Après Moi le Deluge Part 4

Après Moi le Deluge Part 4

The Upkeep mine was at last working and 617 Squadron had worked up to a level of skill that was unmatched amongst the Bomber Command units.  The waters of the Ruhr dams had reached their peak and the moon was waxing gibbous towards being full.  At last, all the preparation and training was going to be put to the test and the Dambusters raid was on!

At last… Upkeep had proved itself capable of being successfully dropped.


A painting depicting the attack.


Air Vice Martial Cochrane, Wing Commander Guy Gibson, King George VI and Group Captain Whitworth discussing the ‘Dambusters Raid’ in May 1943


The day after the raid showing the damage done to the Mohne dam. Belatedly, barrage balloons have appeared over the dam.


A visit by King George VI to 617 Squadron after the raid.


The Möhne dam as it looks today. A photograph taken by APG listener Emiel Achterberg from a C172 although he is also a keen balloonist.



Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to 617 Sqn, the Imperial War Museum, Flying Officer Jerry Fray RAF,  an RAF official photographer and APG listener Emiel Achterberg.

Après Moi le Deluge Part 3

Après Moi le Deluge Part 3

This is part three of a quadrilogy of stories about the Dambuster’s raid on the great dams of the Ruhr valley by No 617 Squadron.  Wallis faced an uphill struggle to convince the Air Ministry that his idea of bouncing a huge mine across the surface of the reservoirs, over torpedo nets and right up to the dam walls was feasible.  When finally given the go ahead he only had a few months to complete testing and then build a successful weapon.  In the meantime, a new Lancaster squadron had to be formed and trained. This is a remarkable story of genius and tenacity in equal parts.


A 1:50 Scale model of the Mohne Dam, blown up to demonstrate where the Upkeep mine should be placed.


Barnes Wallis watches a successful trial of Upkeep at Reculver.


A trail weapon recovered from Hearne Bay.


A surviving Upkeep mine.


Upkeep in position under Gibson’s Lancaster with the spinning mechanism visible.


Images under Creative Commons licence, with thanks to the Imperial War Museum, Martin Richards, the RAF, the Crown and the UK Government.

Après Moi le Deluge Part 2

Après Moi le Deluge Part 2

A man renown for his genius as a designer and inventor, Barnes Wallis turned his mind to helping Britain to win the Second World War by creating weapons that could defeat the industrial might of Germany.  From his ten ton bomb Tall Boy to the bouncing bomb Upkeep, his remarkable talent ran from designing Airships to supersonic aircraft.  This is his story.

Barnes Wallis as a young man in Naval Service.


Wallis’s geodesic design employed in the Wellington bomber allowed it to survive despite enormous damage.


The huge Tall Boy bomb, designed to penetrate deep into the earth before exploding.


The Swallow. Designed by Wallis as a variable geometry supersonic aircraft.



Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to the Royal Society on Twitter, The US Library of Congress, the Imperial War Museum, Royal Air Force and the RAF Museum Cosford.

Après Moi le Deluge

Après Moi le Deluge

This is the first of the four part story of Operation Chastise, the bombing of the great dams of Germany’s Ruhr valley during the Second World War.  This Tale examines the life of Wing Commander Guy Gibson, VC, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar who took on the task of forming the Squadron of Lancasters which would achieve world wide fame following the attack.  Gibson was, to some, a flawed character but his leadership, skill and determination to achieve his aim was never in question.

Guy Penrose Gibson.


Gibson stands on the steps of his Lancaster with his crew around him as they depart on the Dambusters raid.


Gibson’s final resting place, alongside his navigator who also died when their Mosquito crashed.


The English Heritage blue plaque that marks Gibson’s house in St John’s Wood, London.


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to the Royal Air Force, the Imperial War Museum, Edward X, Pandaplodder and Steenbergen.

Still Waiting for Help, Still Praying

Still Waiting for Help, Still Praying

The North of Africa holds the world’s largest hot desert, known as The Greatest Desert, or more commonly by the Arabic word Sahara.  The Lady be Good’s WW2 mission hadn’t gone well and crew of the were hopelessly lost and running out of fuel when the first engine failed. They decided to abandon the aircraft rather than risk a crash landing and they parachuted out over, what they believed to be, the sea… only to discover it was a sea of sand.

The Lady Be Good as it appeared when discovered from the air.


The aircraft was in surprisingly good shape, considering it landed itself.


The aircraft’s weapons were still functioning.


Some of the guns were still able to be fired.


My apologies to the sharp eared amongst you as I misspoke when describing Lt Hatton’s take off, “Pushing up the throttles of his two Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp supercharged radials…”  The Liberator is, of course, a four engined aircraft.

Images used under a Creative Commons licence with thanks to the US Air Force.