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Dambusters dog’s memorial replaced by RAF to remove its racist name | UK News



The headstone of a grave to the Dambusters’ dog has been replaced – with no mention of its racist name.

Wing Commander Guy Gibson used his dog’s name – the n-word – as a code phrase to confirm which German dams they were bombing during the Second World War had been breached.

The black labrador retriever died after being hit by a car on the same night in 1943 as what was probably the most famous raid in the history of the 617 Squadron, based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.

The beloved black labrador's name was the code word to confirm the dams had been breached
The beloved black labrador’s name was the code word to confirm the dams had been breached

Almost 80 years on, his headstone has been removed from Scampton – and replaced with a gravestone that tells his story but without his name.

A spokesman for the RAF said: “As part of an ongoing review of its historical assets, the RAF have replaced the gravestone of Guy Gibson’s dog at RAF Scampton.

“The new gravestone tells the story of Guy Gibson’s dog, but its name has been removed.”

An RAF source has told the Press Association news agency that the old gravestone would be stored in a safe location, while the Air Historical Branch considers its next steps.

It is understood the decision was taken in order to not give prominence to an offensive word that goes against the modern RAF’s ethos.

The dog’s name has been edited out of the famous 1955 film adaptation the squadron’s heroic work, The Dam Busters, since the 1990s – or replaced with the name Trigger.

Wing Commander Gibson’s dog often accompanied him on training flights and was loved by the 617 Squadron and his former 106 Squadron.

The beer-loving lab was buried at midnight on 16 May 1943, as Gibson led a low-flying raid on the dams.

Bomber Command Lancasters, which took the war to the heart of Nazi Germany, fly in formation over the Union Jack.
Bomber Command Lancasters, which took the war to the heart of Nazi Germany

Conservative former minister Sir Edward Leigh, whose constituency includes Scampton, wrote to the RAF station commander saying he was concerned about history being rewritten.

“Undoubtedly we are both more sensitive and more sensible today when it comes to the delicateness of racialist and derogatory terminology which had been used with unfortunate informality in the past,” he wrote.

“It is perfectly understandable that this is a tricky matter to which there are no simple or easy solutions.

“I am, however, very fearful of our ability today to erase or rewrite history. The past needs to be explained, taught about, and learned from – not rewritten.

“Wing Commander Gibson’s dog was much loved by the Dambusters and was killed while he was on a raid risking his life to defend our country.”

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