2. Operation Chastise
On the night of 16-17 May 1943, an RAF bombing raid destroyed three dams in the Ruhr Valley. The mission codenamed Operation ‘Chastise’ was aimed at destroying the Möhne, Edersee and Sorpe Dams, which were fiercely protected with torpedos in the waters to stop underwater attacks and anti-aircraft guns to defend against enemy bombers.
Between 1938 and 1941, a number of proposals and studies were undertaken by the British. It was found that multiple strikes with a high degree of accuracy would be necessary. Considering the feasibility of the mission, the British specially developed a “bouncing bomb” invented and developed by Sir Barnes Wallis. Also, with a new squadron, which had been formed at Scampton on 21st March 1943, and led by the 24-year-old Wing Commander Guy Gibson, the British were ready for the mission.
At 9.28 pm on 16 May 1943, the first of 19 Lancaster heavy bombers lifted off the runway into a clear, still early summer night. The mission went as planned resulting in the destruction of two hydroelectric power stations. Several others were damaged, and the floods drowned and killed approximately 1,300 people.