75th Anniversary of the Dambusters Raid and a very Special Visit

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by The Cooler King, May 16, 2018.

  1. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Last month I spent some time in Germany visiting the great Dams and many of the graves of the aircrew killed during Operation Chastise.

    Of the 19 Lancasters that left for the mission, there was 8 aircraft shot down, 53 aircrew killed and 3 aircrew taken prisoner.

    I thought that I would share some images of how the Dams look today and of course the Graves of the Aircrew.

    Firstly the Möhne Dam:-

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  2. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Some 45km East of Dortmund, the dam is a mighty structure. It is 777m in length and over 36m in Height. To see it up close and walk across it made me see just how a formidable obstacle it was.

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  3. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    This is the view down stream which is now very peaceful. Of course following the breach and the tsunami which resulted, many bridges, power stations and homes were washed away or damaged. Over 1600 people died including many slave workers from the east who were being held in a camp down steam.

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  4. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    The Mohne dam was protected by 2 anti-torpedo nets in the water in front of the dam and anti aircraft guns. This is one of the towers that was used as an anti-aircraft implacement.

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  5. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Here are some of the information boards around the site

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  6. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    The Dam is not only functional for its intended purpose but it is also a tourist attraction. On the day of my visit is was busy and there are shops, places to eat and facilities nearby. You can even take pleasure cruises across the reservoir.

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  7. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Now on to the Eder Dam....................Like the Mohne, the Eder dam was a Gravity dam made from granite masonry blocks built between 1908 and 1914. It is located 60 miles south east of the Mohne. At 145 feet (44 meters) high it was 25 feet higher than the Mohne but at 430 yards (393 meters) in length it was not as long. The base was 119 feet (36.2 meters) thick and 20 feet (6 meters) thick at the top. The Eder dam held back 200 million tons of water - the largest reservoir in Germany.

    In the image below you can clearly see where the breach occurred and the dam was repaired which is discoloured white.

    The Eder Dam Germany 1.jpg
     
  8. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Due to its location surrounded by large hills, the Germans believed the Eder dam would be almost impossible to attack and therefore it had little defence unlike the Mohne. There were no anti-torpedo nets or anti aircraft guns. There were only two guards on patrol on the dam with rifles!!!.

    In this image you can clearly see the rebuilt power station and some of the surrounding hills that made the approaches considerably more difficult.

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  9. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    These Images show the view down stream which is considerably more narrow and again the proximity and height of the hills.

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  10. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Here are the views of the reservoir and the walkway across the dam which you can again cross on foot.

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  11. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Here are the towers and the dam detail as well as the sluice channels.

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  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  13. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    What also impressed me about the Eder was just how close the lovely little town was and all of its attractions including places to eat and drink close by - and how pretty the area is in general, - well worth a visit in its own right. (And remember the German Beer!)

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  14. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Must agree that the is a beautiful area to visit.We first visited the area in August 1992 and in one day fitted in the Eder,then the Mohne and the Sorpe, the latter two being located in Natural Parks.There were few visitors at the Eder Dam I noted and the only refreshment was from a small caravan run by a lady....she had a constant companion...a bird which was so tame that it would come to her to be fed.

    Interestingly shown above the Edersee is Schloss Waldeck which has been an upcrust hotel for many years.Looking at the Edelsee it must have been a difficult task for the Lancasters to drop down from the higher ground for the short bombing run to the dam face.

    The Sorpe Dam is interesting from it's construction.It is an earthwork dam with a concrete core at the centre.The intention was to crack the core by dropping the bomb parallel to the dam.Apparently the dam was a little difficult to locate as the area was subject to a mist.Ken Brown and Joe McCarthy (the then Sgt G L Johnson bomb aimer) had to make 10 runs before they were happy for the bomb to be released but the dam damage was limited to having to be half drained to effect repairs.
     
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  15. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    On to the Fallen and their War graves mainly in Germany. Firstly REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY in Nordrhein-Westfalen.

