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'Dam Busters' - 60 years ago, the Möhne Dam was bombed

 
 
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 01:44 am
On the night of May 16, 1943, the British Air force sent a group of "dam buster" planes to attach the Mohne Dam in the Ruhr Valley, Germany's industrial heartland. Their plan was to put a hole in the dam so that the sudden release of water would then kill many people downstream.

The planes came in at 60 feet above the ground, and dropped their bombs. The bombs did not completely destroy the dam. But they did exactly what they wanted them to do. They put a big enough hole in the dam so that billions of gallons of water rushed through the opening and swept down the Ruhr Valley. Thirteen hundred people were killed as a result of a relatively small hole in a very large dam, villagers as well many Ukrainian women and children, trapped in a German prisoner of war camp below the Möhne dam.



Quote:

R.A.F. breach giant dams
New blow at Ruhr industries

Tuesday May 18, 1943

Power stations and bridges to be swept away
Floods reported to be `spreading fast'

Heavy blows of a new kind were delivered against Germany's war industry early yesterday, when a force of Lancaster bombers breached the enemy's three greatest dams at the Mohne, Eder, and Sorte reservoirs, which together control more than two-thirds of the water storage capacity of the Ruhr.

Aerial reconnaissance shows that the Mohne Dam has been breached over a length of 100 yards, that water is pouring down the Ruhr valley, that railway and road bridges have broken down, and that hydro-electrical power stations have been destroyed or damaged. The Eder, which controls the head waters of the Weser and Fulda valleys and operates several power stations, is also breached. Photographs show the river below in full flood. Floods are also rising in the Dortmund area, 30 miles away.

Picked Lancaster crews had been training in secret for the operation and only about half a dozen people in Bomber Command knew anything about it.

The dams were specially constructed to meet the enormous demands on water made by the Ruhr factories. The 134,000,000 tons controlled by the Mohne represents 30,016,000,000 gallons while the capacity of the larger Eder is 45,218,000,000. What these figures mean may be gathered from a comparison with the daily normal flow of the Thames at this time of year. At the height of the river's flow only 2,500,000,000 gallons pass down the Thames daily.

How attack was planned

A partial reconnaissance of the Ruhr Valley and the district near the Eder dam in daylight yesterday showed that the floods caused by the attacks on the three dams are spreading fast, said a report from the Air Ministry News Service last night.

The waters are sweeping down the Ruhr valley. Railways and road bridges are broken down, hydro-electrical power stations are destroyed or damaged, and a railway marshalling-yard is under water.

The floods from the Eder dam, breached in two places, are already as great as the floods in the Ruhr valley, but the country here is flatter and the water is likely to spread over a greater area.

Picked Lancaster crews had been chosen for the operation and had been training for it for many weeks. They worked in complete secrecy on a bomber station which, as far as possible, was cut off from any contact with the outside world. Only about half a dozen other men in the whole of Bomber Command knew what they were doing.

Effects of flood

In the early hours of yesterday, when the weather and light were exactly right, they carried out the operation. The purpose was to subject the whole Ruhr valley to almost as severe an ordeal as it has undergone by fire in the last three months, and to do the same for another industrial area farther east. These picked men, under the command of Wing Commander C.P. Gibson, D.S.O., and bar, D.F.C. and bar, went out to attack the three huge water barrage dams - two of them on the rivers Mohne and Sorte, tributaries of the River Ruhr, and the other on the River Eder.

The Lancaster crews knew how much depended on their success or failure. The opportunity might never come again, and it was an opportunity, as they knew, of doing as much damage as could be done by thousands of tons of bombs dropped on many nights running.

The Mohne and Sorte dams control some 70 per cent of the water catchment area of the Ruhr basin. Before they were built the Ruhr was always apt to run short of water in a dry season - the Sorpe reservoir alone takes two or three years to fill. If the reservoirs were suddenly emptied the floods that resulted would be as serious as the subsequent shortage of water. A total of 134,000,000 tons would pour out from the Mohne reservoir alone. The effects of both flood and shortage of water might be disastrous.

There are 300 and more waterworks and many pumping stations in the Ruhr valley. Interference with these would very seriously affect the supply of water for industrial processes. Thermo-eletric power stations would have no cooling water and many hydro-electric power stations along the Ruhr valley would be affected. River and canal traffic is of vital importance to all the industries of the Ruhr. With these dams gone and water pouring from the deep lakes behind them, the River Ruhr itself might become unnavigable and water level in the canals could not be maintained. Finally, there is a possibility that important industrial areas in the Ruhr would themselves be flooded.

