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World War II 'Dambuster’ bounces back the years at Burhill Golf Club

May 15, 2013

Burhill Golf Club, whose clubhouse served as the headquarters for Sir Barnes Wallis, who developed the bouncing bomb there, has welcomed back a member of his team, for a BBC News feature.

In June 1940, the Ministry of Aircraft Production requisitioned Burhill's entire clubhouse and a workforce of more than 300, headed by Wallis moved into the premises, where the team was responsible for the design of several aircraft and weapons during World War II.

Martin Aitchison, 94, an artist by trade, was employed in the Georgian mansion in the early 1940s and returned to what is now known as the Barnes Wallis Suite, to take part in the BBC's coverage marking the 70 th anniversary of Operation Chastise (May 17, 1943), more commonly known as the Dambusters raid.

Profoundly deaf from childhood, Martin was precluded from active duty and instead went to work on Wallis' staff at Burhill Golf Club, where he originally intended to put his flair for drawing and art into becoming an engineer.

However, lacking the necessary mathematics knowledge to do so, Martin was put to work creating diagrams and artwork for the handbooks of aircraft being designed by Wallis. 

When Barnes Wallis designed the bouncing-bomb, few understood how it worked and Martin was asked to create an artistic impression of the effects they would have, to convince the government to back the bombs' development.

Talking to the BBC about his experience, Martin said: "I never felt under pressure from work, but everything we worked on was top secret. Occasionally the tea lady would take an interest in one of my drawings so we had to make up elaborate stories about what they were for."

After the war, Martin went on to become an illustrator and artist, most notably for The Eagle comic and later for Ladybird Books. 

David Cook, Burhill Golf Club General Manager, said: "It was an honour to meet Martin and hear about his experience here during the war. 

"It is too easy to forget what work took place here as recently as 70 years ago, and it's humbling to be in the presence of someone who was part of such an important and well-known operation."

For further details visit or call 01932 227345.

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