 over Germany during RAF raids.

    Newcastle lad David Cookson.

    David Cookson died of a heart attack in 2004 after his coat became trapped in a moving car.


    flight engineer Ivan Whittaker, of Walkerville,

    Ivan Whittaker went on to have a long career in the RAF, retiring as a group captain in 1974. He died in 1979.
  5. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Starting with Garget -,+aged+80.-a0113124820

    This article from the time of his death in 2004 lists him as a member of 617SQN - but the way I read it he didn't take part in the raid itself.

    I think that was the basis for his inclusion in the article last month naming him as a Dambuster.

    Very confusing conflation of stories going on with just the first bloke mentioned in the recent article - I wonder what the story will be for the other two new names..........

    Proper details on this member - Francis William GARGET, D.F.C. (175489)

    Air Ministry, 19th September, 1944.

    The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards:

    Distinguished Flying Cross.

    Francis William GARGET (175489), R.A.F.V.R , No. 78 Sqn.
  6. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Thanks Dave,

    I have come across more than a few who are mentioned as being on the raid. The wording of that newspaper article leaves no doubt. (Although it comes from their children) There seems to be more than a few again who relate themselves to being "one" of the Dambusters however they were "with" 617sq after the Dams raid and were very much involved in very dangerous missions, Dortmunds etc

    A recent article lists a aircrew death as one of the "last Dambusters" which leads people to think that they were on the Dams raid wheras again he did not join 617sq until mid 1944.

    Maybe their children thought or presumed they were on the Dams raid.


  7. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    Hi Geoff,

    So nothing about him actually being on the raid.

    Something that has to be remembered as well is that after the raid No. 617 Squadron was called the Dambusters. Short of anybody's obituary saying they actually flew on the raid I don't think anybody is being disingenuous when they say "So-and-so was a Dambuster"


  8. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Hi Dave,

    I was very careful not to lump Dambusters with Dams raid, which is the issue. They were all heroes no doubt however the reporting is confusing also.
    The newspaper article is self explanatory.

    This one below was as I said in post #6 probably the Dortmund Canals bombing.


  9. Charles

    Charles Junior Member

    The Newcastle Journal has got this wrong before. I wrote to them but they haven't taken any notice.
    As Spidge says, the 133 who took part in the Dams Raid are well known, and listed in all the contemporary records -- the ORB and the "Night Flying Programme" typed up on the morning of the raid.
    As has also been said, "Dambusters" is a generic nickname for 617 Squadron, and anyone who has served in the squadron is surely entitled to call themselves by that name. But that doesn't mean they flew on the raid itself.
    Ivan Whittaker was definitely on the raid. He was flight engineer in Martin's AJ-P.
    None of the other three mentioned by the Journal were.
    Garget joined 617 Squadron on 9 November 1944 and flew about 13 operations before being posted out on 28 April 1945.
    I can't find any record in the ORB of any aircrew called either Whitfield or Cookson between March 1943 and May 1945.
    The ORB used to be online at as a searchable PDF, but seems to have vanished in the last redesign of the site. I have a version which I bought on CD.
    Anyone interested in the 133 aircrew might find my Dambuster of the Day feature interesting. It's posted on I will have posted a profile of everyone who took part in the raid by some time in September this year.
    Charles Foster
  10. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    Fair enough, Geoff. I only looked up Cookson who may turn out to have been ground crew on 617 Squadron at the time of the raid.

    I get your point, however, as over on RAFCommands there has been a few claims ((none Dambusters as far as I recall) which have been proven to be false.


  11. JulianW1944

    JulianW1944 New Member

    I'm a little late into this thread but I thought I'd comment to clarify on one of the names for any future searchers that end up here. Fred Whitfield (DFM) was a tail gunner in a Lancaster but with 9th Squadron. He had a distinguished career and was on the raid with 9th and 617 in the final attack on the Tirpitz in November 1944 (Catechism). He wrote a short book "We Sat Alone". I am sure that he never claimed to be on the Dams raid in May 43 and I believe he only joined up, under age, in 43. I think the confusion in the press comes from poor research and their assumption that everybody that flew in a "Lancaster" was a Dambuster, particularly if they took part in any one of 617's monumental raids. I think the attached is a definitive list.



    Attached Files:

    spidge and CL1 like this.
  12. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Hi Julian,
    The info is all correct except for the asterisk markings on who survived the war. 48 survived the war not 44.

    Martins crew all survived the war except "Robert Claude Hay" who was killed later on the Raid on the Antheor Viaduct 13/02/1944.

    Joe McCarthy also survived the war and his crew were one of only two crews to do so. Munro's crew the other.

    I put these crew lists together a few years ago which might be of interest to you and will possibly be a good ending to this thread. It is updated and only leaves two surviving Dambusters at this date: George "Johnny" Johnson and Fred Sutherland.

    The Australians were quite lucky only losing two of their compliment of (13) on the Dams raid, Astell and also Williams (Barlow Crew) with another (3) during the war (Spafford, Knight and Hay).


    1 Dambuster Crew Gibson.jpg

    2 Dambuster Hopgood Crew.jpg

    3 Dambuster Martin Crew 2.jpg

    4 Dambuster Young Crew.jpg

    5 Dambuster Maltby Crew.jpg

    6 Dambuster Shannon Crew.jpg

    7 Dambuster Maudslay Crew 1.jpg

    8 Dambuster Astell Crew.jpg

    9 Dambuster Knight Crew.jpg

    10 Dambuster Barlow Crew.jpg

    11 Dambuster Munro Crew.jpg

    12 Dambuster Byers Crew.jpg

    13 Dambuster Rice Crew.jpg

    14 Dambuster McCarthy Crew.jpg

    15 Dambuster Ottley Crew.jpg

    16 Dambuster Burpee Crew.jpg

    17 Dambuster Brown Crew.jpg

    View attachment 224281

    19 Dambuster Anderson Crew 2.jpg

    20 Dam's Raid Main Men.jpg

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
    SDP, CL1, Harry Ree and 2 others like this.
  13. JulianW1944

    JulianW1944 New Member

    Thanks Geoff. That is a great piece of work!

    Best Regards


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