I WAS delighted recently to hear from my old friend Rick Pickett who emailed me this intriguing letter.

“During the 30 years that I had music shops in Salisbury, I was approached by a very lovely elderly couple carrying a bag filled with musical regalia. They asked me if I would be interested in buying this stuff as they had no further use or interest in it. I had a look and agreed a price with them that they were very happy with.

During my conversation with them, the gentleman enthusiastically told me that he had been a Dambuster during the war. I was very impressed and honoured to be in the company of a Dambuster!

The most interesting item was a very ornate brass clad mandolin banjo. This would have been manufactured by John Grey & Sons during the 1930’s.

It was in a poor state of repair but not beyond hope.

In the bottom of the case were two scraps of paper still showing partial details of a bouncing bomb exercise.

Salisbury Journal:

This certainly added some credence to the credentials of its previous owner.

I have since totally refurbished the instrument. However, I have never been able to discover any further information relating to its history.

My only lead is the contained scraps of paper with some numbers and a signature.

I have attached a picture. Perhaps somebody might be able to add some knowledge to this story?”

In fact, when The Dam Busters film was shown at the Regal, Salisbury, a gentleman called Mr John Sykes was invited to the gala performance.

Mr Sykes who was living at 78 Woodside Road, had flown as an air gunner in the Dambusters raid and he lived to tell the tale.

I wonder if he was the man who sold the mandolin banjo to Mr Pickett?


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