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  16. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Reichswald Forest War Cemetery was created after the Second World War when burials were brought in from all over western Germany and is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the country. Some of those members of the land forces buried there died in the advance through Reichswald Forest in February 1945. Others died crossing the Rhine, among them members of the airborne forces whose bodies were brought from Hamminkeln, where landings were made by the 6th Airborne Division from bases in England. Some of the airmen buried in the cemetery lost their lives in supporting the advance into Germany, but most died earlier in the war in the intensive air attacks over Germany. Their graves were brought in from cemeteries and isolated sites in the surrounding area. There are now 7,594 Commonwealth servicemen of the Second World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery. 176 of the burials are unidentified. There are also 78 war graves of other nationalities, most of them Polish. Special Memorials to 9 airmen are located at the East boundary wall, near Plot 10. Further Special Memorials to 7 airmen are located within Plot 31, near the Cross of Sacrifice. The cemetery was designed by Philip Hepworth.

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  17. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Flying Officer WILLIAMS, CHARLES ROWLAND
    Service Number 405224
    Died 16/05/1943
    Aged 34
    617 (R.A.F.) Sqdn.
    Royal Australian Air Force
    D F C
    Son of Horace Edward and Hedwig Helena Williams, of Torrens Creek, Queensland, Australia.

    Williams few in the second wave in Lancaster AJ-E ED927/G as the wireless operator. His aircraft crashed on the outward flight.

    Like several other Dams Raid participants Williams had been recommended for a decoration, in his case the DFC, but it was not awarded until after his death.

    Williams Dambuster.jpg
     
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  18. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Sergeant (Air Gunner) LIDDELL, JACK ROBERT GEORGE
    Service Number 1338282
    Died 16/05/1943
    Aged 18
    617 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    Son of Robert Hardinge Liddell, and of Winnifred Lillian Liddell, of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

    Sgt J R G Liddell Rear gunner, Lancaster serial number: ED927/G, Call sign: AJ-E, - Second wave. Crashed on outward flight.

    Jack Liddell had still not reached his nineteenth birthday when he climbed into the rear turret of AJ-E in the early evening of 16 May 1943. On a night when many young aircrew died, he has the dubious distinction of being the youngest of all. Like his comrades, he was first buried by the Germans in Dusseldorf Cemetery, but now lies in the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery at Reichswald Forest.

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  19. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Flying Officer (Air Gunner) GLINZ, HARVEY STERLING
    Service Number J/10212
    Died 16/05/1943
    Aged 22
    617 (R.A.F.) Sqdn
    Royal Canadian Air Force
    Son of Ernest Sterling Glinz and Pearl Emily Glinz, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

    Flg Off H S Glinz Front gunner - Lancaster serial number: ED927/G - Call sign: AJ-E - Second wave. Crashed on outward flight.

    Harvey Sterling Glinz was born in Winnipeg, the capital city of the province of Manitoba, Canada on 2 March 1922.
    Glinz was 617 Squadron’s A Flight gunnery leader, a role which would have meant he helped organise training for other gunners. He must have been awarded this role because of his rank, rather than experience, as there were other gunners in A Flight with a full completed tour under their belts. 

    By 16 May, training was completed and Glinz was in the front turret when AJ-E crossed the Rhine near Rees. A few minutes later they approached the line of HT electric wires outside Haldern, and collided with a pylon. 

    The seven bodies were buried by the Germans in Dusseldorf North cemetery, but they could only positively identify Leslie Whillis, Philip Burgess, Alan Gillespie and Charlie Williams. All were reburied after the war, as part of the work undertaken by the RAF’s Missing Research and Enquiries Service.

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  20. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Flying Officer (Navigator) BURGESS, PHILIP SIDNEY
    Service Number 124881
    Died 16/05/1943
    Aged 20
    617 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    Son of Willis and Marie Burgess.

    Flg Off P S Burgess Navigator - Lancaster serial number: ED927/G - Call sign: AJ-E - Second wave. Crashed on outward flight.

    Philip Sidney Burgess was born in Portsmouth in August 1922. Both his parents died when he was very young, so at the age of four he and his brother were adopted by the Rowland family in Folkestone, Kent.
    Despite the six weeks of low level training, Norman Barlow, Philip Burgess and the rest of the crew were all killed instantly when they hit a pylon just outside Haldern, Germany. Yet to turn 21, Philip Burgess was probably the youngest officer to take part in the Dams Raid. He was buried with his comrades in Dusseldorf Cemetery, and reinterred after the war in Reichswald Forest Cemetery. His brother, Carrol Burgess, served in the Royal Engineers and survived the war.

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