Dambusters - 80th Anniversary
By Clive Rowley
Perhaps the most famous single mission in the RAF's illustrious history, the Dams Raid, took place 80 years ago in May 1943. To commemorate the landmark mission, Squadron Leader Clive Rowley (Retd) a former Officer Commanding the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, revisits the story with the benefit of some modern research to aid the process. This special bookazine, which includes some previously unpublished pictures and some stunning artwork, commemorates the men of No. 617 Squadron plus the engineering brilliance of Barnes Wallis and his colleagues at Vickers and Avro. It's a story which does not need embellishment, but which famously received the Hollywood treatment; a fabulous tale of ingenuity, daring and raw courage. All military actions are made up of mistakes, myths and a few miracles – the Dams Raid contained them all. The publication tells the story of the real people with human traits, complex and contradictory personalities and flaws. This is also a story of inspired leadership under conditions of almost unbelievable strain. For decades the results and effects of the Dams Raid have been 'down-played' or even condemned by a series of commentators, journalists and academics. Here the author sets the record straight, opining that those views denigrate the sacrifice of those involved quite wrongly, especially those 53 who willingly gave their lives in the belief that they were making a difference.
But there's more, as although 617 was originally formed to carry out one specific operation, it subsequently evolved into a specialist, precision bombing squadron. The brilliant post-Dams Raid work done by the squadron is also covered.In 1943 Operation Chastise, as the Dams Raid was officially named, established a legend that still resonates today.