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Torrent rages along Ruhr

Daily Mirror 1943. Image: The Official Dambusters Experience, published by Carlton, £30.

On May 18, 1943, the Daily Mirror reported that "hundreds of square miles of devastation have spread through the Ruhr, Germany's most vital and most densely-populated industrial area".

Aerial photographs of the gushing Möhne and Eder dams gave the world its first insight into what would soon become known as the Dambusters raid, which had taken place less than 48 hours previously.

The Daily Mirror introduced to the British public the astounding damage that the Ruhr valley had already suffered, partly initiated by "a wave of some 30 feet high" that came from the breached Eder dam.

"Railways and road bridges are broken down. Hydro-electrical power stations are destroyed or damaged. A railway marshalling yard is under water."

The heroics of Wing Commander Guy Gibson, the commanding officer on the operation, were described by the Daily Mirror in some detail:

"After he had dropped his mines he flew up and down alongside the dam to draw the fire of the light AA guns on it. Guns were poking out of slots in the walls of the dam. The Lancaster’s gunners fired back as Gibson repeatedly flew through the barrage and this made some of the Germans' fire waiver."

One flight lieutenant remarked on the explosion from Gibson's mine creating "a spout of water" that "went up 300 feet in the air".

Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery on the Dambuster raid.

This blog is dedicated to the memory of Flying Officer Kenneth Earnshaw, a navigator in Lancaster 'M for Mother', 617 Squadron, who was killed in action on May 17, 1943.

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