Rodney Times : April 23rd 2015
YOUR PLACE, YOUR PAPER Thursday, April 23, 2015 Flight The cast and crew of TheDamBusters. Lieutenant Richard Lambert flies in close formation in his Lancaster bomber, top right, during filming of The DamBusters. By JAY BOREHAM A WORLD War II veteran with a link to the famous Dam Busters, will be among thousands of people commemorating Anzac Day this weekend. Plans and testing for the bombing of dams in Germany’s Ruhr Valley were well under way when Flight Lieutenant Richard ‘‘Dick’’ Lambert signed up to the Royal Air Force and joined Bomber Command in 1942. The Lancaster bombers of Squadron 617 took off on May 16 the next year to carry out the raid, using bombs designed by Sir Barnes Wallis to bounce over the torpedo nets guarding the dams and breach them. Dick remained on the ground, but he knew many of the aircrew conducting the raid dubbed Operation Chastise. The Orewa resident remembers frustration at not being allowed to fly through no fault of his own. ‘‘I wasn’t operational at all. I didn’t get to a squadron till after the war. ‘‘In retrospect I can say I’m glad, because of the losses,’’ the 89-year-old says. As World War II came to an end, the Cold War broke out and Bomber Command carried on. Dick was assigned to oper- ational flights flying Lincoln bombers over Germany and along Berlin corridors. But he got the chance to decorated for his efforts. Dick remembers the ‘‘dam- age’’ being riveted on to his bomber for the scene. The film was more like a documentary, because everything was depicted exactly the same, he says. ‘‘Except they weren’t shooting at us.’’ Filming for the raids in the Ruhr Valley took place in England in the Upper Derwent Valley, the test area for the real raids. Additional footage was shot above Windermere in the Lake District. Dick says being on set was a lot of fun for the RAF staff involved, because it was something different and it also involved a few perks. ‘‘One of the nice things about it was in 1954 England was still being rationed. ‘‘We didn’t really have a lot of meat. Yet when we were on location we had a big caravan and every day that we were there we’d have T-bone steaks.’’ The biggest fun was all the Flight Lieutenant Richard Lambert with wife Fran and mementos from his time during the filming of The DamBusters. relive Operation Chastise in 1954 when it was decided to immortalise the raid in the film The Dam Busters. Dick was chosen to fly one of four Lancaster bombers taken out of storage for the movie. ‘‘One aeroplane was used for just taxiing and pictures, as they had to make the four look like 19,’’ he says. While not given a starring role, Dick received a lot of air time in the film. He was assigned the plane which depicted Lancaster bomber AJ-P, affectionately known as ‘‘Popsie’’. The plane was flown in the 1943 raid by Australian Flight Lieutenant Harold Brownlow Morgan ‘‘Mickey’’ Martin. Martin flew on the star- board side of wing commander Guy Gibson in the raid’s first formation, which was assigned to attack the Mo ¨hne Dam in west Germany. His plane was hit by antiaircraft fire during the attack, but he successfully accomplished the bombing run and returned and was low flying the pilots did, which was something they normally weren’t allowed to do, he says. Bombing runs on the German dams occurred at 18 metres (60 feet) above water. But during filming flying at 18 metres appeared to be much higher from the camera’s perspective, so pilots were asked to fly lower, Dick says. ‘‘On one occasion we were flying up Lake Windermere and there was spray coming off the propellers.’’ The danger of flying in close formation at night for scenes was even more exciting, he says. During filming Dick was required to fulfil his Cold War duties, so would fly night missions in his Lincoln bomber and return the next day for filming in the Lancaster. His missions in Germany also meant he got to fly over the dams that were attacked. ‘‘You could see where they were repaired. Each side was covered in moss and lichen but there was a nice clean bit of concrete in the middle. In 2006 Sir Peter Jackson announced a remake of the movie. Dick received a call from Sir Peter asking for advice. ‘‘He said ‘there’s not many of you guys left, so I’d like to use your expertise’.’’ ‘‘But then we never heard any more.’’ The project is believed to have been delayed when Sir Peter decided to make The Hobbit trilogy. New Zealand film com- pany WingNut Films still owns the rights to remake The Dam Busters. A WingNut spokeswoman says the film is not in active production at this time. Meanwhile, Dick hopes to attend the Auckland War Memorial service on Saturday. ❚ Anzac services P3 Find neighbours to exchange garden goodies with Does anyone want to swap fruit or veg for lemons? We have heaps!
April 21st 2015