FINAL SALUTE TO THE HEROES OF THE CHANNEL DASH HELD AT MANSTON AIRFIELD 14022022 Credit MOD
A final salute to the heroes of the Channel Dash was held at Manston airfield, 80 years on (Picture: MOD).
Remembrance

Tribute to WW2 heroes who 'knew they would probably not come back' from daring mission

Final salute to Channel Dash heroes who flew a do-or-die mission to see off German fleet in the Second World War.

FINAL SALUTE TO THE HEROES OF THE CHANNEL DASH HELD AT MANSTON AIRFIELD 14022022 Credit MOD
A final salute to the heroes of the Channel Dash was held at Manston airfield, 80 years on (Picture: MOD).

The bravery of airmen who flew torpedo bombers in a vain do-or-die attempt to stop a breakout of German ships in the English Channel in the Second World War has been given a final salute at a service in Kent.

Nicknamed the Channel Dash or, officially, Operation Fuller, 18 men from 825 Naval Air Squadron flew six now-obsolete Swordfish bombers out of Manston airfield on 12 February 1942.

All six aircraft were shot out of the sky and only five of the 18 crew were rescued. 

About 150 people gathered at the now-disused Kent airfield, 80 years after the ill-fated operation, to remember one of the bravest episodes in Royal Navy history.

Sailors from HMS Kent and HMS President, Sea Cadets from Ramsgate, the RAF's Central Band and representatives of 72 Squadron, gathered in a hangar to honour the men who tried against the odds to stop the German fleet.

Senior observer Lieutenant Commander Douglas Keenan said: "Had it received the proper fighter protection on the day, who knows what would have happened.

"Instead, it was outgunned, outpaced, outpowered, outnumbered."

Edgar Lee, a 19-year-old observer/navigator, was one of the five men rescued from the original 18.

Edgar's widow Carol Lee said: "Edgar was never a man to put himself to the fore, but he would have been proud and above all really would have appreciated that people still remember."

Malcolm Godfrey, chairman of the Channel Dash Memorial Trust, said the 80th anniversary was an apt moment to hold the final major act of commemoration. 

"Eighteen men got into those aircraft knowing that they would probably not come back. Their actions demonstrate the bravery which we like to think we possess in ourselves in the hardest hours," he said.