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My very own piece of Dambuster's history

This month marks 75 years since 133 airmen, led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, took part in the Dambusters raid. Fifty-three of those brave men made the ultimate sacrifice. As part of the Fund's commemorations, we hear from Sergeant Alfie Garnett, who inherited his very own piece of Dambusters history.

One of my earliest memories is looking at the black and white photographs displayed on my Nanna's sideboard in her house when I was about eight years old. I remember my Grandad showing me the photo of the 12 men in uniform and recounting their story.

To be honest, I was a young lad and at the time it didn't have much of an impact on me.

617 Squadron

It was only when I was older, and my interest in the RAF grew, that I realised just how extraordinary their story was and every time I saw the picture thereafter I was in utter disbelief that it was sitting on my Nanna's sideboard.

The photo was taken at RAF Scampton by my Great Nanna's brother, Frederick Waller, who was stationed there at the time and shows the 12 pilots, including Wing Commander Guy Gibson, that took part in the Dambusters raid on 16-17 May 1943, as they returned home. The photo is signed by Guy Gibson and we believe it is a one of a kind.

When it was handed down to me, as sad as the circumstances were, it meant the absolute world. Every time I look at the image I remember my Grandad telling me the story of those courageous men.

As a serving Sergeant in the Royal Air Force myself, I can't help but think back to the men and women who put their lives on the line to secure our freedom during the Second World War.

The bravery of the men in 617 Squadron is something you can't put into words. They were prepared and so many did, make the ultimate sacrifice for the defence of not only our nation, but other nations throughout the world.

Their courage and bravery must never be forgotten.

As the RAF celebrates its centenary this year, the RAF Benevolent Fund prepares to do the same. The Fund has stood side by side with the RAF since it was founded, just a year after the Royal Air Force itself and as a serving member of the RAF who has personally received support from the Fund I just want to say thank you for everything they do.

When my wife was diagnosed with cancer in January 2018 for the second time, I was pointed in the direction of the Fund by the Warrant Officer at RAF Waddington. The Fund stepped in and provided some financial assistance which was a huge relief to me, my wife and our two girls. It's made a huge difference to us and really did help alleviate some of those worries.

As we face a frightening time ahead, we have comfort knowing that the RAF Benevolent Fund are there for us now and in the future.

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