View Full Version : DamBusters Raid

11-18-2005, 06:27 PM
I just watched a History Channel program called Man, Moment, Machine i had recorded a few days ago. It's about the RAF's Dambuster raids of the Lancaster bombers using the bouncing bomb to destroy German dams. The film and recreations of this raid was hair-raising as you can imagine 4-engined heavy bombers flying at 60 feet above water, avoiding flak, and everything having to go the right way, including timing to achieve its objective. Losses were 40% of the aircrews involved but the raid succeeded in its objective to destroy the Mona Dam (which was the largest dam in Europe) and destroying or damaging other dams and factories as a result of the flooded river valleys.
I thought this show was one of the best in terms of information, storyline, re-creation, and drama.

11-18-2005, 07:05 PM
I've watched it a couple of previous times, it is an excellent recreation. Talk about determination, and heavy losses too.

11-18-2005, 07:26 PM

text from enemy coast ahead, picture by seafireIV http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

big shame they didnt have beufighter and mossie escorts to take out the flak...

gibson was very much the press on type. he was mostly fair, he wouldnt expect someone todo something he couldnt or wouldnt. but he expected anyone todo what he did..

much like myself http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-surprised.gif

11-18-2005, 09:25 PM
If you ever get the chance, get the movie as well.

Done in the 50's, black and white with real Mossie footage in it.

Great, great movie.

11-18-2005, 10:26 PM
My French teacher, a refined, elegant and gentle man was a tail end Charlie on those raids. He made it back, minus a significant portion of his skull and its contents.

Unfortunately, his surname rhymed with "metal plate" and to the last day of my life, I will regret not having the courage to tell my school "chums" to just shut the prurient jawing up.

11-19-2005, 12:44 AM
I personally have a problem with the glorification of the operation. It was a hard thing to do and it worked, but the effects on Germany were:

1) hardly any military effect
2) little effect on war indutry
3) lots of civil losses

It's beeing hyped as a great achievment in the UK but not much better than the raid on Dresden.

11-19-2005, 01:33 AM
It was definitely viewed a moral booster... they proved they could accomplish it. That was important. Its much easier to use hindsight years later and judge success or failure from a practical strategic outcome.

It reminds me of Doolittle's raid on Japan. It sent a message we could get them. Damage to military targets was modest and our losses were significant. But it was also a moral booster: a shot in the arm proving to ourselves what we could achieve, and a taste of revenge. Now there were later strategic benefits as a result of the raid but they were completely unforseen, involving Yamamoto's resolve, the Battle of Midway, and the fortunes of fate.

11-19-2005, 04:35 AM
If nothing else, the Dams raid provided a much needed shot in the arm for the British war effort and paved the way for precision night raid which by 1945 were more accurate at night than the 8th Air Force could achieve in daylight!

11-19-2005, 05:03 AM
did hear a rumour of a possible remake of the old black and white film.

And original was made in black and white purely to give atmosphere and not because colour was unavailable however I wonder if that was correct choice http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

11-19-2005, 05:53 AM
If nothing else, the raid showcased the British desire to carry out hair-brained schemes no matter what. "They", of course, had other hair-brained schemes which actually had far more significant effect on the outcome of the war.

Raid effectiveness? Small.
Morale boost? Massive.
Effect on lyrics of 'I am the music man, I come from down your way...what can you play?' - Phenomenal

Overall usefulness: worthwhile.


11-19-2005, 06:00 AM
With hindsight you can say that they raid was militarily worthless, but at the time, had all dams been breached, it was believed that it would do significant damage flooding the industrial heartland of Germany, cutting electricity supplies, as some of them were Hydro-electric dams, as well as wiping out factories.
And to categorise it like Dresden is a bit extreme, it was a purely military target yes lots of people died as a result, but its war, lets not forget that the USAAF 8th Air Force returned to bomb Dresden for the next two days after the RAF raid, if I recall right one of the raid had over 1000 bombers in it. Now if anything was more pointless than that I'd like to hear about it.


