617 Squadron of 5 Group RAF Bomber Command was without doubt the most famous RAF Squadron in World War II. It was formed to carry out the precision low-level attack on the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe Dams, using Barnes Wallace s newly developed rotating mine, now commonly referred to as The Bouncing Bomb . The raid was a tremendous success, although at great cost to the squadron, and proved to be a great moral booster for the war-weary British public. Guy Gibson VC was tasked with organising the formation and training of the new squadron and the Dambusters have been national heroes ever since. Although several books have previously been written on this epic adventure, this is a new look at their first raid and then the long and envious history of 617 until the end of the war. This new version of the Dams raid within the book, pays particular attention to timings, as it is easy to overlook the fact, that this was a complex three-phase operation, spanning 8 hours and 47 minutes, with action occurring simultaneously at widely dispersed locations. It also attempts to settle finally the circumstances of the losses, by examining the testimony of eyewitnesses on both sides, and presenting arguments to help readers decide for themselves what actually happened where previous accounts are contradictory or at variance. In the later war years 617 suffered greatly during an attack on the Dortmund-Ems Canal but recovered and their list of priority special targets then included the German missile research plant at Peenemunde, Hamburg, the U boat pens at La Pallice and the sinking of the battleship Tirpitz. The legendary Leonard Cheshire VC led the Squadron for much of that period. This newly researched account of 617 s wartime record contains many first-hand accounts from squadron members and also German and Dutch witnesses who were present at some of the most spectacular raids and have explained many of the mysterious losses of the Squadron s aircraft. Lengthy appendices contain a Roll of Honour, Commanders, Airfields and aircraft, Operational statistics and Aircraft Histories.
I am Chris Ward, one of two authors featured on Amazon to share that regal name. I am 65, (with the body of a 30 year old which I steadfastly refuse to give back),and I am not to be confused with the more youthful and handsome sharer of my name, who, I understand lives in Cornwall and is a short story writer. I work for Penguin Books, which has now joined forces with Random House as part of the Bertelmanns Group, and I'm based at its UK distribution centre near Rugby, where I spend my time manhandling cases of books and processing them. When not sweating for my salary I instruct my colleagues on the operation of all of the powered manual handling equipment essential to the processes of storage and distribution, fork lift trucks, cranes etc. At home I play and teach guitar, write books, suffer as a lifelong Aston Villa fan (57 years so far)and generally chill out.
Those of you who know my work will be enthusiasts of RAF Bomber Command in WWII, particularly the Dambusters. However, I have just published my first novel, entitled Time Link, which is available via Amazon Kindle, and also touches in part upon Bomber Command and 617 Squadron. My book on 1 Group is due for publication by Pen & Sword in 2014. Also due for a relaunch through Pen & Sword is my RAF Bomber Command Squadron Profile series, which will be published in hard back in updated form. I will also be making a DVD on the Dortmund-Ems Canal operation by 617 Squadron in September 1943. (For those who have seen the Dambusters DVD bearing my name put out by Pen & Sword in 2013, I assure you I had nothing to do with its production, and apologise for the appalling narration which mispronounced every German word.)
Thanks for taking the trouble to read this, and, more importantly, for buying my books.
Bye for now,
Chris Ward. (The older and less handsome one).