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Organisational brain behind raid honoured

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Relatives of a Leicester airman described as the organisational brain behind the Dam Busters will be guests of honour at a service marking the raid's 70th anniversary.

Royal Air Force veterans will honour the 53 airmen of 617 Squadron who died in the daring "bouncing bomb" raid on vital dams in Germany on May 16, 1943.

The Royal Air Force Association's (RAFA) county branch plan a wreath-laying service at Victoria Park war memorial, Leicester, on Wednesday.

The event, the first of its kind in Leicester, will remember the late Harry Humphries, who served as Wing Commander Guy Gibson's adjutant.

His grandson, Robert Love, 52, from Littlethorpe, contacted the Mercury after we issued an appeal on behalf of organisers.

"It's a lovely gesture," he said. "We're very grateful to be given the opportunity to join the veterans in remembering the airmen who lost their lives on the raid."

Harry, who died in 2008, aged 92, worked as manager at Parker Shoes, in Leicester, before and after the war, before retiring with wife, Ethel, to Norfolk for the last 30 years of his life.

His logistical mastery was crucial to the success of the Dam Busters raid – codenamed Operation Chastise – having been promoted to Flight Lieutenant on the eve of the mission at the insistence of Gibson to be his right-hand man.

It left him just 48 hours to make all the essential arrangements for the aircrew, including everything from organising flying rations to getting them to the right aircraft in time.

Harry, who wrote a book on his experiences – Living With Heroes, published in 2001 – was also responsible for sending telegrams to the families of the men who didn't return.

He and his late wife had a son, Peter, and two daughters, Pat and Pauline.

They have five grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren, with many still living in Leicestershire.

Ethel passed away in February, aged 96, while Pauline died several years ago.

Robert said: "I am so proud of my granddad. He used to tell me all about the Dam Busters and I have an inscribed silver cigarette box given to him by Guy Gibson after the raid, which has pride of place on my mantelpiece."

Robert's mum, Pat Love, 77, who lives in Wigston, said: "We are all really touched by the invitation to attend the service to the Dam Busters.

"Dad's book was called Living With Heroes and that's the way he saw them."

Ex-RAF policeman and RAFA branch secretary Roy Rudham, 70, from Clarendon Park, Leicester, who has organised the commemoration, said: "Harry played a crucial role in the success of the Dam Busters and we feel privileged and honoured that members of his family will be joining us for the memorial service."

Serving airmen with 617 Squadron, which is now based at RAF Lossiemouth, in Scotland, will also attending the service.

Organisational brain behind raid honoured


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