11-19-2005, 01:12 PM
the raid left germany short of water. several big raids where much more effective as the germans didnt have the water to put the fires out.

and the germans needed something like 1000tons of water to make 1 ton of steel (ratio maybe wrong)

the cost was high, 8 bombers but then we often lost that number on normal raids.

moral boost was huge, and barnes wallis wouldnt have worked on the weapon if he thought it wouldnt be successful

11-19-2005, 03:39 PM
I agree with Arcadeace http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif. There were great similarities with the earlier Doolittle raid on Tokyo.

It showed as to what the RAF were capable of using inginuity and precision and gave a boost to civilian morale which was low at that time.

Had they been able to breach more dams the effect would have been many times more.

The RAF losses were high in percentage terms but amounted to 8 Lancasters IIRC.

Attacking a target at night on a steady course at 20 metres height whilst displaying lights to estimate height was seen by many as suicidal and was not attempted again.

After the attack,a large number of flak guns and crews were diverted to the dams in case of further attack.

The Lancaster crews displayed amazing courage and this should not be ignored in my opinion.

Best Regards,

11-19-2005, 07:47 PM
To quote Speer:

Those workers had been working on the Atlantic Wall. From there they were transferred to the Ruhr to repair the two dams which had been destroyed by an air attack. I must say that the transfer of these 50000 workers took place without my knowledge, and the consequences of bringing 50000 workers from the West into Germany amounted to a catastrophe for us on the Atlantic Wall. It meant that more than one-third of all the workers engaged on the Atlantic Wall left because they, too, were afraid they might have to go to Germany.

11-20-2005, 05:07 AM
Also made a few people sit up and take note of Barnes Wallace as an engineer. Tallboy or Grand Slam anyone!

11-20-2005, 06:19 AM
Classic line from the film "The Dambusters", where Wallis is trying to persuade a clerk to arrange for him to have a Wellington bomber to work with to develop the bomb.

Clerk: "What possible reason could I put forward to the Air Ministry to get you a Wellington?"

Barnes Wallis: "You could mention that I designed it, would that help?"

11-20-2005, 06:50 AM
for more infos about the raid:


11-25-2005, 05:58 AM
Online exhibition with lots of pics here:

(Public Records Office)

11-25-2005, 06:20 AM
My dad claims to be in the dambusters Film. He was doing his National Service with the Royal Artillery in Lincoln at the time the film was made. He said his unit privided some of the vehicles seen in the scenes at RAF Scampton, and is in the background. I have never been sure if he is winding me, he has told me all sorts of tall tales about his NS http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-indifferent.gif

11-25-2005, 06:47 AM
Originally posted by JtD:
I personally have a problem with the glorification of the operation. It was a hard thing to do and it worked, but the effects on Germany were:

1) hardly any military effect
2) little effect on war indutry
3) lots of civil losses

It's beeing hyped as a great achievment in the UK but not much better than the raid on Dresden.

I don't know what strange ideas you have about WWII, but civilian losses meant losses to the armaments industry and war-making capacity of a nation, so were a completely valid target.

The RAF spent all the war post-BoB to cause civilian losses in German cities. Of cause they had a moral right to do so, after the German night bombings of England, and a duty as well. The faster Nazi-Germany was destroyed the better, for the civilized world. That of course included pounding all aspects of the Nazi state, something quite obvious to everybody at the time. I think you are confusing that period with present-day standards.

11-25-2005, 07:33 AM
Killing civilians was a war crime in 1940 just like it is today. They are no valid target. People with the sick thinking you advertise here are the ones to blame for much of the horrors of the 2nd world war.

And the idea that the Allies had any moral right or even duty to kill civilian is even sicker than the other parts of your posting. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/51.gif

And I really don't know what strange ideas you have about todays wars, civilians are still killed en masse in almost any conflict.

To cut it short, you make me want to throw up.

11-25-2005, 08:25 AM
So what operations do you 'glorify' then, chum?

11-25-2005, 08:50 AM
" I think you are confusing that period with present-day standards."

Dont talk about standards.. look what even so called civilizied states (or a state ;-) ) are/is doing today... if you want, the modern standards are not better than the old ones... they just have changed...

11-25-2005, 09:17 AM
Originally posted by Low_Flyer_MkII:
So what operations do you 'glorify' then, chum?

None in which killing is involved. Some were well done military operations (like the infiltration of Scapa Flow, the attack on Taranto, the defense of Wake atoll), but most weren't. I can respect those deeds and possibly the skills displayed, but I will never hail or glorify them.

