Schools in Grantham and surrounding villages took centre stage at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Tuesday to mark the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters’ raid.
Pupils from King’s School, Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School and primary schools in Denton, Harlaxton and Barrowby joined a musical performance by 600 Lincolnshire schoolchildren, attended by the last surviving Dambuster, Squadron Leader Heorge (Johnny) Johnson.
The performance, entitled ‘Lincolnshire Skies: A Tribute to the Dambusters’, was commissioned by the Lincolnshire Music Service and composed by Lincoln-based Jonathan Nowell.
Speaking before the show, Sdn Ldr Johnson said: “It is my great privilege to attend the performance, and I hope the audience will enjoy this most fitting tribute to all involved in that epic raid, particuarly those who did not return.”
During the Second World War, Lincolnshire became known as ‘Bomber County’ due to the concentration of British and allied air assets which defended and attacked from Lincolnshire airfields. The Royal Air Force continues its strong presence within the county to this day.
The raid was commanded right here in Grantham in 1943, at St Vincent’s, off Harrowby Road. A stone monument outside the house marks the very spot where coded messages were received confirming the success of the Dambusters raid on May 17, 1943.
Now the building is home to Graham Jeal and his young family, but almost every room contains paintings and murials celebrating the achievements of 617 Squadron, the history of the building and its pivotal role in the famous raid.