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Memorial to Dambusters’ dog changed to remove racist name

Film versions of The Dam Busters have either edited out the name or given him the moniker Trigger.

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Guy Gibson used a modified Lancaster BI in the raid (Ministry of Defence/PA)

Guy Gibson used a modified Lancaster BI in the raid (Ministry of Defence/PA)

Guy Gibson used a modified Lancaster BI in the raid (Ministry of Defence/PA)

The headstone of a grave to the Dambusters’ dog – whose name is a racial slur – has been altered.

The 617 Squadron, based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, undertook a low-level night attack on German dams in 1943, probably the most famous raid in the history of the force.

Wing Commander Guy Gibson used his dog’s name as a code word to say the dam has been breached, with the Labrador Retriever dying on the same night as the raid.

The headstone at Scampton bearing the dog’s name, N*****, has been removed, while film versions of The Dam Busters have either edited out the name or given him the moniker Trigger instead.

A source at the RAF said the gravestone will be stored in a safe location while the Air Historical Branch considers its next steps.

It is understood that the RAF’s review of its historical assets is continuing and further changes may be made as work progresses.

The past needs to be explained, taught about, and learned from - not rewrittenSir Edward Leigh

Conservative former minister Sir Edward Leigh, whose constituency includes Scampton, wrote to the RAF station commander saying: “Undoubtedly we are both more sensitive and more sensible today when it comes to the delicateness of racialist and derogatory terminology which had been used with unfortunate informality in the past.

“It is perfectly understandable that this is a tricky matter to which there are no simple or easy solutions.”

“I am, however, very fearful of our ability today to erase or rewrite history.

“The past needs to be explained, taught about, and learned from – not rewritten.

“Wing Commander Gibson’s dog was much loved by the Dambusters and was killed while he was on a raid risking his life to defend our country.”

A spokesman for the RAF said: “As part of an ongoing review of its historical assets, the RAF have replaced the gravestone of Guy Gibson’s dog at RAF Scampton.

“The new gravestone tells the story of Guy Gibson’s dog, but its name has been removed.”

It is understood the decision was taken in order to not give prominence to an offensive term that goes against the modern RAF’s ethos.

PA