70th Anniversary Tribute – The Dambusters & Flt Lt W Astell


At 11am a minutes silence was held in the Market Place as a tribute to those who took part in the “Dambusters” Raid on the 16th May 1943 and particularly Flight Lieutenant William Astell, D.F.C (from Combs) who died in the raid, and also Sergeant Jack Marriott D.F.M. from nearby Chinley and the other 51 fliers who died on that raid.

This ceremony was organised by Edmund Bradbury and the Chapel-en-le-Frith branch of the Royal British Legion It was attended by representatives of RAF 617 Squadron from Lossiemouth, Lieutenant Wing Commander Philip Giles on behalf of The Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, The High Sheriff of Derbyshire, Mayor Elect Tony Kemp of High Peak Borough, Mr Andrew Bingham MP, as well as a very large number of locals and pupils from Combs Junior School.

In pleasant May sunshine, wreaths were laid on the Cenotaph, by High Peak Council, Andrew Bingham, Buxton ATC, Stockport Council’s Mayoress laid a wreath (Lancaster’s were built A.V. Roe in Woodford during WWII) and many others, there were also Prayers, led by Rev David Phillo (Chaplain to C-E-L-F Royal British Legion), a reading by Rev Foday Kamara of Chinley Independent Chapel and a Benediction was given by Rev Dr N R Bralesford from Chapel’s Parish Church).

Bill Astell
Flight Lieutenant William (Bill) Astell D.F.C.

Chapel-en-le-Frith Male Voice Choir (conducted by Roger Briscoe) sang to the Dambusters March, and led everyone in the National Anthem, to conclude the first part of the event, invited guests retired to the Town Hall for a light buffet several speeches were made and a really wonderful commemorative  photo was presented to Edmund Bradbury by 617 Squadron.

On the raid, Flight Lieutenant Astell, aged 23, was in command of one of the 19 Lancaster bombers which were based at RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire. Each had a crew of seven, with a total of 133 RAF personnel being engaged, of which 53 lost their lives and three were captured, with eight aircraft being lost.

By 12:50 everyone was back outside to watch a flypast by our sole surviving Lancaster Bomber PA747 “City of Lincoln” which flew over Combs and Chapel, prior to a flypast at nearby Derwent Dam and reservoir (were 617 Squadron
Lancaster "City of Lincoln"
City of Lincoln over Chapel Market Place
practised bomb aiming techniques before the raid). The City of Lincoln did us proud, by initially flying over and then circling and doing two re-runs over the crowded Market Place, where many photgraphs were taken

The City of Lincoln’s flight to-day has been watched at a number of places around the country including at Derwent Resovoir

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