PR Photography Paul David Drabble

617 Squadron Dam Busters RAF

Operation Chastise took place on the 16th & 17th of May 1943, better known to the wider public as the Dam Busters Raid it was an attack by Dam Busters 617 Squadron on the Dams in the Ruhr valley. It had the objective of disrupting German industry and water supplies. At around 21:30 69 years ago today Avro Lancasters of 617 Squadron took off carrying the now famous bouncing bombs and headed for Germany.

What some of you may not know is that the “The Dam Busters” perfected the new low level bombing technique required to drop Barns Wallis’ invention with training runs over the Derwent Dam. Not only was the Dam used to train for the actual raid but it also appears in the 1954 B&W classic war film which stars Richard Todd as Guy Gibson and Michael Redgrave as Barnes Wallis.

These days the reservoirs and valley that once echoed with the sound of  Lancasters 1,620 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin 224 engines is now peaceful. A magnet for locals and tourists with nothing more dangerous than the local ducks and geese flying low over its waters, but at the entrance to the west tower on the dam wall is a small memorial to the men of 617 Squadron while in the West Tower is small Museum. Known locally as the Dam Busters Museum it opens Sundays and Bank Holiday

Casualties and losses of Operation Chastise

8 aircraft shot down and 53 aircrew killed. 3 aircrew were taken prisoner. Two dams breached and one dam was lightly damaged killing approximately 1,600 people including over 1,000 (mainly soviet) prisoners and forced labourers.