by Robert Owen, 617 Sqn Historian
The Dam Buster raid, Operation Chastise, has gone down in history as one of the greatest feats of arms executed by the Royal Air Force. Extraordinary demands were placed upon the airmen who took part in the raid, one of whom was the particularly accomplished young pilot Henry Maudslay.
Henry, educated at Eton, was well-regarded and respected by contemporaries and Masters alike. He left school in 1940 and volunteered immediately for the RAF, becoming part of a generation for who transition into adulthood would, again, be cast in the heat of battle. Henry flew his first operational tour with No. 44 Squadron on Handley Page Hampdens, following which his experiences and skills were utilised during service trials for the new Avro Lancaster. Henry joined No. 50 Squadron at the start of 1943 for a second tour and in March 1943 he was selected to join a new squadron, No. 617, then forming at RAF Scampton.
Henry Maudslay attacked the Eder Dam on the night of 16/17 May 1943. After a number of attempts, he released his weapon which struck the parapet and detonated on impact almost immediately behind the aircraft. Contrary to contemporary reports the aircraft survived, and set course for home, only to be brought down near the Rhine with the loss of all its crew. Combining material from family, school and official archives, together with personal letters and recollections from those who knew him, Robert Owen, Official Historian of the No. 617 Squadron Association, describes in detail the family background, school life and extraordinary flying career of this young and enigmatic airman.
Hardback, 400 pages