Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

North Dambusters Hero Dies, Aged 80

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

North Dambusters Hero Dies, Aged 80

Article excerpt

Byline: By Sarah Knapton

A wartime hero who played a crucial role in the famous RAF Dambuster squadron, has died aged 80.

Flight Lieutenant Francis, Bill, Garget flew with 617 Squadron, immortalised in the film The Dambusters.

As a wireless operator he played a crucial role in the aircraft famed for its use ot Barnes Wallis' bouncing bombs, created to blow up the German dams of the Ruhr Valley and cut off water and hydro-electric supplies and flood factories.

Bill, of Station Road, Forest Hall, in North Tyneside, was just a teenager of 17 and had to lie about his age to enlist in the RAF, in 1941.

He was posted to the famous Lancaster bombers of 617 Squadron, in 1943.

His proud daughter, Anne-Marie Sharp, 48, of Deans Close, Whickham, said: "By the time I was born he was out of the RAF but we were all fascinated by the tales he used to tell.

"In the raids he would sit right behind the pilot.

"In one of the later raids they went on, one of their bomb's became lodged in the Lancaster's undercarriage after it was released. They had to return to base and land with it sticking out.

"Dad told me he never had any time to be frightened because the spirit of camaraderie was so strong and everyone was looking out for everyone else. So many of his friends didn't come back from the raids and that must have been very hard for him.

"He thought Barnes Wallis was a genius."

The Moehne and Eder Dams were the most important, providing electricity for the Ruhr Valley, preventing flooding and feeding the Mittelland Canal.

Barnes Wallis believed a bouncing bomb that would clear protective nets, smash into the dam wall then sink to 30 feet and explode would break the dam.

A squadron of elite pilots and crew were drafted to the new 617 Squadron, in March 1943, to drop the bombs. The crew had to release the bomb while flying at exactly 220 mph and at a height of exactly 60 feet. …

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