World War two
Operation 'Chastise'

The Dambusters Raid


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On the night of 16th/17th May 1943, 617 squadron carried out a low level attack on three dams in the Ruhr Valley.
They were the Moehne, the Sorpe and the Edar. There were also three other Dams that could of been attacked also,
they were, the Schwelm, Ennepe and the Diemel.

The Avro Lancasters of the squadron each carried one special bomb that was able to bounce over defensive netting. Wing Commander Gibson led the attack. It took five attempts to breach the Moehne Dam. Gibson then led the three remaining Lancasters to attack the Eder Dam. Of the three, two - the Moehne and Eder were breached whilst the Sorpe remained largely undamaged.

8 of 19 dispatched Lancaster bombers and 56 men did not return. The breached dams did not have very much effect on the German industry and it was not long before the dams were repaired. However, one thing the Dambusters did do was raise the morale of the British which was sorely needed after four years of war.


Moehne Dam before the raid 5 April 1943 Eder Dam before raid
The Moehne Dam
Taken by 541 Sqn on the 5 April 1943.
The Edar Dam can be seen just before the cloud covered it.
Taken by 542 Sqn on the 13th May 1943.
Method of attacking the dams
The above Diagram shows the method of attack that 617 Sqn would have to do to destroy the dams.


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The first reconnaissance aircraft over the target was a Spitfire PR.XI from 542 Squadron, flown by Flying Officer Jerry Fray. He had left RAF Benson at 07:30hrs to ensure that he could be at the Dams at first light.
Two other sorties were flown over the Dams that day. The resulting photographs were the first to be published in the press. Up until then all reconnaissance tasking had been carried out under the strictest secrecy.


Moehne Dam the day after the raid The Edar dam post raid
The Moehne dam the day after the raid.
Water can still be seen flooding through the hole.
The Edar dam on the 17th May.
As with the Moehne, water is still pouring through the breach.
Sorpe dam after the raid Enlargement of Sorpe dam
These two images show that the Sorpe was damaged but it was not breach.

German sources tell us that 1069 were killed and 225 listed missed for the Moehne-raid. Most victims were Ukrainian 'women', "Fremdarbeiterinnen" (foreign workers - 'slave workers' would be a more honest translation) from a camp near Neheim. Due to the thin population of the Eder-valley the number of victims here was much less, listed as 69.

Of the surviving aircrew 33 were decorated by the King, Wing Commander Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross.


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Kings looks at photos
King meets Dambuster crews
The King views imagery from the raid.
The King meets the Dambusters crews after the raid.

This last image is from German archives. It shows the breach of the Eder Dam.

Moehne dam from German archive

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