Before the construction of the Eder dam - the reservoir is the largest in Germany and contains 202,000,000 tons of water - the rivers Eder and Weser regularly caused serious floods. The breaking of the dam would probably flood parts of Kassel, including important industrial areas, as well as of towns beyond. Agricultural districts along the Weser would also be inundated. Several hydro-electric stations would be affected, four of them of considerable value to the electrical supply of the whole district.

As with the two other dams, floods would do the first damage and the loss of the water the rest. The primary object of the reservoir is to store water to compensate the River Weser for water taken from it for the huge Mittelland Canal, the main artery for water-borne traffic from west to east and the link between all the main navigable rivers west of Berlin. Without the reservoir there would not be enough water for both the Weser and the Mittelland Canal. Navigation on one or the other and probably on both would be seriously affected.
from: Guardian Century



This year, on July 12, the dam celebrates it's 90th jubilee.

To see a view of the lake/dam as it is today, have a look at the webside of the local Tourist Information

http://www.moehnesee.de/historisches.htm

and click on "Sperrmauer-Panorama 360°" [i-pix video].


The anniversary is celebrated by
The Legendary Dambusters
More info about that jubilee here:
http://www.lincolnshirelife.co.uk/PAGES/DAM.html
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 01:52 am
As already mentioned above, this place is a touristic site today:

Quote:
Möhnesee - a natural resort in the Sauerland

Water, forest, gentile hills. Between them embed in the nature there are neat villages with idyllic half-timbered houses, small chapels and cosy restaurants. No fashionable leisure industriy, but the obvious quality of life of an intact recreation scenery awaits the guests in the municipality of Möhnesee.

The dam with the greatest surface measurement of the Westphalian dams offers pure nature on a surface of a lake of about 10 square kilometres and of a lakeside of over 40 Km length. The guest can be sure of recreation on and around the Möhnesee whether on a leisurely trip with the passenger ship, during a walk across the dam or a hike across the natural reserve Arnsberger Wald on the south edge of the lake.

If someone combines recreation with sporting activities, he or she has the opportunity to go swimming, surfing, sailing, diving, fishing as well as to play golf or tennis. Leisure arrangements for the friends of table tennis and mini golf as well as numerous playgrounds are a welcome opportunity for leisure activities, especially for families.

In the municipality of Möhnesee recreation close to nature and sporting leisure activities are linked symbiotically with cultural activities and events. Like this the municipality is home to a large number of artists, art studios and galleries. Worth seeing buildings provide an appropriate setting for annual recurring events with enjoy great popularity. For instance, the Drüggelter Kapelle, one of the smallest, prettiest but also most mysterious buildings of the 12th century, has for years been the place for Westphalia's smallest festival during Whitsun time, a name which was given to the Drüggelter Kunst-Stückchen as well. Since the first time when Vivaldi's seasons had been heard in the barn of the Drüggelter farm buildings, which had been adopted as a concert hall, nature and art are meeting in this place as there meet in the same way nature and history. Art is to be found in historical and contemporary works of different fields like music, literature, painting, theatre, mime, sculpture and photography.

Westphalian country baroque style is presented by the parish church of Körbecke St. Pankratius. The Kanzlerbrücke, one of Germany's prettiest stone-bridges, the Bismarck-Tower from which you can have a view into the distance of the Sauerland and the Soester Börde, the countryside-information-centre in the village Günne and much more are in the same way worth seeing and informative.

Comfortable pensions, good hotels, family apartments and cosy restaurants, which have a reputation for an excellent Westphalian home cooking and delicious local fish and game specialities, emphasise the attractiveness of this region. This is completed by the good links for getting to the area of the municipality of Möhnesee. You go by rail to Soest or Arnsberg and then you can continue your trip by bus to Möhnesee or by car along the A 44 Dortmund-Kassel. Even the airport Paderborn/Lippstadt is not far away.
from:
Kreis Soest - towns and municipalities
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 02:20 am
You'll find dozens of sites about this bombing (and the film about that, too).

This week in the history of war provides some excellent links.


The Historic Center Hagen provides links in German as well as in English about the Allied Bombing (and an excellent list of literature about the Battle of the Ruhr as well):

Online Resources
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 05:21 am
Here is a view of "Ladybower Reservoir" in 'Peak District National Park'.
(One of England's most famous walking areas and a wonderful countryside - thanks to McTag I had a wonderful day there last year!)
There, you'll find at the Derwent Dam a memorial to 617th Squadron ­ the Dambusters, who buzzed this place on low-level practices for their May 1943 raid on Moehne and Eder Dams in Germany.

http://www.heliscott.co.uk/images/ladybower.jpghttp://www.hydro.com.au/education/schemes/derwent/images/clark.gif
0 Replies
 
Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 05:58 am
Thanks for the invite Walter.

