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OM Hall of Fame

The Old Marlburian Hall of Fame is designed, by referencing OMs who have achieved something notable, contributing to the progress of human well-being, in arts, sciences, sport, the military or other, to inspire the Marlburians of the present. 

An additional aim is to put the spotlight on someone overlooked, and perhaps lost in the history of the College or the College website.


John Hopgood (C1 1935-39) and David Maltby (B3 1934-36)

Hopgood and Maltby were WW2 ace pilots in 617 Squadron, and took part in the famous “Dambusters’ Raid” to destroy a dam in the German industrial heartland of the Ruhr, using a novel bouncing bomb invented by Barnes Wallis. 

John  had won a place at Cambridge with the aim of becoming a solicitor while David had left Marlborough for a career in mining engineering: but at the outbreak of war both enlisted in the RAF, and by 1943 both were highly experienced bomber pilots.  After seven weeks’ training at low altitude (tree-top level), they set off on the mission, and just over two hours later they arrived over their target, having flown so low to get there that Hopgood had actually flown under an electricity cable.

Hopgood’s “M for Mother” plane was hit by flak defences and caught fire, but he stayed at the controls to gain enough height to allow his crew a chance of bailing out: three succeeded (of which two survived, and then the plane crashed and exploded, a sight witnessed by Maltby, circling above.  Maltby’s bomb was to hit the target successfully, but the mission cost 8 Lancasters and fifty-four dead crew (roughly a 40% death-rate). The Squadron Leader, Guy Gibson, received a VC, and Maltby a DSO to add to his DFC, but he was killed later in the same year over the North Sea, leaving a widow and a ten- week -old son.  1,600 civilians were killed as a result of the raid, including a large number of slave-workers.   There is some controversy about how successful, strategically speaking the raid turned out to be.

In tribute to Hopgood, his bomb-aimer Flt/Sgt Fraser of the Canadian Air Force, who had bailed from the plane and survived, named his son John Hopgood and called his daughter Shere, after Hopgood’s home village in Surrey.

Clare Russell & Terry Rogers
College Archivists

Copyright 2011



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