On Sunday 15 September 2013, Stu Davidson and his son Patrick flew over the St Pauls Anglican Church in Parsons Hill after the annual South African Air Force Association annual memorial of the Battle of Britain service which also commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Dam Busters raid. The Reverend Ruthell Johnson conducted the service. Stu and Patrick were flying a P52 Mustang and a Sea Fury.
Operation Chastise was an attack on German dams carried out on 16–17 May 1943 by Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron, subsequently publicised as the “Dam Busters”. The airmen used a specially developed “bouncing bomb” invented and developed by Barnes Wallis. The Möhne and Edersee Dams were breached, causing catastrophic flooding of the Ruhr valley and of villages in the Eder valley, while the Sorpe dam sustained only minor damage. Two hydroelectric powerplants were destroyed and several more were damaged. Factories and mines were also either damaged or destroyed. An estimated 1,600 people drowned. The damage was mitigated by rapid repairs by the Germans, with production returning to normal in September.
The operation was given to No. 5 Group RAF and led by 24 year-old Wing Commander Guy Gibson, a veteran of over 170 bombing and night-fighter missions, twenty-one bomber crews were selected from existing squadrons in 5 Group. These crews included RAF personnel of several different nationalities, as well as members of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), who were frequently attached to RAF squadrons under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The squadron was based at RAF Scampton, about 5 miles (8 km) north of Lincoln.
The targets selected were the two key dams upstream from the Ruhr industrial area, the Möhne Dam and the Sorpe Dam, with the Eder Dam on the Eder River, which feeds into the Weser, as a secondary target. While the loss of hydroelectric power was important, the loss of water supply to industry, cities, and canals would have greater effect. Also, there was the potential for devastating flooding if the dams broke.
The aircraft were modified Avro Lancaster Mk IIIs, known as B Mark III Special (Type 464 Provisioning). To reduce weight, much of the internal armour was removed, as was the mid-upper machine gun turret. The size of the bomb with its unusual shape meant that the bomb-bay doors had to be removed, and the bomb itself hung, in part, below the fuselage of the aircraft. It was mounted on two crutches, and before dropping it was spun up to speed by an auxiliary motor.
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