On the night of May 16th, 1943, 19 Lancaster bombers took off from England heading toward the German industrial heartland of the Ruhr. They carried a new bomb, designed to skip across water avoiding any torpedo nets before hitting the target and sinking into the depths; then exploding.. The bomb was codenamed ‘upkeep’, we know it today as the ‘bouncing bomb’ designed by Barnes Wallis.
Those Lancaster’s of 617 squadron, commanded 24 year old Guy Gibson would become known as the ‘Dam Busters’, the operation was CHASTISE. The mission would be a success, as in two of the targeted dams were hit and breached causing millions of tons of water to surge down into the Ruhr region, flooding mines, destroying factories and homes.
The crews that survived the raid would arrive back in Britain as celebrities, swept up in the wartime propaganda; and of course memorialised in books such as Paul Brickhill’s ‘The ‘Dam Busters’, of which the well known 1955 film is based.
Joining me to discuss the raid is Victoria Taylor.
Victoria is a Post Graduate Researcher at the University of Hull. Her MA thesis is Redressing the Wartime and Postwar Mythologization of Operation CHASTISE in Britain.
Recommended books about operation Chastise.
Cooper, Alan W. The Men Who Breached the Dams. Pen & Sword Books, 2013.
Holland, James. Dam Busters. Random House, 2012.
Sweetman, Dr John. The Dambusters Raid (Cassell Military Paperbacks). W&N, 1999.