Last of the Dambusters
On December 10th 1943 at 20.35 hours, one of the original ‘Dambuster’ Lancasters, ED825, took off on a secret supply mission for the French Resistance in Doullens. But as Gordon Weeden and his crew approached the town, the German gunners were waiting…
RAF Serial: ED825
Pilot: F/O G Weeden (Canadian) Killed
Bomb Aimer: W/O E Walters (American) Killed
Rear Gunner: W/O R Cummings (American) Killed
Flight Engineer Sgt A Richardson (RAF) Killed
Navigator: P/O R Jones (RAF) Killed
Wireless Operator: F/Sgt R Howell (RAF) Killed
Front Gunner: Sgt B Robinson (RAF) Killed
Date: 10-11 December 1943 – 17.20 hrs
Place: Doullens, France
Lancaster ED825 was one of bombers modified to carry the ‘Bouncing Bomb’ on the famous Dambuster Raid. Its Bomb Aimer on the Dambuster Raid was George ‘Johnny’ Johnson – by 2007 one of the last men alive who had flown to the dams. His target had been the Sorpe Dam that his crew succeeded in damaging.
‘Johnny’ Johnson was to be the subject of a Channel 5 documentary ‘Last of the Dambusters’ and the team accepted the challenge of finding Johnny’s old Lancaster. ED825 had returned safely to England from the Dam Busters Raid and was modified back to standard configuration so that it could be used again as a regular bomber.
On December 10th 1943 at 20.35 hours she took off from RAF Tempsford, bound for Doullens in France, on a supply drop for the French Resistance that would probably have seemed an ‘easy’ trip. Unlike a normal bombing raid to the heart of Germany, fighters and Flak were not predicted, especially flying at low level, and the trip was expected to be relatively short. Crossing the French coast around 21.30 hours they turned south for Doullens.
It is rumoured that a French ‘Double Agent’ informed the Germans of the supply drop and when the Lancaster arrived over the town of Doullens they were waiting. The bomber caught fire in the air and a few seconds later it crashed into a hillside, killing all on board.
The site was finally located and ‘Johnny’ was to accompany the team on the dig. Also invited to attend was the family of ED825’s pilot that night. Nephew, also Gordon Weeden, and his wife were flown from Ontario in Canada to take part.
Many small parts of the Lancaster were discovered, including some of its cargo destined for the Resistance.