Act of Commemoration for Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC DSO* DFC* to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Dambusters Raid, 16th May, 2013

Hundreds of people turned out to attend the special Service of Commemoration held at Kings Hill, West Malling, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters, one of the best known and most daring bombing raids of World War II.

70th Anniversary of Dambusters Raid, West Malling, 16th May, 2013

Left to right: Councillor Leyland Ridings, KCC; Gp Capt Patrick Tootal; H M Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Viscount De L’Isle; The Rev (Flt Lt) Matthew Buchan; Lynne Selman, Kings Hill Rotary Club; Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling, Howard Rogers;  The Viscountess De L’Isle.

The commemorative event,  led by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Viscount De L’Isle MBE, was organised by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council and supported by Kings Hill developer Liberty Property Trust UK Ltd.

The Dambusters raid, ‘Operation Chastise’, used ‘bouncing bombs’ invented by Sir Barnes Wallis CBE to destroy the dams of Germany’s Ruhr Valley. Kings Hill’s connection with the mission is through the squadron’s commander Guy Gibson, who served with 29 Squadron based at RAF West Malling (now Kings Hill) in 1941/2.

Wreath-laying ceremony at 70th Anniversary of Dambusters Raid, West Malling, 16th May, 2013

After the Service of Commemoration wreaths were laid alongside the ‘Running Airman’ sculpture, at the RAF West Malling Memorial. The Memorial was unveiled in 2002 by the late Richard Todd who played Guy Gibson in the 1955 film ‘The Dam Busters’.

Guy Gibson, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery during the Dambusters raid, loved his time at West Malling and said: ‘Of all the airfields in Great Britain, here, many say, including myself, we have the most pleasant.’

Among the VIP guests were Warrant Officer Neville Croucher, 89, who was based at West Malling Airfield during the war, Leybourne vicar Rev (Flt Lt) Matthew Buchan, who had just returned from a three month deployment as the Chaplain to the Joint Air Group at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan and Flt Lt Richard Watts represented 29 Squadron.

Spitfire flypast over Kings Hill control tower at 70th Anniversary of the Dambusters Raid, 16th May, 2013

The grand finale to the event was a flypast by a Spitfire, which flew four times over the Control Tower at Kings Hill – an iconic landmark from where aircrew were guided in and out of the airfield during the war and which is undergoing a total refurbishment.


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