27 2 mins 10 yrs

When I was a three year-old boy, 133 brave young men of British and Allied nationalities flew against the German war machine in nineteen Lancaster bombers. They flew in the knowledge that the statistics were against their safe return, but they knew that their job was to carry the war to the enemy. They flew aircraft, heavily-laden with weaponry which had never been fully tested against their targets; revolutionary cylindrical shaped bombs which would be spun up to rotate before being dropped into the waters which were held back by three huge German dams in the Ruhr. Fifty-three men died in those attacks, which broke two of the dams and damaged the German war effort considerably.

This evening I watched a re-run of the Dambusters film, which was preceded by a very strange, in fact ludicrous, warning to the viewers of possible offense being taken at some of the language used during the film, itself made in 1954, some fifty-eight years ago.

I wasn’t offended because we were repeatedly told that Guy Gibson’s black Labrador was named ‘Nigger’, and I don’t really reckon anyone else, with any normal sense or sensibilities, would have been ‘offended’ either!

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27 thoughts on “Normal service will be resumed…..

  1. This curse of racism is reaching ridiculous extremes. As a kid I was told that sticks and stones may break my bones but calling never hurt me, and there is something in that. Nowadays we are altering history to try to ensure that no racial abuse is ever evident. What we should be aiming for is a culture where I can call a black man a black bastard and he can reply by calling me a white bastard and NOBODY takes offence. Now that would be an advance in relationship between the races.

  2. This is a tired old complaint and has been posted on here before about this film and the dog called Nigger. Nigger is undeniably a very offensive and derogatory word but it is not being censored or altered in the showing of the film so simply informing viewers of it’s use in this film is perfectly appropriate. There is nothing to justifyingly complain about here.

  3. Nigger is (or was) a colour. I remember my mother knitting me a sweater in the colour, and being told to wear my nigger jumper. I suspect if anyone had a copy of a colour chart for the forties or fifties it would be shown. We now have to call the dogs chocolate Labradors!
    Incidentally, my cousin (some 20 years older than me) was posted to 617 squdn as a replacement after the dams raid. He was subsequently decorated for his part in the attack on the Tirpitz, something he never mentioned and I never knew until I read his obituary a few years ago.

  4. “Fifty-three men died in those attacks, which broke two of the dams and damaged the German war effort considerably.”

    Rubbish. For the Germans the dam raids were little more than a nuisance; full electricity and water production had been restored just a few weeks afterwards.
    The RAF on the other hand lost 8 large bombers after a raid that had been 2 years in the making.

    And your “Fifty-three men died in those attacks” represents only a small fraction of the real figure. Around 1,500 people were killed, the majority foreign forced labourers. Most of them were in fact young Russian and Ukrainian women, so of course they can’t be counted among the men, and maybe that’s why you omitted them.
    However, even the men included many Allied prisoners of war, indeed probably more British soldiers were killed by the friendly dambusters than by the German defences that night.

  5. Peter T
    I do agree with your
    “What we should be aiming for is a culture where I can call a black man a black bastard and he can reply by calling me a white bastard and NOBODY takes offence.”

    It’s been said before that humans as animals are tribal; and find much of their personal identity in belonging.
    Firstly to their immediate family, their circle of friends, their wider family and their community and (except for the English), their nationality. 🙂
    Socially we are always evaluating and differentiating.
    When we were a homogenous society it was on the basis of class, education, profession/job, fatness/thinness, glasses/buck teeth/ginger hair…you get the picture.
    Now we are a multicultural society, we add to that mix colour and race.
    Just as people do all around the world in India,China and Africa
    Welcome to the human race!
    Nigger is an offensive term, but it wasn’t when the film was made.
    I expect in years to come films will be made where pets answer to the name “Honkie” or “Cracker”, and at the beginning of the film there will be little historical footnotes in Arabic or Mandarin explaining the significance…. 😉

  6. I’m just amazed that “nigger” has not yet been dubbed to “tigger”. And I have no doubt that it will be eventually. Otherwise this film will be banned as “racist”.

  7. Or even Winnie the Goo..
    Twiglet instead of Piglet (thus avoiding offence to some)

    I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist that one Colm. 😉

    BTW what do you think of the “Sherlock Lite” stuff that’s being shown on tv. Is this yet another example of rewriting literature?

  8. I recall an amusing outbreak of PC in the US when somebody used the word ‘niggardly’ to describe the budget for come promotion. Unfortunately, the term was used within earshot of a black colleague who reported the man for using ‘racist’ terminology. The offender then hit back that he was being picked on because he was homosexual. Wonderful stuff for the PC-world.

  9. “Sorry. We did win the thing you know.”

    Denying that would be as silly as denying the uncomfortable deaths of thousands of innocents, as Mike does.

  10. Points you failed to consider Noel,
    1/ We won the war.
    2/ The raid was a spectacular success.
    3/ It let the Nazi’s know that Britain could strike anytime/ anywhere, with impunity.
    4/ As Speer himself admitted the RAF forced the Nazi’s to divert scarce resources away from the Russian front to defend the Reich against air attacks. Millions of shell’s, thousands of cannons etc.
    5/ The Russian forced workers were very probably going to be killed by Stalin anyway. He viewed any Russian POW’s as traitors for surrendering and had most executed. Ever here the phrase ‘Not one step back’ about Stalingrad? Not much grey area there from Uncle Joe.
    6/ Speer had to divert workers and scarce building materials from the Atlantic wall to repair the dams. So arguably on D Day the allies (but for the raid) could have been faced by even more formidable obstacles.
    7/ It raised moral amongst POWs and the resistance groups in the occupied territories.

