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Thursday, 7 February 2019

Bouncing Bombs and Chilling Words

A prototype bouncing bomb

I hadn't meant my last post to be a teaser - honest Marcia!  Bouncing bombs are part of British history and as a Lincolnshire lass, they are especially part of my history as the Dambuster Raid was launched from my county.

Even before the Second World War started the Ruhr Valley in Germany had been identified as a "desirable" target for attacks.  It was at the heart of German industry and its dams were especially important in the supply of hydro-electric power and water for the canal transport system and steel making as well as for drinking water.  The dams would be a difficult target as they were very well defended so a specialist weapon was needed and Operation Chastise was conceived. 

Barnes Wallis was an eminent engineer and he started work to design a bomb which would avoid the underwater anti-torpedo defences and explode against the wall of the dam - a difficult problem as suitable bombs would be too heavy for any aircraft at the time.  He worked at the problem and came up with a bomb which would "bounce" along the water and eventually hit the dams.  A special group of pilots and other servicemen was formed with personnel from Canada, Australia and New Zealand as well as the UK.   The "Dam Buster" raid was on the night of 16th - 17th May 1943 and resulted in the deaths of about 1600 people, the destruction of two hydroelectric power stations and considerable damage to the German war effort.

And the chilling words?  This is part of a speech made by Field Marshall Montgomery at Woodhall Spa.  "We are doing to the Germans in Europe the same as we have done to the Italians in Sicily and Italy.  We are softening them up by bombing: after that we will go in and kill them.  It will be quite simple."  They may have been appropriate in 1944 but they chill my heart today.


  1. Thank you. I had no idea of the importance of these bombs.

  2. We actually lived near the Mohne see near Soest where the bomb was successful, the dam was broken in the war. It is a beautiful place for a walk.