Wing Commander Guy Gibson with members of his crew of 617 Squadron © IWM (TR 1127)
This week marks the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters raid. Next summer when our new atrium fully re-opens we’ll have a piece of the bar from the Petwood Hotel where the off-duty aircrews involved in the Dambusters raid would relax and socialise. A recent acquisition by IWM, this will be the first time the bar has ever been on public display.
Seventy years ago, on the night of 16–17 May 1943, Wing Commander Guy Gibson led an audacious bombing raid to destroy three dams in the Ruhr valley, the industrial heartland of Germany. The dams were fiercely protected. Torpedo nets in the water stopped underwater attacks and anti-aircraft guns defended them against enemy bombers. But 617 Squadron had a secret weapon: the ‘bouncing bomb’.
We’ve taken some archive footage of a Dambusters bouncing bomb test and turned it into an animated gif.
You can find out more about the Dambusters raid on our website here.
Hi, I’m Amelia. I’m currently undertaking a student volunteer placement at IWM London and was lucky enough to join the IWM Youth Advisors Ruben, Elana, Zipporah, Kevin and Josiah for their April meeting. This was a packed day focusing on the changes that the museum is currently undergoing.
We started with an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour led by Geoff Burningham, Senior Construction Manager. It was a brilliant chance to see first-hand the redevelopment of the museum. It was amazing to see how much the museum has already changed and to use our imaginations to picture what it will look like in the future.
P51D Mustang being prepared by our team of expert conservators for lowering at IWM London.
This past week, the last of our 65 large objects, the P51D Mustang – which has been suspended 15m high in our Large Exhibits Gallery for over 20 years – was lowered by a team of expert conservators before being transported to IWM Duxford to be conserved in our public hangar Conservation in Action.
The remains of Surrey Lodge, an apartment building destroyed by a V2 rocket on 4 January 1945. The photograph was apparently taken on the following day and graphically shows how a 5 storey building was reduced to rubble. Image courtesy of Lambeth Archives.
Barely 150 metres from IWM London today is the site of the most destructive explosion in Lambeth during the Second World War, which killed 43 people. Just before 8.30pm on the night of Thursday 4 January 1945 a huge explosion destroyed an apartment building, Surrey Lodge, on the corner of Kennington Road and Lambeth Road. The old Lambeth Baths and a chapel on the opposite side of Lambeth Road were also severely damaged. The blast also extensively damaged the northern and western sides of the Imperial War Museum as well as many surrounding buildings.
Since 1989, five historic aircraft have soared overhead, suspended from the ceiling in our Large Exhibits Gallery at IWM London. Last month the first of these aircraft, a Sopwith Camel, was lowered to the ground and dismantled for safe transport as we prepare for the redevelopment of IWM London in January 2013.
Check out the timelapse video above to see how we did it.
Moving a gun into the Imperial Institute in 1924. 275 loads of exhibits weighing approximately 800 tons were moved during this period, with only three instances of minor damage to objects reported. IWM (Q 36932)
Museum objects are seldom static – displays, exhibitions and research material move around all the time. Transforming IWM London is just the latest in a long series of major moves, from the move to Crystal Palace in 1920, to the opening of AirSpace at IWM Duxford in 2006.
As the video above says: ‘Such size might have awed and stupefied. But the call today is for mobility and speed.’
Keep your eyes peeled today if you’re in London or near Duxford, Cambridgeshire. The first of our large exhibits will be making its way through London to IWM Duxford on a street near you.
You may recognise the gun in this photo as one of the large objects which confront you as you enter IWM London’s famous atrium. It is our French 75mm quickfiring field gun.