Profile of Courage: Remembering a soft-spoken farm boy from Alberta

A group of men wearing military uniforms stand in front of a brick building with large windows.
Surviving members of 617 Squadron (except those who had already gone to bed) stand by the entrance of the Officers’ Mess at Scampton, Lincolnshire, after breakfasting following their return from the raid. Pilot Officer Harlo “Terry” Taerum is fourth from the right. Wing Commander Gibson stands near the centre of the group, tenth from the left. PHOTO: © Imperial War Museum, HU 91948

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In early 1943 the Allies needed a hero and something to celebrate. Britain, Canada, and other members of the Commonwealth had been at war for three and a half long years and although the tide seemed to be slowly turning, Bomber Command was still the only offensive punch that was capable of making itself felt within Hitler’s European fortress.

The story of the raid on the dams of the Ruhr Valley is well known. The creation of the specialized bouncing bomb by the brilliant Barnes Wallis, the special squadron—617 Squadron—whose aircrew was hand-picked by Guy Gibson to deliver it, and the successful low level attack by 19 specially modified Lancasters that breached the dams has been thoroughly documented in books and the highly acclaimed 1950s movie. It is an enduring tale and few stories of the Second World War stand out so prominently as that of the Dambusters.

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