A former minister has said he is “fearful” of the rewriting of history after a memorial to a Dambusters’ dog – whose name is a racial slur – was changed.
The mascot for 617 Squadron, a black Labrador died on the day of its famous “bouncing bomb” raid on German dams in 1943.
His name had been used by Wing Commander Guy Gibson as a code word to say the dam had been breached.
A memorial at the Dambusters' Second World War base, RAF Scampton, bearing the dog's name has now been changed by the RAF, who said it did not want to give prominence to an offensive term that went against its ethos.
The move comes amid an ongoing debate over statues and memorials that include racist connotations or background, following the toppling of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol during Black Lives Matter protests.
But Conservative former minister Sir Edward Leigh, whose constituency includes Scampton, has written to the RAF station commander voicing his concerns about the ‘re-writing’ of history.
He said: “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 re-write history,”
“The past needs to be explained, taught about, and learned from – not re-written. Wing Cdr 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.”
Film versions of the The Dam Busters have also edited out the dog’s name or given him the name Trigger.
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