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Jersey stamps commemorate 75th anniversary of ‘Dambusters’ mission

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A SPECIAL set of stamps to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the most famous bombing raid of the Second World War has been issued by Jersey Post.

Jersey Post’s latest commemorative stamps mark the 75th anniversary of Operation Chastise – a Second World War bombing mission that became more popularly known as the Dambusters Raid. Picture: JERSEY POST

The six stamps tell the story of the Dambusters Raid that took place on the night of 16/17 May 1943, when Wing Commander Guy Gibson led a newly formed unit on a mission to destroy dams in Germany’s industrial heartland in the Rhur Valley.

Chris Elligott, philatelic production co-ordinator at Jersey Post, said: ‘The story of the raid was made into the famous British film The Dambusters, released in 1955.

‘It is through this film that many people are aware of the raid today and so the six stamps represent the mission in a montage illustrative style, reminiscent of 1950s film posters.

‘The stamps celebrate the 75th anniversary of this iconic mission and follow our recent issue marking the centenary of the RAF.’

On the night of 16 May 1943, 19 specially adapted Avro Lancaster bombers took off from Scampton Airfield in Lincolnshire on a mission to breach three dams deep within the heart of Germany’s Ruhr valley. Known as Operation Chastise, it required some of the RAF’s most skilled pilots. They had to fly at low altitude at night across the North Sea, over Holland and into Germany, maintaining radio silence, to precision drop a weapon that had never been tried in the field.

Each aircraft carried one of engineer Barnes Wallis’ unique bouncing bombs, which were designed to skip over water before sinking and exploding against the dams’ inner walls.

They succeeded in breaching the Möhne and Eder dams, but the Sorpe remained intact. The resulting deluge destroyed factories and other industrial infrastructure up to 80 miles away and killed 1,600 civilians.

However, the dams were repaired and German production in the area was back to normal by the autumn.

Eight Lancaster bombers were shot down with a loss of 53 aircrew. Wing Commander Gibson won the Victoria Cross for his role in the raid.

Paula Thelwell

By Paula Thelwell
author

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