#Dambusters75 coin presented to Porthcawl Museum

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

– Events

by GEM Staff ReporterGEM Reporter

The London Mint Office (LMO) made a special donation to Porthcawl Museum on August 11 to mark the area’s strong links with Op Chastise – the famous Dams Raid – which took place 75 years ago in May 1943.

A spokesperson said: “The LMO prides itself on putting history into the hands of its customers, and it did just that when its resident Historian and Cultural Ambassador, Justin Robinson, presented the museum with a special commemorative Operation Chastise Mission Pack and a limited-edition £1 coin.

The pack contains accurate replicas of the blueprints, photographs, maps, plans, and other documents that were used to brief 617 Squadron for their historic night-time mission over Nazi Germany. These will be displayed at the museum together with a commemorative coin struck to mark the anniversary.

The event also welcomed Belinda Brown, the second cousin of one of the crew of the Dams Raid, Sergeant Gordon Yeo. She will be bringing along some treasured family mementoes to honour the Barry man, who was the only Welshman to take part in the mission.

South Wales has a unique connection to the daring Dambusters Mission, which successfully breached German dams with a new ‘bouncing bomb’ – technically a mine – codenamed Upkeep.

No less than 14 of the 16 aircraft involved in the mission included crew who had trained at RAF Saint Athan, and RAF Stormy Down, near Pyle.

The connections with the area go further.

Wing Commander Guy Gibson, who led the raid, married Eve Moore from Penarth.

Mr Robinson said: “Gordon Yeo was born in Barry in 1922, and joined the fledgling 617 Sqn as a gunner. He was, at 20, the youngest member of the crew that successfully breached the Möhne Dam. Their actions under heavy fire caused catastrophic flooding in the region and major disruption to the Nazi war machine.”

All seven crew members lost their lives when their Lancaster aircraft was shot down over the Dutch coast as they tried to return home.

Mr Robinson continued: Mr Robinson said: “On behalf of The London Mint Office, we’re delighted to present to the museum the Dambusters top secret mission pack and a commemorative one pound coin in honour of Squadron 617.

“South Wales had very close ties to the Dambusters and their efforts must not go unnoticed as one of the great feats in history that led our country to victory. Squadron 617 were heroes and it’s great to see that still today, their work is being honoured in their local towns.”

Belinda took the opportunity to donate a piece of wreckage from Sgt Yeo’s Lancaster to Paul Joseph, chairman of Porthcawl Museum. This and a number of other fragments had been recovered from the crash site and passed on to Belinda by a Dutch museum when she visited the crash site.

A memorial to Sgt Yeo’s bomber crew was unveiled on May 18 in northern Holland, marking the raid’s 75th anniversary.

The memorial was made using money raised by family members and local people at Castricum aan Zee, near to the scene where their bomber, AJ-A, crashed into the sea on their journey home.

Also in attendance at the event was Russ Kitely who is the chair of the 617 Group based in Barry and Penarth.

The group aims to support veterans of HM Armed Forces and emergency services and their families, as well as provide education about the Armed Forces and emergency services to the general public, especially young people.

Mr Kitely and other members of the group have produced a video to mark the 75 anniversary of the Dambusters raid which he shared with guests before the presentation

Mr Robinson said:

“The London Mint Office is delighted to present this commemorative pack and coin to the Museum to pay tribute to Gordon Yeo’s bravery in volunteering for one of the most dangerous missions of the war, and to remember South Wales’ close ties to the Dambusters.

Rob Taylor, of Porthcawl Museum said: “The Op Chastise pack will enhance the small exhibition that Porthcawl Museum already has to the Dambusters as part of the RAF 100 display on show.

“The museum is in the process of obtaining an authentic RAF hut to make a permanent RAF exhibition in the grounds of the museum and this pack would then become a valued part of that project.”

Belinda Brown said: “It’s an honour to be invited to talk about my second cousin Gordon Yeo and the part that he played in the Dambusters mission.

“I’ve spent years researching his story and so it’s wonderful to see his memory lives on thanks to The London Mint Office’s work and Porthcawl Museum. As part of his tribute, I am donating a part of the plane wreckage that was salvaged to Porthcawl Museum.”

Gem Reporter/David Swidenbank.

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