PEAK DISTRICT: Derwent return for Dambusters

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The legendary Dambusters crew hit the ground running at a fitting Peak District landmark this week.

Brave airmen from the RAF 617 Squadron, made famous by its daring wartime bombing raids on Germany, descended upon the Derwent Dam on Monday as part of a gruelling charity quest.

The world-famous unit visited the iconic Hope Valley site on the third day of a week-long challenge to run 700 miles to raise money for the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity – whose founder was commander of 617 Squadron.

It also came during the 70-year anniversary of the Dambusters raid.

Derwent reservoir was used for practice runs by the elite crew of 617 Squadron as they prepared for the groundbreaking mission.

The pilots practised the dangerous low-flying manoeuvres they needed to perfect in order to drop the bouncing bomb, designed by engineer Barnes Wallis, at the exact height and level necessary for it to skim across the water and explode against German dams.

Corporal Thomas Connolly, of the team, said: “We ran past the commemorative plaque to 617 Squadron about 2am in the morning and held a minute’s silence at the memorial.

“There is so much history for the squadron at Derwent reservoir – it was a really special thing to be able to do.”

The so-called Dambusters Run follows key landmarks of the squad’s illustrious history, starting in Hampshire and finishing at RAF Lossiemouth near Inverness.

The mammoth run is taking place before the squad flies out to Afghanistan for its last ever tour of duty.

Squadron leader Mark Jackson said: “Embarking on a physically gruelling race isn’t normally the first thing on the agenda following weeks of intensive military training to prepare for deployment, but disability is a cause close to anyone who has toured


“Leonard Cheshire was a commander of our squadron during the Second World War who opened his home to disabled veterans following the conflict.

“Our guys have seen how the charity supports disabled people today and were moved beyond words.

“There is no more fitting tribute than to use our strength in the Dambusters Run to repay this.”

Leonard Cheshire Disability supports thousands of disabled people in the UK.

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