Friday, 17 May 2013

Dambuster David Maltby Local Hero

Squadron Leader David Maltby DSO DFC is buried in the churchyard of one of the local villages to me at Wickhambreux near Canterbury, Kent. Today I visited his grave as a mark of respect to the entire 617 Dambuster squadron who went on that famous raid 70 years ago. David Maltby's crew delivered the bomb that finally broke the Mohne Dam on the night of 16/17 May 1943 and survived the raid.
Sadly he was lost with his crew returning from an aborted raid in September 1943 just a few months later, probably as a result of a collision with a Mosquito over the sea on the return leg. Only David's body was released by the sea to be buried in the peaceful churchyard of the church where he had been married.
 The village is a calm place only a few miles from the hustle and bustle of 'tourist Canterbury' , the church a place of quiet reflection. David Maltby died when only 23 ( my son is now 23 which brings realisation about the youth of these men especially the 'experienced crews') and in the tribute to the Dambusters on BBC2 Thursday evening with Dan Snow ( see also the Derwant Dam commemoration) I was pleased top see David's son present at the ceremony who had been only 10 weeks old at his death. Also worth watching is this clip from the 24th Dambusters re union
 The beautiful green in front of the church and below the 'Rose at Wickembreux' opposite the church
My father knew Geoff Rice the pilot who hit the sea and lost his bomb on the way to the dams and I was pleased to see a letter in The Aeroplane magazine this month remembering Geoff and one of the talks he gave to an audience in the late 70's recounting the raid. Geoff dad said never completely came to terms with being the only survivor from his crew when they were shot down some months later. These were amazing men who I am sure none of us will forget. See some artwork of the raid here


legatus hedlius said...

Excellent post!

Dux Homunculorum said...

How very sad. Thank you for sharing this.

FalkeEins said...

..thanks for this post - I often drive past Wickhambreux but had no idea there was a Dambuster buried there!