Mary Stopes Roe, the daughter of Barnes Wallis, the inventor of the bouncing bomb, spoke to the RAF Benevolent Fund in an exclusive interview about how she came to hear about the raid for the very first time.
Mary has memories from home of her father throwing marbles across water, which were in fact rudimentary experiments for the drop technique that would eventually enable his invention of the bouncing bomb.
While Mary knew that her father’s work was of some importance, she was never told any explicit details of the mission itself, due to its top-secret nature. She found out about the Dambusters raid at the same time as the rest of the world when it was reported in the news, despite her father's work for many months being at the very centre of it all.
"I did send him a telegram straight away but that wasn't enough," Mary says. She goes on to explain how proud she was of her father at the time of receiving the news.
"So then I wrote the most extraordinary, exuberant, 14-year-old letter to him saying 'how wonderful' and all that sort of thing. It’s really quite embarrassing in a way now, but I did know I wasn't to tell anybody about it. So I said in my letter, 'I've been rushing about the place looking very happy and I didn't tell anybody why.'"
This blog is dedicated to the memory of Pilot Officer Arthur Whittaker, a bomb aimer with 617 Squadron on the Dambuster raid, who was killed in action on May 16, 1943.