The story of how the British attacked German dams in World War II by using an ingenious technique to drop bombs where they would be most effective.The story of how the British attacked German dams in World War II by using an ingenious technique to drop bombs where they would be most effective.The story of how the British attacked German dams in World War II by using an ingenious technique to drop bombs where they would be most effective.
in Scotland, was formed and trained there. They practised on the Derwent Reservoir near Sheffield, and the Eyebrook Reservoir in Leicestershire.
Sir Barnes Wallis thought in innovative ways, and the fact that this 'far out' idea of bouncing bombs on a lake, actually breached two dams is an engineering marvel. To do so under heavy flak is beating the odds. Wallis and 617 Squadron collaborated again with the Tallboy and Grand Slam 'earthquake' bombs, which destroyed many important railway viaducts and tunnels, as well as sinking the Tirpitz.
Richard Todd, after the film, moved 3 miles from Grantham. Maybe the film was the reason for this.
The film is one of few about RAF Bomber Command, and is a good portrayal of the danger involved. 41% of crew were killed (55,000). After early 1944, the loss rate rapidly decreased, as the Luftwaffe had been destroyed, so from 1940-3 I would guess 60-70% of crew were killed, for the whole campaign. It may be higher. The RAF didn't even know the Germans had excellent radar until early 1942. The film is about team work and working under stress - your immediate future depended on 6 other people. Many things could go wrong along the way. It is also about strong resilience to new ideas. i.e. The RAF could have had jet planes before 1939 if they'd have developed Whittle's ideas in the 1930s, instead of foolishly waiting 10 whole years until 1941. Whittle was then humiliated after the war by forcing him to give all his designs to the Americans, who didn't waste any time in treating the idea as their own.
When I first saw the film, I thought the special effects were weak and I was astonished a bomb bounced in the first place. When older and seeing it again, you can empathise more with the RAF crews and the skill and daring they would need. It focuses on one story line, and does not have American accents mysteriously appearing from nowhere. I think at the time Guy Gibson was about 25. Imagine yourself having that responsibility at 25.
Many of the 'Upkeep' mines that were bounced, completely missed the targets. Certainly for the Eder dam, there was just one mine left, and was dropped in the right place and destroyed the dam in 'one go'. The film gives the impression many were exploded to breach the dam, but actually a single one did the 'job'.
The Germans are never shown, and I would love to have known what they thought seeing this strange sight of bombs skimming the water's surface. I think Spielberg would have enjoyed making this film, but half of it would have been about the Germans. If the dams had been breached six months earlier, when a water pumping system had not been installed, the Germans would have been seriously up the creek with no paddles. The Ruhr Industry would have been unable to function at all. Do not underestimate what hypothetical difference the dams breach could have made to the Germans in their biggest industrial area.
Do women enjoy the film too, or is all the technical wizardry just for the male audience?
Why did Pink Floyd use it in their film 'The Wall'? Carling Black Label used the lake scenes many times in notorious adverts.
- Oct 17, 2004