Controversial headstone to Dambusters’ dog changed

A headstone of the grave to the Dambuster’s dog has been changed.

The dog’s name is a racial slur.

Wing Commander Guy Gibson – who led the 617 Squadron raid on German dams – used the black Labrador’s name as a code word to say the mission was a success.

The headstone at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire – the 617 Squadron’s base – was recently changed.

The dog’s name is regularly edited out of film versions of the 1943 raid on the dams.

Or, simply changed to “Trigger”.

Gibson’s dog died in an accident as the bombers returned to base in after dropping their “bouncing bombs”.

Guy Gibson (right) with his dog

An RAF Spokesperson 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 the name has been removed.”

Conservative former minister Sir Edward Leigh, whose constituency includes Scampton, wrote to the RAF station commander saying:

“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.

“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 re-write history,”

“The past needs to be explained, taught about, and learned from – not re-written.

“Wing Cdr 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.”


About the Author

Philip Braund spent 16 years at the Daily Mirror as a reporter and news editor before moving to ITV. He was the series producer of the ground-breaking investigation programme The Cook Report, Managing Editor at ITV's Millbank Studios, and Head of News at ITV Central. He has won national and regional Royal Television Society awards for documentaries.

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