RAF Lancaster bomber

One Of The Last Survivors Of The Dambusters Raid Dies

Fred Sutherland was an air gunner on a Lancaster bomber which attacked German dams in 1943.

RAF Lancaster bomber

A historic Lancaster bomber performs a flypast at an airshow.

Fred Sutherland, one of the last two surviving airman from the famous Dambusters raid, has died aged 95.

The Canadian was the front gunner in a Lancaster bomber which was sent to Germany to attack the Eder dam in May 1943.

617 Squadron deployed the iconic 'bouncing bomb' which had to be dropped above the water at an exact height of 60 feet and a speed of 220mph.

"Operation Chastise" saw the crews successfully breach the Mohne and Eder dams in Germany's Ruhr Valley.

Fred Sutherland was one of the last two surviving Dambusters.
Fred Sutherland was one of the last two survivors of the 1943 Dambusters raid (Picture: Sutherland Family).

Frederick Edwin Sutherland was born in Peace River, Alberta, Canada on 26 February 1923.

From a young age, he had wanted to fly and had dreams of becoming a bush pilot, but the war put paid to that, so he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941, as soon as he turned 18.

After initial training he volunteered for air gunner duties.

He arrived in England in 1942, and crewed up with Australian pilot Les Knight and his future colleagues at a training unit before they were all posted to 50 Squadron in September of that year.

He flew on 25 operations with Knight before the whole crew volunteered to transfer to the new 617 Squadron in March 1943.

Lancaster bombers pay tribute to dDambusters raid
Lancaster bombers pay tribute to Dambusters raid.

Sutherland's last mission saw him and his crew take part on a raid on the Dortmund Ems canal in Germany in September 1943.

But his aircraft was hit over Holland and he was forced to bale out. All the seven men in his crew escaped and survived. Unfortunately the pilot Les Knight was killed while trying to crash land in a field outside the village of Den Ham.

Sutherland was smuggled back to Britain, but any airman who evaded capture was not allowed to fly over occupied Europe again in case they were captured and gave up the secrets of the underground resistance. So Sutherland was sent on training duties and then later in that year he was sent home to Canada.

Fred Sutherland
Fred Sutherland was demobbed from the Royal Canadian Air Force in November 1944 (Picture: Sutherland Family).

After a spell as an instructor, Sutherland left the Royal Canadian Air Force in November 1944.

He never forgot that he was lucky to have survived the war while many of his comrades did not.

Squadron Leader George "Johnny" Johnson is now thought to be the last surviving member of the Dambusters raid.