At 9:30 pm on 16th May, 1943, only eight weeks after No. 617 Squadron had been formed, the first wave took off from RAF Scampton. The second and third waves soon followed.




At midnight eight of the nine Lancaster's in the first wave arrived over the Moehne Dam. The ninth, AJ-B, flown by Flight Lieutenant Astell, had crashed near Dorsten after being hit by flak.


Gibson, in AJ-G, opened that attack by accurately placing his weapon; but failed to breached the wall.

After waiting for the water to settle. Flight Lieutenant Hopgood in AJ-M, began his run in, but was hit by flak and released his weapon late, causing it to bounced over the dam wall and explode harmlessly. His aircraft crashed soon after; only two crew members survived.


Having seen that the the German gunners had now identified the target and means of attack. Gibson in an attempt to confuse the gunners, escorted Flight Lieutenant Martin, in AJ-P, into the target. Martins' run however, was not accurate and his weapon exploded short of the wall.


Squadron Leader Young, in AJ-A, was next to make his run. Escorted by both Gibson and Martin, he managed to accurately place his weapon; but again the explosion failed to generate a breach.


Flight Lieutenant Maltby, in AJ-J, who like the remaining members of the first wave, had been circling the area waiting for his turn. He accurately placed his weapon with the aid of an escorted run. The explosion, proved too much for the Moehnes' wall, which was finally breached.


With only three "Upkeep's" remaining, Gibson ordered these aircraft to follow him to attack the Eder Dam. While the others began their return to base. With the exception of Squadron Leader Young, who was shot down by the coastal defences over Holland with all crew members killed. All returned safely to Scampton.


Arriving over the Eder. The target was found to be undefended and so the attack runs were made unescorted and without interference from flak.


Flight Lieutenant Shannon, in AJ-L, opened the attack and after several dummy runs, successfully placed his weapon. As the water settled a slight breach was noticeable, but was not sufficient to cause the dam to fail.


As was the case with Shannon's attack; Squadron Leader Maudsley, in AJ-Z, made several dummy attacks before releasing his weapon. His timing however was off and the late release of the weapon caused it to strike the parapet and explode on impact at almost the same time as his aircraft passed over head. Maudsley's aircraft was seriously damaged by the blast and it is reported that he may have actually received earlier damage to his aircraft by flak during the flight to the target. Once he had regained control, he immediately set course for Scampton. He would be shot down by light flak east of Emmerich, there were no survivors.


Pilot Officer Knight, in AJ-N, who carried the last of the first waves "Upkeep's". Accurately placed his weapon and the already weakened wall was breached.

Moehne Dam Breeched

Eder Dam Prior To The Attack

Eder Dam After



Even before launching any attacks, the second wave of five aircraft had been seriously depleted.

Two aircraft had aborted and returned to base during the outward bound flight. Pilot Officer Rice, in AJ-H, being forced to do so; after flying so low that his aircraft actually struck the sea which in turn resulted in his weapon being torn off. While Flight Lieutenant Munro, in AJ-W, returned early after his crew intercom system was damaged by flak.


A further two aircraft, AJ-E and AJ-K, flown by Flight Lieutenant Barlow and Sergeant Byers respectively; crashed after being hit by flak. There were no survivors from either aircraft.


The sole remaining aircraft, AJ-T, flown by Flight Lieutenant McCarthy, continued on and successfully attacked, but failed to breach, the Sorpe Dam.



The third wave, also consisted of five aircraft, suffered the loss of three aircraft before reaching their respective targets.


Pilot Officer Ottley, in AJ-C, while enrolee to attack the Lister Dam. Crashed, four kilometres north of Hamm after being hit by flak. All but one of the crew were killed.


Pilot Officer Burpee, in AJ-S, after straying slightly off track, quickly fell victim to the flak defences over the Gilze Rijen night fighter airfield. Once again all of the crew were killed.

While Flight Sergeant Anderson, in AJ-Y, was forced to abort the operation after the rear gun turret proved unserviceable.


The remaining two aircraft, AJ-O and AJ-F, flown by Flight Sergeants Townsend and Brown respectively; continued.


Flight Sergeant Townsend was ordered to attack the Ennepe Dam. Which he successfully located and attacked. He failed to generate a breech however, after his weapon exploded short of the dam.


Flight Sergeant Brown, after attacking a train enroute and flying through heavy flak. Finally, arrived at the Sorpe Dam only to find it almost completely hidden by mist. Numerous attack runs were made, only to be called off at the last possible moment for one reason or another. Finally, through the skill of the pilot and the crew, the bomb aimer successfully dropped his weapon and achieved a direct hit. The dam wall held however, and all that the crew of AJ-F could do was head for home.

Sopre Dam After

Moehne Dam Prior To The Attack

Dam's Raid

16/17 May 1943


"Operation Chastise Is Launched"