Dambusters dog's headstone changed to remove racist slur

17 July 2020, 10:53

The 1943 raids on German dams were some of the most famous in the history of the RAF
The 1943 raids on German dams were some of the most famous in the history of the RAF. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

A headstone memorialising the Dambusters' dog has been changed to remove its name - which is a racial slur.

Wing Commander Guy Gibson used his dog's name - which has been edited out of modern day movies or given the moniker Trigger - as a code word during the notorious Second World War raid on German dams.

He would use the word to announce a dam had been breached.

The low-level night attack on the dams in 1943 is one of the most famous raids in the history of the RAF.

It was carried out by the 617 Squadron, based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, and earned them the well-known nickname, the Dambusters.

The dog, a Labrador Retriever, died the same night the raid was carried out.

Conservative former minister Sir Edward Leigh, whose constituency includes Scampton, wrote to the RAF station commander to stress the more "sensitive and more sensible" views today, regarding the headstone.

This, he said, was particular "when it comes to the delicateness of racialist and derogatory terminology which had been used with unfortunate informality in the past.

"It is perfectly understandable that this is a tricky matter to which there are no simply of easy solutions.

"I am, however, very fearful of our ability today to erase or re-write history."

"The past needs to be explained, taught about, and learned from - not re-written.

"Wing Cdr Gibson's dog was much loved by the Dambusters and was killed while he was on a raid risking his life to defend our country."

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