'Secret' Dambusters photos go under hammer

  • Published
Mohne dam before attack breachImage source, IAA
Image caption,
The Mohne dam in north-west Germany, pictured before the attacks, was broken after five planes dropped "bouncing bombs"

A set of rare photographs showing the impact of the Dambusters' "bouncing bomb" raids have been sold at auction.

The raids by 19 RAF Lancaster bombers destroyed two strategically significant German dams and damaged a third.

Taken by the Nazi authorities before and after the raids - on 16 and 17 May 1943 - the aerial images are stamped "Secret Command Document".

The photographs were sold in Nottingham for £2,100 - considerably more than the list price of £1,200.

As well as the time and date of the images, they also carry a warning forbidding them to be copied.

Image source, IAA
Image caption,
Floodwaters caused damage and casualties following the Mohne attack, but the military impact is much debated

The revolutionary bombs skipped across the lakes behind the dams and showed how precision attacks were possible in an age when most missions were lucky to get within miles of their target.

Eight aircraft were lost and 56 of 133 aircrew were killed or captured. An estimated 1,600 people died on the ground.

International Autograph Auctions, of Nottingham, offered a set of reconnaissance images showing the Mohne and Edersee dams.

Image source, IAA
Image caption,
The Edersee dam was the second to be breached during the attacks

Two pairs show the Mohne and Edersee dams before and after the attacks and a fifth image of a reserve dam on the Mohne reservoir shows how part of it had emptied out.

Carl Buck, senior researcher at International Autograph Auctions, said: "The usual pictures we see of the dam raids are from photo-reconnaissance Spitfires despatched after the mission or close ups from Germany."

Image source, IAA
Image caption,
Photographs taken before the attacks show the dams were being monitored by the Germans

Dambusters expert Charles Foster said: "The fascination with the Dambusters themselves is because it combined so many different things which contributed to the war effort - a revolutionary new weapon, supreme airmanship skills and raw courage in pressing home an attack under fire.

"The fact that it was then immortalised in what is now regarded as one of the best ever British war films just adds to its mystique."

Image source, IAA
Image caption,
The photographs feature official stamps which record when and where they were taken

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