Dozens of 'April Fools Club' veterans have cycled hundreds of miles to the Möhne Dam in Germany to mark 75 years since the Dambusters raid and raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund.

The ‘April Fools Club’ is made up of Lincolnshire veterans and local business people and is named after the day the Royal Air Force was formed - April 1, 1918.

The clubs latest venture saw them cycling between Newark, Lincolnshire and the Möhne Dam following a similar path to the Dambusters aircraft in May 1943.

The team’s 320-mile ride from Newark passed by RAF Scampton from where the Dambusters Raids of May 16, 1943, had taken off.

In the clip above Forces Radio BFBS Germany's Chris Pearson speaks to those who took part.

This was the latest challenge for the members of The April Fools Club following a recreation of the famous Yomp across the Falkland Islands by the Royal Marines in 1982.

Former RAF regular Squadron Leader Andy Mewes, is now a reservist with 600 Squadron based at RAF Northolt.

He was among the cyclists who made the journey which ended on the small road which runs across the top of the rebuilt dam wall. He said:

“To get here today and cycle across the dam itself was quite emotional.

"This is about remembering all of those who lost their lives.”

WATCH footage of the journey below.

Members of The April Fools Club arrive at the Mohne Dam on Saturday afternoon. They’d cycled from Lincolnshire, raising funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund Hear the full story on Forces Radio BFBS Germany

Posted by BFBS Germany on Sunday, 20 May 2018

 

Operation Chastise was the official name of the Dambusters raid by 617 Squadron of the Royal Air Force on May 16, 1943.

That night, three different dams were attacked across Germany, two of which were successfully breached.

In all, the squadron lost eight aircraft and suffered the loss of 53 aircrews, with three others taken prisoner.

On the ground, the sheer force of water pouring from the smashed dam walls brought death and destruction across huge swathes of land.

It is estimated that 1,600 people were killed by the floods including around 1,000, mainly Soviet Prisoners of War held by the Germans.

Alongside the Möhne Dam’s northern shore is a stone memorial dedicated to all those who died as a result of the raids.

The riders and locals joined together for a short service at the site, lead by a local vicar.

People were then invited to join in with the Lord’s Prayer in either German or English.

A surprise guest on the day was Paul Morely. He had traveled from his home in Canada to be at the site in honour of his uncle, Lancaster Bomber front gunner Sergeant Frank Garbas.

Frank’s aircraft AJ-B ‘Baker’ crashed at low level en route to the Möhne that night 75 years ago.

Paul was taken aback by the effort being made to remember his uncle and fellow crewmembers.

“I’m very pleased and happy that the crew are not forgotten.”

Paul Morely Nephew Of Lancaster Bomber Front Gunner Sgt Frank Garbas Möhne Dam Chris Pearson Forces Radio BFBS
Paul Morely, nephew of Sgt Frank Garbas

Britain’s Air Attached in Germany, Group Captain Roly Smith was there to meet the riders. He said:

“It’s the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force and the 75th anniversary of the raids on the dams, so to be here bringing the two parts of that puzzle together is an immense privilege and honour.”

So far the efforts of the April Fools Club have raised nearly £500,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund and the team are already thinking about their next challenge.

Cover Image: Crown Copyright C.Sully

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