Operation Chastise

17 May 1943

At about 9.30 pm on 16 May, a force of 19 Lancaster bombers of No 617 Squadron, RAF, took off from England on a precision low-level bombing raid against four dams supplying water to German industrial centres in the Ruhr and Weser valleys. The aircraft carried novel bouncing mines specially designed to breach the retaining walls of the targeted dams. Sixteen machines of the force succeeded in penetrating enemy territory to carry out the attacks; among their crews were 13 RAAF members, and four aircraft were captained by Australians. After the Möhne Dam was destroyed about 1.00 am on this day, the attacking force moved on to the Eder Dam, which was also breached about an hour later. Strikes on the Sorpe and Lister Dams failed. Two participating Australians died in the operation, and one survived to be taken prisoner.