2018 marks the 75th anniversary of Operation Chastise, the legendary Dambusters Raid, which occurred on the night of 16/17 May, 1943.
Seventy-five years ago, 19 Avro Lancaster bombers, with British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand crews, departed from England on a daring nighttime bombing mission code named “Operation Chastise”. Their goal was to strike river dams, with the result of disrupting water supplies and industrial production and diverting resources from other aspects of the German war effort.
Their actions would test the new parameters for success being demanded of Bomber Command; the invention of one man; and the skills of a squadron of hand-picked veteran crews. Their combined actions resulted in one of the most famous Allied air offenses of the Second World War.
Sir Arthur Harris, commander of Bomber Command, had been given latitude to expand the scope of bomber attacks, but more importantly to ensure the success of bombs reaching the targets – something which had been identified as a problem in the previous years of the war.
His new strategy would involve joint attacks with American bombers against German industrial targets, including oil refineries, shipyards for U-boats, and manufacturing facilities for both aircraft and various forms of transportation. “[T]he Ruhr remained a principle objective because it was the most important industrial area in the whole of Germany, which was why it had been originally chose for morale-breaking…