Sunday 14 April 2019

Sunday Snap – 617 Squadron

We were remembering a favourite sitcom and thinking this time next year... for last week's Sunday Snap. I asked which television programme it was and the answer is

Only Fools and Horses

Selling hooky goods with the right answer were Sarah, Susan, Sarah, Kara and Anne.

We were off to Derbyshire and Derwent Reservoir this week. During the Second World War a number of strategic targets were identified. One of these was the Ruhr and Eder valleys in Germany. By flooding these valleys it would destroy hydroelectric power stations, factories and mines. In addition to this it provided pure water for steel making and drinking water for thousands of people. The way to flood these valleys would be to breach the dams by bombing them. To do so by simply dropping bombs on them would be too difficult and so a special type of bomb was developed.

The assistant chief designer at Vickers, Barnes Wallis, had been working on a new type of bomb. In order to destroy the dams the bomb once dropped would skim across the top of the water before hitting the dam. It would then roll down to the base of the dam before exploding. The result of it would mean the dam would break open and flood the surrounding land. This new bomb became known as the 'Bouncing Bomb'. A date of May 1943 was decided upon as this would be when the water would be at its highest and thus cause the maximum amount of damage to the surrounding land.

This new bombing technique needed testing and practice locations were sought. One of these was the Derwent Reservoir as the towers on the dam walls looked like the ones on the target dams. In order to deliver the bomb the Lancaster aircraft had to fly at a very low altitude of just 18m above the water. This had to be combined with a speed of 240mph and all done at night. The RAF team charged with completing this mission, known as Operation Chartise, was 617 Squadron led by 24 year-old Wing Commander Guy Gibson.

On the night of 16th and 17th May 1943 the aircraft took off. Some of the them were shot down or crashed before they even reached Germany. However, a number were successful and the bombs started to drop on their intended targets. In all the Möhne and Eder Dams were breached with further attacks on the Sorpe and Ennepe Dams. Of the 133 aircrew that participated in the mission 53 were killed. Although Guy Gibson returned safely and awarded the Victoria Cross he was killed the next year in another flying mission.

In 1955 a film was released telling the story of the preparations and the mission itself. It remains to this day a classic in cinematic history. It starred Richard Todd as Guy Gibson and Michael Redgrave as Barnes Wallis. The title of the film and its theme tune is still instantly recognisable ( I have been to many a football match where the teams have walked out onto the pitch to this). This week's question is

What is the name of the film based on Operation Chartise?

We were joined last week by Sarah and a furry friend. Susan celebrated Mother's Day. There were some ruffled feathers for Mary. End of term artwork for Sarah gave freedom and rights. Kara found a Lego dinosaur and looked smart for an occasion. A family birthday for Anne meant a meal out. Minoru found the cherry blossom out in Tokyo. Finally, Jesh remembers that time...

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Sunday Snap

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  1. I’m not sure, but going to guess the Dam Busters xx

  2. I've never seen it myself, but it has to be Dambusters. What a horrible thing to do though?! All of those innocent people on both sides affected by it.

  3. Dambusters - can hear the music now, brother-in-law's favourite! Beautiful reservoir picture.

  4. I found the anser, The Dam Busters? Thanks for sharing.

  5. That blue color of the water is just incredible! Thanks for hosting.

  6. Wow that would be an interesting movie to see!

  7. Hope this is correct - Dam Busters. Great photos.



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