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Second World War airman honoured

One of the three surviving members of the famous Second World War Dambusters Raid was recently honoured by a Red Deer-based association for air force veterans.

Fred Sutherland, 90, of Rocky Mountain House, was given a lifetime membership by 703 Wing, Royal Canadian Air Force Association, earlier this month. “I was honoured and I didn’t expect anything like that. It was very kind of them,” said Sutherland.

Bev Hughes, a Royal Canadian Air Force veteran who served as a flying instructor from 1956-62 and was based at CFB Penhold, said he had always been interested in the Dambusters Raid and proposed the motion to recognize Sutherland at a recent 703 Wing meeting.

Association members went to Rocky Mountain House earlier this month to present Sutherland with his membership.

It was a fascinating meeting, said Hughes. “I think the four of us who went could have spent the whole day listening to Fred talk,” he said.

Sutherland was a 20-year-old front gunner on one of the four-engine Lancaster bombers armed with an ingenious bouncing bomb that were sent on a moonlight mission on May 16-17, 1943 to destroy dams in Germany’s industrial heartland.

The plane that Sutherland flew in was credited with successfully blowing a massive hole in the Edersee Dam.

Other planes breached the Möhne Dam and a third dam was damaged.

Of the 133 air crew in 19 planes that flew out, 53 airmen were killed and only 11 planes returned.

Thirty Canadians participated, including six from Alberta. Fourteen were killed and one became a prisoner.

pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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