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Hoppy Hopgood: "If I don't come back will you please destroy that letter"

Johnny Johnson, one of the last remaining servicemen who flew in the Dambusters raid of 16 and 17 May 1943, tells us the story of a man who never made it home, John 'Hoppy' Hopgood.

In such a dangerous mission, it was inevitable that some men would question the likelihood of making it out alive.

Johnny says of Hoppy Hopgood, who believed that he might just succumb to the perils of the mission: "I know of at least two crews who were of the opinion that they weren't going to come back and one of those was Hoppy Hopgood. As he was walking out with Dave Shannon, he said, 'Dave, I've got a feeling I’m not going to come back but I've written a letter which I’ve left in my room. If I don't come back will you please destroy it. I don't want it to go back to the family at all.'

"He didn't want them to know, (a) what was going on and (b) whether or not he was going to come back. Hoppy Hopgood crashed on his attack on the Mohne dam. He was [hit] by gunfire and he did drop his bomb but he crashed over the dam itself. His bomb aimer and I think the front gunner and the rear gunner escaped. They were taken prisoner."

This blog is dedicated to all the 55,573 men from Bomber Command who lost their lives in the Second World War, including the 53 men who did so on the Dambusters raid of 16 and 17 May 1943.

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