Saturday 20 Sep 2014
Television actor and vintage plane enthusiast Martin Shaw presents a documentary from the BBC which reveals brand new information about the RAF's famous wartime Dambusters raid.
Dambusters Declassified can be seen on BBC Two at 8pm on Sunday 17 October.
Executive Producer Ian Cundall said: "Many people think they know the story of the Dambusters but the truth is even more extraordinary than the famous movie version of the raid."
Martin Shaw, who holds his own private pilot's licence and flies vintage Stearman trainers in which many wartime pilots learned to fly, can be seen in the documentary flying over the Upper Derwent Valley in the Peak District above Sheffield where 617 squadron famously practised their bomb runs before embarking on their mission to destroy dams in Germany during the Second World War.
He also navigates the entire wartime route from RAF Scampton – home to the original 617 Squadron – to the Ruhr Valley in Germany. Much of the flight takes place at the same extreme low level the Dambusters used to evade German guns and night fighters, thanks to a legal exemption from the Civil Aviation Authority.
Among the new information revealed by the programme is the Nazi project to build Hitler's own bouncing bomb, with help from a British bomb captured intact and secret intelligence revealed by a downed Dambusters crewman.
Churchill took the threat of a revenge raid so seriously 5,000 troops were assigned to guard the Derbyshire dams serving the steelworks of Sheffield.
Shaw said: "This has been an amazing journey for me... I've learned so much about a story that I knew very well. So what have I learnt along the way? Well the Dambusters story and the men who made it possible. It's not like the movie at all... oh, no in truth it's a far more unbelievable, a far more amazing story than that."
Shaw also hears from Margaret Masters, a wartime nurse who was the secret girlfriend of Dambusters leader Guy Gibson. She talks publicly for the first time about her relationship with a war hero whose fairytale marriage to a showgirl was exploited in the press for its propaganda value when the relationship was – she says – on the rocks.
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