  11. Nigger is in the Dictionary. It’s a legitimate, albeit P.C. word.

    NOW,

    Here’s a real hoot that is brought to us by the ever rediculous Republic of Ireland “intellectual politicians.

    Speaking of Politically Correct words:

    The following words are “officially” banned in the Irish parliament (Dáil)

    •brat
    •buffoon
    •chancer
    •communist
    •corner boy
    •coward
    •fascist
    •gurrier
    •guttersnipe
    .rat
    •scumbag
    •scurrilous
    •yahoo
    •handbagging
    •hypocrite

    BUT,

    It has emerged that the F-word (F**K) is not one of the abusive expressions outlawed in the parliament’s 83-page document “Salient Rulings of the Chair”.

  12. 1/ We won the war.

    I still don’t see the relevance of this astute observation. The war was certainly not won by acts which probably cost the British more resources than the Germans.
    In fact the major loss to the German war effort was all those Russian (but also British) prisoners killed.
    But as we know, there were plenty to replace them, hence the valleys’ recovery from the raids within a few weeks.

    2/ The raid was a spectacular success.

    They succeeded in breaking two of the four dams they attacked. But they misread the military importance of the destruction. Five weeks later the dams had been repaired and all production was back to normal. A few more “spectacular successes” like that and the war would have continued until the Russians were in Paris.

    3/ It let the Nazi’s know that Britain could strike anytime/ anywhere, with impunity.

    Oh rubbish. You mean the British didnt really want to bomb the V-weapons silos and preferred to let these deadly missiles down on London for the next two years?
    Of course they could have killed “with impunity” Hitler and the entire Nazi leadership and destroyed the German war industry, but .. well, preferred to leave them there and enjoy the war while it lasted, I suppose.

    4/ As Speer himself admitted the RAF forced the Nazi’s to divert scarce resources away from the Russian front to defend the Reich against air attacks. Millions of shell’s, thousands of cannons etc.

    Not with these raids. In fact, Speer was amazed precisely that the British did not destroy the economic potential of the valleys, which they – he said – could easily have done by following up the dam raids with regular bomb attacks to prevent their repair. He couldn’t believe why the RAF didn’t do this, and in fact allowed the damage done to be remedied within weeks. The raids themselves were little more than a nuisance.

    5/ The Russian forced workers were very probably going to be killed by Stalin anyway. He viewed any Russian POW’s as traitors for surrendering and had most executed.

    Most of the Russian (incl. Ukrainian) labourers weren’t POWs, but civilians abducted from their homeland and forced into slavery. Most were young women working in the textile industries. There were about 5 million such Russians in Germany at the end of the war and most survived the aftermath.

    But I take your point that killing them was OK because they may have died anyway.
    I think the IRA tried that argument too once.

    6/ Speer had to divert workers and scarce building materials from the Atlantic wall to repair the dams. So arguably on D Day the allies (but for the raid) could have been faced by even more formidable obstacles.

    Very poor history here. The German’s didnt expect an invasion in Normandy. Besides, that happened over a year later.

    7/ It raised moral amongst POWs and the resistance groups in the occupied territories.

    Hmmm, probably not among all those POWs killed by the raid and their friends.

    BTW, for all those who can’t seen my point, it was that people who deliberately turn a blind eye to civilian deaths, and in this case do their best to ignore them, are almost always the ones who are so easily seduced by cheap propaganda into supporting the start of a new “clean” war, like Shock ‘n Awe, as this post and the comments show.

  13. This is good. Like watching a great tennis match. Currently Noel has won two sets and is on his way to match point.

  14. Noel, you seem to know what you are thinking about but re: Normandy, I thought I had read the germans kept some divisions back as they thought an invasion (or part of one) could come from there? (obviously a huge amount has also been written about the diversion effort to make them think that).
    Do you have any links etc to what you are saying on this matter?

  15. To be strictly pedantic it should be “know what you are typing on a keyboard about” 😉

  16. 1/ We won the war.

    Noel wrote…I still don’t see the relevance of this astute observation.

    Simply this. As the victors WE get to write the history.

    A small amount of research found this…
    The effect on food production was more significant with many square kilometers of arable land being washed away and effectively unusable until the 1950s. There was also a great loss of farm animals bred for food.

    Another item you didn’t appreciate.

  17. “Simply this. As the victors WE get to write the history”

    Dog – With that comment you are actually making Noel’s point for him.

  18. “Do you have any links etc to what you are saying on this matter?”

    Paddy, look up anything on Op. Overlord. The Germans expected an invasion practically everywhere on the coast of Europe from northern Norway to Greece. Normandy was not high on the list and was accordingly, unlike Pas de Calais etc, not reinforced, not least due to brilliant deception – turning spies, double bluffs, tons of chaff, etc. – on the part of the British

    Cheers, Colm. Unlike other Irish hotheads I will not argue with the umpire.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8Nyc9jzSDg&feature=related

    “As the victors WE get to write the history””

    Exactly. I was talking about real history, you guys about propaganda.

  19. •brat
    •buffoon
    •chancer
    •communist
    •corner boy
    •coward
    •fascist
    •gurrier
    •guttersnipe
    .rat
    •scumbag
    •scurrilous
    •yahoo
    •handbagging
    •hypocrite
    Eddie, you realise of course that you are also describing most of ATW contributors!
    But WHO best fits WHICH word?? 😉

  20. I can understand someone objecting to them dubbing out the dog’s name, but I fail to see how it’s unreasonable just to issue viewers with a warning.

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