The Dambusters is a History Documentary programme.
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We tell the true story of the celebrated raid on Hitler's industrial hub in 1943, drawing on eyewitness testimony and archive film. A recent reappraisal of the 'bouncing bomb' operation suggests that, while it was an important propaganda victory for the British, the physical damage inflicted by the raid was less significant.
On the night of the 16 May, 1943, 617 squadron launched an attack on the Ruhr, the hub of the German industrial empire. They were using a new kind of bomb, the bouncing bomb, developed by young scientist Barnes Wallis. The bombs did their work, smashing the walls of the Moehne and the Eder dams. News came back that Hitler's industrial base was flooded. The headline writers made hay - it was an unbelievable coup for the Allies.
A third dam, the Sorpe, had been targeted, but without success. The failed attempt was carried out by the 'F for Freddy' crew - who didn't make it into the famous feature film! In this documentary we reunite the crew led by Ken Brown, and hear their accounts of the raid.
The construction of the bouncing bomb was jealously guarded by British Intelligence. But it was not widely known that the Germans had captured a bomb on the night of the raid - and ten days later they had drawn up its specification and were making their own version of the weapon. The other less-publicised fact was that many of the German factories affected were up and running again within days.
The biggest impact of the Dambusters operation was in propaganda terms. It provided a boost in morale at a pivotal juncture. Churchill seized the moment to gee up the Americans, who were becoming disillusioned, and to bring Stalin into line with a promise to share the secrets of the bomb.
A recent reappraisal of the 'bouncing bomb' operation suggests that, while it was an important propaganda victory for the British, the physical damage inflicted by the raid was less significant.
Genre: History Documentary
Running Time: 60 minutes (approx)
Database last updated: 19 January - 19:35