There were, however, a lot of instances where humanitary reasons were victorious over military necesseties. That is something to glorify. But it hardly ever is done.

In my hometown there is a memorial for "the anonymous deserter" - the more I think of it the more I like it.

11-25-2005, 09:30 AM
So what missions do you enjoy playing in FB/PF?

11-25-2005, 09:52 AM
Just to say I'm a big big fan of the Dam Busters.I've seen the film many times and read Wing Commander Gibson's own account in "Enemy Coast Ahead"-a good book should any of you get the chance to read it.

In respose to how successful/worthwhile was it it really depends on your pointt of view and whether you are using the benefit of hindsight.In my view it was a very worthwhile operation which demonstrated skill , courage and determination.The dams were a good morale boosting factor for the civillian public at home and Gibson emerged as a national hero and even went on a tour of the USA.

I think to compare it to Dresden is absoulte nonsense.The crews were not aiming to bomb any cities during the raid and any lss of civillian life was merely a side effect.Unfortunately civillian deaths happen in war and some of you need to get eral and realise this rather than criticising the heroes who went on these raids.

JtD surely you are playing the wrong game if you dont agree with killing seen as the object of war put simply is to kill as many of theenemy as possible before he kills you.Perhaps you'd care to clarify what you define war as...


11-25-2005, 10:07 AM
alot of bomber crews merly wanted to destroy the target, and they did point out that nearly everyone was in airraid shelters.

incidently the germans killed 10,000 or more every day.

19,000 russians died PER DAY on the eastern front, and vast amounts of destruction.

reaping the whirlwind as harris said...

11-25-2005, 10:18 AM
~S!~ Skipper, Don't know about Irish, but there were a lot of good Aussies in 617 Squadron. Good post.


~s!~ Pingu, Whirlwinds are cool. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

11-25-2005, 10:22 AM
oh, and barnes calculated the speed, range, height, amount of backspin etc aswell...
mind boggleing http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-surprised.gif

11-25-2005, 10:49 AM
If you guys can convince me that I have killed people by playing this game, I'll surely give it a rest. If not, I'll continue to have fun in all kinds of missions.

If civilains are "the enemy" that need to be killed in a war, I suspect commiting genocides is ok as well. After all, some of them were certainly guilty.

Sorry for not having low enough moral standards.

11-25-2005, 11:10 AM
I don't really think for one moment that the deaths of any single person in that raid have been the cause for celebration. Barnes Wallis lamented the losses dreadfully. The operation will be best remembered for it's precision, daring, genius and bravery. What 617 Squadron leared about precision bombing and the effects of the shockwaves went a good way to shortening the war in subsequent raids, that required pin point accurate targeting.
Best wishes.
John Pimlott.

11-25-2005, 11:44 AM
S! Low Flyer.Nice pic of Gibson's lanc and thanks.I'm really glad to have found other as interested in the raid as I am.I am fascinated how Wallis was able to work out what he did and Gibson and his squad were able to deliver the blow with pin point accuracy.It is really a remarkable tale that should never be forgotten and is surely one of the better sides to WW2(if that is possible) as it shows the genius , skill and courage of many but of mainly two main men , Gibson and Wallis.

JtD , I never said that civillians were the enemy as such just that when one country declares war on one another deaths of innocents is inevitable.It's a sad fact of life but people have to accept it.
Whats this bit about genocide?Surely you are not suggesting that by the unfortunate deaths of some civillians that 617 squadron committed genocide!?I think you need to present facts for your argument as currently it makes little sense to me or many others by the looks of it.I totally agree with John and would like to reinforce his point....at no point did Wallis ever glorify the losses experienced on that raid.Quite the opposite , he was devastated to hear of the losses and if you watch the film at the end , he leaves by going to the doctor to get a sleeping pill.Not really the action of a man who was heartless and enjoyed the suffering of German civillians.


11-25-2005, 12:05 PM
Hi Skipper,
I read the Dambusters again and again when I was younger. The bouncing bomb was tested within sight of my house {not that it was there at the time} What's left of a prototype is now in a local museum. I've read lots of stuff on Bomber Command; Cheshire, Gibson's successor is a fascinating character, a true leader of men.
I've also read a few books by a chap named John Pimlott - honoured to have you aboard, sir.

