Avro Lancaster B. Mk.III (Special) ED929 / AJ-L, ‘Operation Chastise’, Dams Raid, Flt. Lt. Shannon, RAF No.617 Squadron, Scampton. May 1943Flt. Lt. Shannon, RAF No.617 Squadron, Scampton, May 1943.
As one of the most significant bombing raids in the history of warfare, the audacious ‘Dambusters’ raid was the culmination of months of planning and weeks of intensive flying training. When the nineteen specially modified Avro Lancaster B.III bombers of o.617 Squadron took off from RAF Scampton on the night of 16th May 1943, they were not only carrying specialist equipment designed to help them achieve their objective, but also the ability to score a huge propaganda victory with a high-profile Allied military statement of intent.
Striking at the very heart of the mighty German industrial manufacturing base in the Ruhr valley, their aim was to disrupt war production by breaching three of the huge dams in the area, depriving factories of water and power generation, whilst also wreaking devastation on an unprecedented scale. If they were successful, the torrent of water flooding the entire region would clearly indicate to the German people that the Allies had the ability to strike at the heart of their nation and that they would ultimately prevail in this war. Devastation on this scale would both seriously affect Germany’s ability to keep its armed forces supplied with weapons and ammunition, whilst also making a mockery of Hitler’s propaganda messages.