Visitors from famous Dambusters' squadron



Visitors from famous Dambusters' squadron


A newspaper cutting announcing that Ernie Twells and the 617 squadron association will attend a presentation at Matlock. It describes the attempts made to sink the Tirpitz. Handwritten at the top is 'Long Eaton Advertiser 10/11/77'.






One newspaper cutting from a scrapbook.


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PTwellsE15070111, PTwellsE15070112


[inserted] Long Eaton Advertiser [underlined] 10/11/77 [/underlined] [/inserted] 13

Visitors from famous Dambusters’ squadron

A Long Eaton man will be among a group of wartime fliers from 617 Squadron – The Dambusters – who are due to visit Matlock on Saturday, the 33rd anniversary of their successful attack on the German battleship Tirpitz which eliminated a major threat to the Russian convoys.

He is Mr. Ernie Twells D.F.C., of 2 Abbot Street, Long Eaton, who was a flight engineer with 617 Squadron and took part in all three strikes against the Tirpitz.

Members of the 617 Squadron Association are visiting the county at the invitation of Coun. Norman Wilson, chairman of he [sic] county council and himself a former R.A.F. jet fighter pilot.


Said Coun. Wilson: “I am delighted that the association was able to accept my invitation. It is appropriate that links should be forged between us because the squadron used the Derwent Dams during training for the legendary raid on the Rhur dams and of course Rolls-Royce engines powered their Lancasters.

There are already links between the present 617 Squadron and our social services department. Groups of problem youngsters have visited the squadron at R.A.F. Scampton in Lincolnshire. The visits have been beneficial and a regular programme has been arranged.”

Membership of the 617 Squadron Association is confined to aircrew who flew operationally with the squadron between its foundation in early 1943 and the end of the war in May 1945. There are 260 members scattered across the world.

The squadron wrote itself into aviation history on the night of May 16, 1943 with the Dambusters raid, using the bouncing bomb invented by Barnes Wallis who spent part of his early life at Ripley.

The Tirpitz operation began 14 months later, again using a Barnes Wallis bomb – the 12,000 lb Tallboy.

The 43,000 ton battleship, sister to the Bismarck, was lying in a Norwegian fiord from where it threatened the Russian convoys. This meant that British battleships had always to be hovering in the background in case the Tirpitz came out. not for nothing was she nicknamed the “Big Bad Wolf” by escort commanders.

The Royal Navy attacked with midget submarines and although two huge mines were exploded under the Tirpitz she did not sink.


Then on September 15 617 Squadron staged their first raid. First they flew to Russia to get within range of their quarry in Alten Fiord. But the attack was thwarted by a smoke screen that hid the battleship within minutes.

The squadron returned to England but when the Tirpitz moved south to Tromso a second attack was mounted. Extra fuel tanks and more powerful engines were fitted to the Lancaster bombers but this time cloud hampered the bombing.

It was to be third time lucky on November 12. With German fighters from a nearby station failing to intervene, no cloud and no smoke, 617 Squadron made a perfect attack. Three Tallboys smashed into the Tirpitz and she rolled over and out of the war.

Leading the 20 members of the association will be Group Capt. J.B. Tait, who led all three raids on the Tirpitz. Wtih [sic] him will be seven members of the attacking aircrews together with survivors from the Dambusters’ raid.

After a reception and buffet lunch at County Offices, the party will visit Chatsworth House at the invitation of the Duke of Devonshire.


Long Eaton Advertiser, “Visitors from famous Dambusters' squadron,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 24, 2024,

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