South Australian Dam Busters MemorialPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Bryan Cole

A memorial commemorates the involvement of three South Australian airmen during the Dam Busters Raid of World War Two. 

On the night of 16 and 17 May 1943, Lancasters bombers of 617 Squadron, using bouncing bombs devised by Barnes Wallis, destroyed the Mohne and Eder dams in the Ruhr Valley in Germany.

Three South Australians, Squadron Leader David Shannon, Flight Lieutenant Robert Hay and Flying Officer Frederick Spafford were part of the Royal Air Force`s 133-strong 617 Squadron involved in the 1943 attacks on Mohne and Eder dams which also crippled munitions factories and food production. It was one of the most brilliant feats of bombing ever achieved.

The special bombs had to be dropped from an altitude of precisely sixty feet with no margin for error – all the while under fire. The Dam Busters Raid, as it has since become known, was also one of the most dangerous missions of the war. Of the nineteen Lancasters which took part, eight were lost and a further two seriously damaged. Wing Commander Guy Gibson, who led the attack, was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross.


Address:King William Road, Pathway of Honour , Adelaide , 5000
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.919043
Long: 138.599639
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Conflict
Actual Event STart Date:16-May-1943
Actual Event End Date:17-May-1943


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Saturday 17th May, 2008
Front Inscription


This memorial commemorates the bravery and heroism of three South Australian airmen who participated in the famed Dam Busters raid on 17 May 1943.

Squadron Leader David Shannon DSO & Bar (Bomber Pilot), Flight Lieutenant Robert Hay DFC & Bar (Bomb Aimer) and Flying Officer Frederick Spafford DFC DFM (Bomb Aimer) were seconded from the Royal Australian Air Force to the Royal Air Force, 617 Squadron, on its formation in 1943.

All three flew in the first wave of nineteen Lanscaster aircraft detailed to attack the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams in the German Ruhr Valley.  The Mohne and Eder dams were successfully breached causing considerable disruption to key German war industries located downstream from the dams.

This daring operation came to be known as the Dam Busters Raid.  It greatly undermined the resolved of the German war effort and paved the way for an Allied victory in Europe.

The raid was courageously and audaciously carried out at extremey low level against great odds.  Of the nineteen Lancaster aircraft dispatched from Scampton Airfield, in England, in the evening of 16 May 1943, only eleven returned.  In all, thirteen Australian airmen took part in the raid, two of whom were killed and one of whom became a prisoner of war.

Flying Officer Spafford died in an air operation over Europe on 16 September 1943 and Flight Lieutenant Hay died similarly on 13 February 1944. Squadron Leader Shannon survived the war and died in England in 1993.

Lest We Forget

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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