Dambusters: Celebrating 80 Years of Living History
On 17 May, the South Australia Division solemnly commemorated the 80th Anniversary of the Dambusters Raid. Many gathered at the Air Force Memorial, Torrens Parade Ground, Adelaide, to honour the courageous aircrew involved in the historic World War II mission.
Commander Air Warfare Centre and Senior Air Force Representative South Australia, Air Commodore Adrian Maso, delivered the keynote address, highlighting the enduring lessons provided by the Dambusters Raid, emphasising the need for innovation, the fusion of technology with the human spirit and doctrine, as well as the value of precision strike and operational and acceptable risk in service to strategic need and national interest.
The event, co-hosted with No 462 Squadron from RAAF Edinburgh, was a momentous occasion that not only celebrated the anniversary but also acknowledged the significant contributions made by Australian aviators. We pay tribute to the three South Australian aviators: Squadron Leader Dave Shannon DSO and Bar DFC and Bar, Flight Lieutenant Robert Hay DFC and Bar, Flying Officer Freddie Spafford DFC and Bar, who played a vital role in the operation.
101-year-old Mr Ray Merrill DFC, a Bomber Command tail gunner who flew Lancasters with an RAF squadron in World War II ,was present at the commemoration – testament to the enduring legacy and the unwavering spirit of those who served. AFA was also honoured to have at the ceremony family representatives of South Australian Dambusters including Ms Nikki King (daughter of SQNLDR Dave Shannon DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar) and Ms Jean Miller (niece of FLTLT Robert Hay DFC and Bar).
As we reflect on this significant milestone, let us remember and honour the 53 brave airmen who made the ultimate sacrifice during the raid.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Air Force Association in South Australia for organising this memorable event.
Caption: Australian Defence Force personnel, VIP’s and invited guests attend the Dambusters Raid 80th Anniversary Commemoration at the Air Force Memorial, Torrens Parade Ground, Adelaide. Photographer Sgt Nicci Freeman. Photo courtesy of Defence Image Library.