The Dams Raid


 The Dams Raid

By Michael Shrimpton

Today is the 70th anniversary of the great Dams Raid by Guy Gibson VC and 617 Squadron on the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams in Germany, so it is appropriate to honor these brave men.   Although I am an Honorary Life Member of Bomber Command Association I have only ever met a couple of the guys who were on that raid, sadly no longer with us.  They were wonderful people.

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It is even more appropriate to have the 70th Anniversary fall in a week in which Tory Eurosceptics breached David Cameron’s European policy.  The water is pouring through.  Hopefully the Coalition Government will be washed away within weeks.  There is already talk of a General Election in July, which would most likely be followed by British withdrawal from the evil European Union, successor to the Third Reich, whose founding father, Jean Monnet, worked hard for a Nazi victory in World War II.
The raid hit our community partners the Nazis hard.  The physical damage was bad enough but the blow to German morale was as great as the lift to British.  The psychological effect was far greater than the kinetic effect.  Even Stalin was impressed.  It was a wonderful demonstration of the power and accuracy of Bomber Command.  The raid was also a splendid tribute to the mighty Avro Lancaster, the finest bomber of the Second World War.  The B-29 flew further, faster and higher, but actually had a smaller maximum offensive load and was less maneuverable.  It was also deployed in smaller numbers.  The B-29 was also only operational in the last year or so of the war.  The Lanc was so good the DVD later assassinated its designer, Roy Chadwick.
The Dams Raid concept was brilliant, the brainchild of Barnes Wallis of Vickers.  A first class chap, his late son was an expert in building bridges, ironically.   I relied on a report he did in the successful fight to save the Settle to Carlisle Railroad in England.  I don’t know if he built any dams.  A friend of mine, a Bomber Command veteran, was a technical adviser on the famous Dambusters movie.  It’s still one of the great war movies, well worth showing again on American TV.  We show it from time to time over here, to boost morale.
Not everybody on the raid was British of course.  Micky Martin and Dave Shannon were Aussies.  They were bloody good blokes.
I deal with the intelligence background in Spyhunter, set for publication in the summer.  The community partners had a spy in the Air Ministry (the Air Minister), not to mention Duncan Sandys.  They were able to water down the target list and probably moved some additional AA kit in.  They were willing to sacrifice a couple of dams in order to protect their sources.  The raids even had an impact on D-Day, as slave labor and materials had to be diverted from building the Atlantic Wall.
There was also interference on the design of the Lancaster.  It was based on the Manchester, a pig of plane if you were asymmetric, which you often were as the engines tended to overheat.  They were great big 24-cylinder Rolls-Royce Vultures, 42.47 liters compared with just 27 for the Merlin.  They were so big you could have put them in an Edsel.  A slight problem was that all 4 big ends were connected to a single crankpin (Lumsden) and they tended to break as well as overheat.
The real problem however was the design of the cowlings on the Manchester.  Development of the Vulture was held back for political, not technical reasons.  It was sorted by the time Lancaster came along.  The Vulture eventually ended up knocking out about 3,000 HP – it really was a stonking motor.  Four of them on a Lancaster, with a wider span wing and four-bladed paddle props would have turned what was already a great bomber into a real hot-rod, able to outrun even single-engined German fighters, never mind their slow old night-fighters, held back by their clunky radar.
Some idiot has now made bombing dams illegal, which takes all the fun out of having a war with Germany.  We need to pull out of that treaty fast!   There is no doubt that the 617 boys deeply upset our community partner Adolf Hitler.  God Bless them.
The failure to award Bomber Command a medal has been an absolute disgrace and a stain upon the escutcheon of Whitehall’s honor.  Most of the civil servants blocking the award have been German assets – it just goes to show effective Bomber Command really were.  Even after 70 years our community partners are still having a hissy fit.  I am more than ever proud that I ignored the mindless demonstrators and attended the unveiling of the statute to the immortal Bomber Harris, their great commander, more than 20 years ago.  You wouldn’t catch Bert Harris waiting four years for a referendum!   Initially he opposed the raid, as he didn’t like special squadrons.  He soon came round to the idea however.  I gather he was dead chuffed when he saw the recon photos after the raid, showing big holes in the dams.
Michael Shrimpton


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Michael Shrimpton was a barrister from his call to the Bar in London in 1983 until being disbarred in 2019 over a fraudulently obtained conviction. He is a specialist in National Security and Constitutional Law, Strategic Intelligence and Counter-terrorism. He is a former Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies at the American Military University. Read Articles from Michael Shrimpton; Read Michael Shrimptons' Full Complete Bio >>>