It was 77 years ago today that 19 Avro Lancasters of 617 Squadron RAF took off from Scampton in the UK. Their mission, Operation Chastise, was to breach the dams of the Ruhr valley in Germany. These bombers and crew became known as the ‘Dambusters’.
The video above was uploaded to YouTube in May of 2019 by The Operations Room. I enjoy their videos. I have posted about them before.
The planes were to fly only a little over 800 miles round trip. To give you some perspective, that is like traveling round trip from Austin, TX to New Orleans, LA. They were to fly low, at about 60 feet for much of the flight. As they approached their targets the 60-foot altitude was critical. The bombers would release their cylindrical bombs and let them bounce across the water. They were to bounce over the torpedo nets, then impact the dam.
Some question the strategic value of the mission. It was a major publicity victory for the British. The attack destroyed two hydroelectric power stations and damaged others. Factories and mines in the valley were also damaged or destroyed. An estimated 1,600 civilians died. The Germans committed to a rapid repair program. Production did not return to normal until September.
The repair effort did commit a large number of workers to the repair efforts. The German military also reinforced the Ruhr valley with many more antiaircraft installations.
Further Reading / Listening
- Dambusters pilot Les Munro dies – Operation Chastise
- The Dambusters
- World War II: Operation Chastise
- Operation Chastise
- The Dambusters and the Möhne Dam
- OPERATION CHASTISE – THE DAM BUSTERS
- Video – Dambusters Declassified Documentary
- History Extra Podcast 4/25/13 – Britain’s Last Dambuster
- History Extra Podcast 9/19/2019 – Max Hastings on the Dambusters
If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest.
- The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 400 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
- The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
- The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.