No single raid during World War Two has attracted more discussion, analysis, features, books, interviews, or been the subject of more films, documentaries, and TV programmes than the famous attack mounted by the RAFs 617 Squadron upon the mighty hydroelectric dams in Westphalia, on the night of 16/17 May, 1943. Led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, nineteen specially adapted Lancaster bombers, manned by 133 aircrew, culminated months of secret training when they made one of the most audacious raids of the war. Flying at tree-top height in darkness, and doing their best to avoid electricity pylons and other obstructions, they navigated their way deep into occupied territory. Their targets were the huge Mohne, Sorpe, Ennepe, and Eder Dams that powered Germanys huge industrial factories in the heartland of the Rhur. Each bomber had to avoid enemy flak and fighters en route, locate their target, descend to precisely 60 feet above the water then, in the face of a barrage of anti-aircraft fire, release their single unique 10,000 lb hydrostatic bomb at exactly the right moment. There was no margin for error, and there was no place for faint hearts. Eight of the crews that left RAF Scampton that night were never to return. Of the fifty-six aircrew on board only two survived. Though nearly half the skilled crews that made up 617 squadron were lost, they recorded one of the most successful and daring air raids of the war- a costly endeavour, but one that has become legend in the annals of aerial warfare. Nicolas Trudgians emotive painting Homeward Bound depicts Dave Shannons Lancaster AJ-L, dodging the searchlights low over the Dutch landscape, as he returns from the Eder Dam following the part he and his crew played in the famous raid on that moonlight night in May, 1943.
Signed by Ray Grayston and G L Johnson