Plaque to be unveiled at home of former Dambuster pilot
Over a month ago
A blue plaque will be unveiled this month at the former home of a Dambuster pilot Bill Townsend.
The unveiling of the blue plaque will be held at the home in Hardwick Avenue, Chepstow, after it was recently revealed Mr Townsend lived and grew up in the town.
Plans to hold a ceremony, first put forward by the Royal British Legion to mark the 75th anniversary of the raid, were supported by town councillors at a full meeting on March 28th.
Flight Sgt Bill Townsend from Chepstow won the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal and Distinguished Flying Medal for his wartime exploits with the RAF’s 617 Squadron.
The former Monmouth School pupil, later promoted to Flight Lieutenant, led the final wave of Lancaster bombers on the dams on May 17, 1943, and the unveiling of the commemorative plaque outside his home in Hardwick Avenue will take place exactly 75 years to the day on Thursday, May 17.
It has been designed, made and donated by Ned Heywood MBE and the public ceremony, starting around 6pm, will include a fly-over from a Lancaster to mark the occasion.
A community band will perform and a screening of the Dambusters film will be shown at the Drill Hall during the week.
The event will be open to the public and will also include a VIP list.
Fellow Old Monmothian Bob Blake, 90, who grew up in Coleford, said: “Bill was a tremendous character, a good rugby player and a very nice man. He was several years senior to me, but we became contemporaries at Oxford.”
Mr Townsend, who died in 1991, was a pupil at the school from 1932 to 1940 and returned to talk to the school’s Air Training Corps about the Ruhr Dam raid.
Mr Blake later introduced a cup in his name – the F/Sgt William C Townsend CGM DFM (OM) Trophy – presented annually to the school’s best RAF cadet.
Monmouth School for Boys headmaster Dr Andrew Daniel, said: “We are tremendously proud of Mr Townsend’s involvement with the 617 Squadron in the Dambusters raid.
“We present a Combined Cadet Force award each year in tribute to Mr Townsend and we are very proud of the school’s strong military connections.”