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"There was water everywhere – it went up to about 1,000 feet"

Of the five aircraft sent to breach the Sorpe dam on 17 May 1943 during the Dambusters raid, only two reached their target. Despite bomb aimer Johnny Johnson's deadly accuracy, the bomb failed to breach the dam. However, in this guest blog Johnny recalls seeing below him the devastation caused by his Dambuster comrades who had managed to breach the Eder and Mohne dams.

"Barnes Wallis told us at our briefing that he estimated that we needed six bombs to crack that dam because of its structure and if we cracked it the water pressure would do the rest and judging by the amount of water in that dam he was right.

"I didn't see the explosion but Dave did and he estimated that the tower of water went up to about 1,000 feet so then we set course for home. And that was when I saw, what was for me, the highlight of the whole raid - our route took us over what had been the Mohne dam - there was water everywhere, it was just like an inland sea and it was still coming out of that dam 20 minutes/half an hour after that dam was breached.

 

"We turned for home and looking out of the perspex, the Flight Engineer said, 'We’ve got a burst tyre skipper'. So he taxied round to dispersal, and examined the aircraft. He started by giving us a right rollicking because his aircraft had been shot about so much.

"But then he explained, the shot had been heard and felt, and it went through the starboard undercarriage, burst a tyre en route, had then passed through the wing and landed in the roof just above the Navigator’s head. How lucky can you get? But we got away with it.

"We went back to the Sergeants' Mess for a meal but the mood was sombre. It was a tremendous loss for one squadron for one night's raid.

"Was it a success? It did delay some of Germany's ammunition production, not as much as we hoped but it was also important for the morale of the troops and the country."

Help us thank Dambuster Johnny Johnson for all that he did during the Second World War – leave a message for our Book of Gratitude.

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