Day 10 - The Dambusters & the Mohne Valley
May 10th 2015
Ruth Pearson, a traveller who would be continuing on to Berlin very kindly contributed many photos and insights about their experiences day to day, for me to share with you all. A big thank you to you, Ruth!
^^^ Day 10: The rest of the group travels on, with a stop in Rheinberg, then settles in to their stay in Kassel.
The group left our hotel in Arnhem first thing that morning and ventured on. The group stopped in Rheinburg for a visitation at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, to pay their respects to those who did not return from the Dambuster Raid.
<<< Many who were involved in the Dambusters Raid are buried at the Rheinburg Cemetery. Many flight crews are buried together. Glenn pointed out the grave of 1 Canadian flight crew, whose Lancaster was hit by ground fire and crashed. Those who perished here were Ken Earnshaw, GHFG Gregory DFM, JV Hopgood DFC & Bar (the 21 year old pilot), and JW Minchin. Of the 3,326 Commonwealth troops that are buried here, more than 500 are Canadians. - Ruth Pearson
About the Dambusters Raid The RAF raid on the dams of the Möhne & Edersee along the Rhur Valley was apart of a carefully thought out attack called Operation Chastise. The attack was carried out on the 16th & 17th of May 1943, by the Royal Airforce No 617 Squadron, nicknamed the "Dam Busters". The British Air Ministry determined the Ruhr Valley dams as a critically strategic target, as the dams provided not only hydroelectricity for the entire region, but also water supply for the heaviest industrial areas in Germany, including their canal system.
Indeed, the bombing caused flooding that proved catastrophic along the Ruhr and the villages of Eder. Two hydroelectric power stations were completely destroyed, leaving behind a series of others awfully damaged. On top of that, an estimated 1,600 people drowned.
The casualties on both sides of the raid were heavy - many flight crews had been shot down, or lost since the entrance over the Netherlands' airspace, many squadrons would make the brave attempt to the dams to complete the difficult task.
The Bouncing Bomb
The reservoir dams were difficult to reach. Protected by huge, heavy torpedo nets, it was impossible to make a drop or fire a depth charge that would damage the dam wall enough to break through. The heavy charge had to make direct contact with the foundation of the wall. The bouncing bomb was especially created to clear the torpedo nets, and reach the foundation effectively. The bomb spun backwards at 500 rpm, and when dropped at a sufficiently low altitude at the correct speed, it would skip over the water before reaching the dam wall and dropping below.
^^^ This diagram illustrates how the bomb was dropped.
Glenn explained that Dr. Barnes Wallis devised an ingenious barrel-type of bomb that was carried underneath the Lancasters and was to bounce along the water in the reservoir in order to hit the dam. This was carried out by Squadron 617 with flight crews that were made up of the best and most experienced. Despite heavy losses of about 53%, this became one of the most famous raids of the war. A movie, "The Dambusters" was made about this historic raid. - Ruth Pearson
___________________________________________________________________ The group then travel onto the Mohne Dam in the Ruhr Valley, where the group even had the chance to walk on top of the dam and get a look at the area where the breach was made.
<<<Love is alive in Germany! The practice of lovers putting locks on bridges in Paris is being carried on here at the Mohne Dam on a smaller scale. Ruth Pearson
<<<The best day yet for weather! Sunny, bright, blue sky & 18 C! We had a chance to walk across the dam and stand in the area of the mid-section that was breached during the allied bombing.
After touring the dam, which was quickly put back together again by the German community who would have it running fully operational only a year after the raids, the group heads off for their overnight in Kassel.
<<<Here are some of the guys sampling German beer & doing "male bonding" at dinner last night in Kassel. - Ruth Pearson