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Archaeologists welcome Dambusters veteran

Eder Dam on 17 May 1943

Eder Dam on 17 May 1943 Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive)

9 November 2011

George ‘Johnny’ Johnson, the last surviving British veteran of the ‘Dambuster’ raids, is to deliver a talk about his wartime experiences to MA students in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology tomorrow (10 November).

The 90-year-old bomb aimer took part in Operation Chastise, an attack on German dams carried out on 16-17 May 1943 by Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron, subsequently known as the ‘Dambusters’. The raids, which were immortalised in the 1955 film The Dambusters, were led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson and used the so-called ‘bouncing bombs’ designed by Barnes Wallis. The Möhne and Edersee Dams were breached in the attack, causing catastrophic flooding of the Ruhr valley and of villages in the Eder valley, while the Sorpe dam sustained only minor damage.

The talk has been organised for students on the MA in 20th Century Conflict Archaeology, a new interdisciplinary programme on the study of conflict and its legacies during the 20th and early 21st centuries. The course, co-ordinated by Dr Nicholas Saunders, focuses on conflict as a multifaceted phenomenon, covering not only battlefields and large-scale wars between nations, but all types of conflict and its diverse social and cultural legacies.

Event organiser Philip Rowe, Archaeological Landscape Investigator in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, said: ‘We are honoured to host this talk by George Johnson. It is a rare chance for us archaeologists to speak to someone who was present while history was being made.’

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