As a boy, I was brought up on the legend of 617 squadron, the Dambusters film, Barnes Wallis, bouncing bombs etc etc. I knew they practised on Derwent Water in the Lake District and on Ladybower. (Did McTag tell you the sunken remains of the village emerged from the water in the drought of 1976?)

The raid was seen as a great British success at the time. It was certainly audacious and used some novel weapons but it never paralysed the Ruhr industry because they only breached 2 out of the 3 dams...is that right?

The film has been shown so many times on tv that I am frankly sick of it. (Don't tell the BBC about the anniversary of the dam, they'll use it as an excuse to show the film again).

In the 1970's there was great controversy because Guy Gibson's black labrador dog was called Nigger.....not politically correct
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 06:08 am
As far as I could find out, there's no change that you'll get sick soon, Steve :wink:
However, in BBC-online archive I found this
Dam Buster labs broken up
[Möhne is in Westphalia, Sorpe and Eder are situated in Hessia, not Rhineland, as quoted!]
0 Replies
 
Mr Stillwater
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 06:25 am
Big deal Walter, I was bombed last month! And my in-laws haven't talked to me since!!!
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 11:55 am
Interesting, perhaps, is that after the war the Canadians had a big garnison close to the Möhnsee (including my favorite radio station of childhood: CFN) with an ice-stadium, which is nowadays run by the county. (Canadians were stationed here until the late 70's)

And the RAF (and Army as well) have still there Yacht club at the lake.
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 01:26 pm
Hey I wrote a reply to this, this afternoon, and it's vanished!

Thanks anyway Walter, good topic and interesting history.

If my reply doesn't show up later, I'll write another.

McT

Moehneseesegelklubzuschauer
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 02:04 pm
McTag wrote:


Moehneseesegelklubzuschauer


Laughing Laughing Laughing

Coronationstreetviewer
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 02:19 pm
Well I'll go to the foot of our stairs, chuck.
Tha's seen t'Street on t'telly?
"Corrie"'s reet popular here, like.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 May, 2003 02:22 pm
I even listen sometimes to The Archers.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 May, 2003 12:29 am
The inventor of World War II's bouncing bomb was honoured on Saturday - the 60th anniversary of the Dambusters raid, and
a Lancaster bomber made a nostalgic flight.
At Reculver, in Kent - where Barnes Wallis's bouncing bomb was tested - the flypast was watched by the designer's son, Christopher. The bomber also flew over other sites involved in preparations for the raids.

Anniversary tribute to Dambusters
0 Replies
 
Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 May, 2003 11:34 am
Well I know a little bit more about the Mohne dam now and I don't understand why the RAF wanted to bomb a tourist attraction with a cafe selling delicious strawberry cake and a boat with a smaller boat attached. Perhaps they were trying to wreck German economic activity starting with tourism.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 May, 2003 12:54 pm
I'm awfully sorry to have to correct you, Steve:
the cafe doesn't sell the boat(s) at all, they even don't sell the tickets for it (you get them at the kiosk and on the boat). Very Happy
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 May, 2003 02:34 pm
Oh ha ha

Do you know the tune? It goes

DA DA-DA DA DADA DA DA
DA DA-DA DA DADA DA DA
DAH DADA DA DA DADA
DAH DAH DADA DA DAHHHHH

Da Capo al Fine

McT
0 Replies
 
Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Jun, 2003 02:45 pm
Da Capo al Fine

Who the hell was he?

final verse slower now

DA DA DA DA ......

Walter, you (as usual) are entirely correct, they did not sell boats or tickets at the cafe but the strawberry gateaux was a vital economic resource for the entire German war machine (or so it says here in my Boy's Own Paper - the story of how the RAF destroyed the German cake industry).
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Jul, 2003 01:06 am
Some excellent photos of the Möhne Dam are to be found at this Canadian site:

The Mohne Dam

(McTag and Steve will recognize some :wink: )
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 11:03 am
The lady who sells icecream at the kiosk is called Mohne Lisa.

She has a lovely smile.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 11:24 am
Kiosk? Smile?



http://www.animationblast.com/events/icecream2.jpg


Laughing
0 Replies
 
 

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