The Dams Raid: a historical perspective

Digging about on the RAF Museum website, as one does, I came across what seems like a very interesting resource, the online version of the Journal of the RAF Historical Society. The society was established in 1986 and runs two or three seminars every year devoted to the whole range of RAF history. It also publishes a journal, and the first 36 numbers of these are all available online. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be either an index or a full list of contents, so I haven’t yet explored every single issue. However, I can say that issue no. 34 could be useful to anyone with an interest in the Dams Raid, as it contains a 26 page article by Wg Cdr T M Webster entitled ‘The Dam Busters Raid – Success or Sideshow?’
This is an interesting, factual account which starts well before the war, and the involvement of Barnes Wallis. Based largely on the book by John Sweetman, it deals with the identification of the Ruhr dams as important industrial targets and the various ideas which were developed for attacking them. Then it follows through the chronology of the planning, the raid itself and its aftermath.
The conclusion? Perhaps not surprisingly, it is that:

allying this precision [the accuracy of the bombing] to the dramatic post-raid reconnaissance photographs, the undoubted bravery of the crews involved and a pre-determination to use the raid for propaganda purposes it is hardly surprising that the Dams Raid remains the RAF’s most famous single operation and No 617 its most famous squadron.
All in all, the Dams Raid was an all-round success and not a slideshow.

You can download the whole (8MB) PDF here.


Barnes Wallis in Hendon

Photo by mickb6265

It’s a long time since I’ve had a proper look around the RAF Museum in Hendon, North London. On my last visit I was in a rush to get to the research library upstairs. So I’ve missed the fact that there is a re-creation of Barnes Wallis’s office in the exhibition hall, complete with his real drawing board and other paraphernalia. From this picture it looks as though the famous photograph of the Möhne lake after the dam was broken is hanging in the corner. Wallis brought this to the party in the Hungaria restaurant after the Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony, where it was signed by most of the surviving aircrew who took part in the raid.

Full set of mickb’s pictures are here on Flickr.