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Contains fascinating detail.
on 17 December 2010
In what often feels `now' like another lifetime, in a previous career in the British Army, I once occupied a splendid married quarter overlooking the Möhnesee and from where (in the winter months when the leaves had fallen) we could see the very structure made famous by the exploits of the Dambusters which is the subject of this book. I often took my family for a walk along the road which runs along the top of the dam and have two abiding memories from that time. Firstly, the original and very distinctive twin towers were still intact and secondly, the repaired dam wall was easily discernible against the original material.
As a scuba diving instructor based well inland in what was then Western Germany, we visited many of region's reservoirs - often in search of a mythical Lancaster bomber which we believed had crashed into the water. After many a fruitless search, 1977 was a year of such drought that all the reservoirs were reduced to a trickle of water which was not deep enough for any water sports. That dry summer, however, did allow us to survey each of those reservoirs and finally answer the question of whether or not a Lancaster aircraft existed. There were none. But I digress!
Another in a series of what might be described almost as "booklets" by Osprey Publishing, this one covers the subject of the Dambusters in fascinating detail and includes much that I did not know already. With refreshing insights into such pivotal personalities as Barnes Wallis and Guy Gibson plus additional details of each dam and the three-dimensional ground plan models with which the aircrews had to work and plan, this work answers a good many questions about one of the most successful air raids of all time.
I found the explanation of the Dann Bombsight to be particularly revealing. Each `bouncing' bomb had to be released at exactly the correct height and exactly the right distance from each target in order to be effective and the device produced by Wing Commander Dann was simplicity itself.
Nineteen aircraft took part in the raid, each manned by a seven-man crew. Of the 133 men, therefore, who took part in the operation, no fewer than 37 were later decorated for their role. The decorations awarded included; One VC (Victoria Cross), six DSOs (Distinguished Service Order), fourteen DFCs (Distinguished Flying Cross), another fourteen DFMs (Distinguished Flying Medal) and two CGMs (Conspicuous Gallantry Medal). Guy Gibson's and all his crew were decorated with Gibson receiving the VC, his five officers each receiving the DFC and the lone sergeant the DFM.
Altogether, of considerable interest to those who want to know more about this extraordinary exploit from WW2.