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Myths and Legends
Guy Gibson's plane
Guy Gibson boards his aircraft

© Crown Copyright
Home of the Dambusters

Planning ahead

Operation Chastise became one of the most famous bombing campaigns of World War II. The intelligence behind the operation was simple: the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams were vital to Germany’s war effort, their destruction would disrupt the water and electricity supplies to the Ruhr, Germany’s industrial heartland.

Hole in the Mohne Dam
The Mohne Dam damage
© Crown Copyright
Dr Barnes Wallis of engineering company Vickers-Armstrongs, was approached and asked to devise a bomb that could penetrate the walls of the dams and cause maximum disruption. The next step was to form a squadron to attack and destroy the dams. 617 Squadron was formed on 17 March 1943 and four days later they gathered at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire to prepare for the intense training that was to come. Just two months later, on 16 May 1943, Operation Chastise took place; 147 men in total flew 19 aircrafts carrying ‘bouncing bombs’. The Mohne and Eder dams were breached and the Sorpe dam was damaged by the successful operation.

Home sweet (temporary) home

What is the link between Lincolnshire, an English county devoid of any dams or reservoirs and the Ruhr valley in Germany, an area noted for such structures? In 1943, Lincolnshire provided a temporary home for 617 Squadron, or the Dambusters, as they would eventually became known.

Guy Gibson
Wing Commander Guy Gibson
© Crown Copyright
As well as providing a temporary home, in the form of RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire was also home to a member of the squadron, Sergeant George Leonard Johnson. A bomb-aimer on the Lancaster under the command of Flt Lt. J. C. McCarthy, Johnson was awarded a DFM (Distinguished Flying Medal) after Operation Chastise. Usually accustomed to flying at 20,000ft Johnson recalled the ‘exhilarating’ feeling of flying so low, as “We’d been used to the high-level stuff and it was simply great” (Express, April 2003).


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1 frankqian from P.R.C.C - 5 January 2004
"it's a legend we should remember"




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