JtD, as you've noted, it's a game. Lighten up. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

11-25-2005, 12:30 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by JtD:
Killing civilians was a war crime in 1940 just like it is today.[QUOTE]

Standards ARE different, though. The firebombing of Tokyo didn't exactly carry with it an outcry from the allies as to the crime of it all. Imprisonment of Japanese citizens seemed only prudent at the time. Daylight or Nighttime bombing both carried with them huge civilian losses, and again, no one much looked to that and said "We shouldn't be doing this because of the civilian toll". It was the way war was waged at that time.

Today's world IS different. To imprison unjustly a specific group of the population because you are at war with their people is considered very wrong. To carpet bomb a city is considered wrong (especially in leiu of smart bomb technology). The use of nuclear weapons is a MAJOR no no. These things were not considered or weighed nearly as heavily in WWII.

Regardless, all wars are crimes.

11-25-2005, 12:32 PM
Well i'm still 16 so still at Sixth Form but I'm hoping to perhaps do "The Dam Buster Raid" as my special individual A-level assignment next year in history if I'm allowed and carry on with history next year.
I did a bit of checking and it turns out there were some Irish in 617 squadron and further details of crew can be found on this website:


I also like this site which is full of trivia about the film (The ghost of Gibson's dog which I cant name here for obvious reasons)and other possible inaccuracies.


This is also an interesting site that tries to explain why certain things wre done in the movie. Some I dont agree with....some I do...




11-25-2005, 12:34 PM
If you can, get the book by Paul Brickhill (is that the one you've read LFII?). It's an excellent account of all 617's activities.

11-25-2005, 12:39 PM
Neat, Skipper - thanks.

Ploughman linked to this in another thread:

Yep. That's the book, stathem. Beg, steal or borrow 'Bomber Command' by Max Hastings if you can. 'Wings of War' by Laddie Lucas is a great anthology of WWII air war stories (from all sides) with some well-written passages by and about Cheshire.

11-25-2005, 12:48 PM
Bomber Command's on the list...just reading 'Das Reich' at the mo.. Laddie Lucas, I only have "Voices int' Air" which is similarly, excellent.

Need to complete my saving for Rudder pedals so I can get back to stocking up on the books.

11-25-2005, 02:06 PM
Interestingly enough, the Germans recovered one of the "Upkeep" bombs from a crashed Lanc and began development on their own bouncing bomb. The results were interesting. I have footage somewhere at home here, of a Fw190 dropping a rocket-powered bouncing bomb. Apparently they had problems with the skipping bomb pacing the aircraft to the target and blowing up underneath it so they added a rocket booster. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-surprised.gif It gave the bomb a range of 4 km, but it was difficult to hit the target. I think the project was codenamed "Kurt".

The Mosquitoes of 618 squadron ended up in Australia working a use for this technology in the Pacific. I have footage also of an A-20 dropping a "Highball". The Americans liked to drop them low. In one clip the A-20 can't be more than 30 ft off the water and the bomb bounces straight up into the rear fuselage, severing it. The resulting crash is hard to watch.

11-25-2005, 02:55 PM
I don't know what strange ideas you have about WWII, but civilian losses meant losses to the armaments industry and war-making capacity of a nation, so were a completely valid target.

Technically, under the Hague treaty, civilian workers were not a valid target, although the factories were. Up until the Blitz and beyond the RAF was quite careful to attempt to attack only military or industrial targets directly until it became apparent that night bombing was too inaccurate to do them much damage. I am not sure if the Hague treaty indicated that if another party broke the terms then the first party was also not bound by them.

Given the nature of total war in the 1940s I think that the level of civilian death in the Dambuster raids might be justifiable when offset by the military effects. Area bombing is less justifiable, especially Dresden.

11-25-2005, 02:57 PM
It's not an A-20, it's a B-24. You're right though, I can't watch it after the bomb knocks the tail off. There are people in there.

11-25-2005, 04:17 PM
You must have seen a different one. I grabbed these off my telly so forgive the quality. I noticed the A-20 is even lower than I thought it was. And the first 2 shots are out of sequence.

11-27-2005, 05:00 AM
Scary and sad stuff...