This year is the 80th anniversary of Operation Chastise.
On the 16th /17th May 1943 19 Lancaster bombers of 617 Squadron RAF took off from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire armed with the now famous Bouncing Bomb invented by Barnes Wallis.
The raid was led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC The aircraft took off in three groups.
Group One, led by Guy Gibson, took off in three waves of three aircraft at ten minute intervals starting at 21.39. Their mission was to attack the Mohne and Elder dams.
Group Two consisted of 5 aircraft, 4 aircraft took off at 21.28, followed 34 minutes later by Joe McCarthy in a reserve aircraft, these took the longer northern route to attack the Sorpe dam.
Group Three also consisting of five aircraft took off later at 00.09 they were a reserve group if the Mohne, Elder and Sorpe were not breached. If the first two waves were successful then they were to attack the Lister, Ennepe and Diemel dams.
The code words sent back in Morse code to the operations room in Grantham were “Goner” meaning bomb dropped. “Nigger” Gibson’s Black Labrador, who was run over by a car the previous night, meaning the Mohne was breached and “Dinghy” meaning the Eder dam was breached.
Five bombs were dropped before the Mohne was breached. The Elder dam took three bombs to breach it and the Sorpe dam, despite being attacked twice, was only slightly damaged. Only eleven aircraft returned to Scampton out of the nineteen aircraft which took off.
Of the survivors, 34 were decorated at Buckingham Palace on 22 June, with Gibson awarded the Victoria Cross. There were five Distinguished Service Orders, 10 Distinguished Flying Crosses and four bars, two Conspicuous Gallantry Medals, and eleven Distinguished Flying Medals and one bar.
In addition to the heroism and suffering in the air the suffering on the ground was huge. With over one thousand six hundred people killed. One thousand and twenty-six of these being prisoners of war and forced labour from occupied countries.
In 1977 the attacking of Dams that release flood waters causing severe losses amongst civilian population was prohibited under the Geneva Convention.
Sadly, last year we lost the last surviving Dambuster, Lincolnshire’s own George “Johnny” Johnson.
The Lincoln Short Wave Club shack is less than 1 mile from RAF Scampton and 80 years ago you could have watched the aircraft take off and count them back in again.
The club will be running a special event station on Tuesday 16th and Wednesday 17th May 2023.
This will be our EQSL design we another design still in the works for our Physical QSL Cards.
If you would like one of our Physical QSL Cards to confirm your contact then please send a Stamped, Self Addressed Envelope to:
Village Hall Lane,
We look forward to speaking to you all on the air!