Dam Busters dog renamed for movie remake

Guy Gibson and the Dambusters with 'Nigger' The black Labrador was run over and killed during the planning of the raids

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The Dam Busters' dog will be renamed for a new version of the classic war movie, it has emerged.

Stephen Fry, who is writing the film's screenplay, said there was "no question in America that you could ever have a dog called the N-word".

In the remake, the dog will be called "Digger" instead of "Nigger".

The black Labrador was the mascot for RAF 617 squadron, which during World War II destroyed dams in Germany with Barnes Wallis's famous bouncing bomb.

Owned by the squadron's wing commander, Guy Gibson, the animal was run over and killed during the planning of the Dambuster raids, and was buried at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire - from where the operation was launched.

Fry told BBC Radio 5 live: "It's no good saying that it is the Latin word for black or that it didn't have the meaning that it does now - you just can't go back, which is unfortunate.

Start Quote

The film is not about the dog”

End Quote Phil Bonner Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire

"You can go to RAF Scampton and see the dog's grave and there he is with his name, and it's an important part of the film.

"The name of the dog was a code word to show that the dam had been successfully breached.

"In the film, you're constantly hearing 'N-word, N-word, N-word, hurray' and Barnes Wallis is punching the air. But obviously that's not going to happen now.

"So Digger seems OK, I reckon."

Phil Bonner, from Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire, said: "I think for the Second World War generation that word was acceptable.

"But with my daughters growing up in Lincolnshire, they have been taught that the word is unacceptable now.

"The film is not about the dog. My big concern would be if they watered down what the Dam Busters had achieved."

The 1955 film, which starred Sir Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd, told the story of Barnes Wallis' struggle to develop the bomb and the subsequent raids on Nazi Germany - codenamed Operation Chastise.

The remake is being produced by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson.

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