Low Pass over the Mohne Dam by Anthony Saunders
Operation Chastise, the plan to destroy the mighty Ruhr dams, was bold, audacious and dangerous. It was also set to become one of the most legendary combat missions ever undertaken in the history of aviation warfare.
In late February 1943 a unique decision was taken by the RAF; a highly specialised squadron would be created within Bomber Command. Its task was to be the destruction of the huge Mohne and Sorpe dams, which provided hydro-electric power to the Ruhr, and the Eder dam which helped keep canals at navigable depth. It was believed that if the Mohne, Sorpe and Eder Dams could be destroyed, German industry would be deprived of a vital energy source.
Tasked with providing the crews for this new squadron was the young, outstanding, bomber and night-fighter pilot Wing Commander Guy Gibson, already a veteran of 174 bomber operations. On 21 March 1943 the now legendary 617 Squadron was formed at RAF Scampton under his command, and the chosen men had just eight weeks to prepare for the task in hand.
The nineteen specially modified Lancasters assigned to 617 Squadron would drop a unique
mine developed by the aeronautical design genius Barnes Wallis. Wallis, whose revolutionary geodesic construction of airships and the Wellington bomber had stunned the aviation world, had developed this special 'bouncing bomb' which, when dropped from a precise low level, would bounce across the water like a skimming stone before sliding down the dam wall and detonating.
With training complete, the plan was put into operation on the night of 16/17 May 1943. Of the nineteen Lancasters that took off from Scampton that night, eight would never return, but the damage and industrial dislocation caused was considerable, and the boost to the morale of the British people immense. For his efforts that night Guy Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross, whilst 34 other aircrew were decorated, an unprecedented number of awards for a single raid.
Anthony Saunders' powerful new painting Low Pass over the Mohne Dam portrays Guy Gibson under fire from the defending garrison as he powers his Lancaster AJ-G at full throttle over the dam to confirm the extent of the successful breach during Operation Chastise. Below him, and clearly visible, the bright moonlight reveals the huge rupture in the dam's massive wall as the swirling avalanche of water surges into the valley below. With the subsequent destruction of the Eder Dam, and the damage to the Sorpe Dam, the men of 617 Squadron had achieved what they were asked, and more.
With each print signed by Squadron Leader George Johnson who was Bomb Aimer on American Joe McCarthy's Lancaster that attacked the Sorpe Dam, and two veterans who worked with the essential ground operations for the raid, this brilliant new rendition by Anthony Saunders is a highly desirable target for Dambuster and aviation art enthusiasts alike.
The Dambusters Raid of 16/17 May 1943 was one of the most dangerous air operations carried out during World War II.
It depended on the skills of highly trained aircrew backed by some of the finest ground staff in the Royal Air Force who, until now, have remained some of the unsung heroes of that memorable night. Each print in Anthony Saunders' magnificent new rendition of 'Operation Chastise', is signed by both aircrew and groundcrew veterans who were part of one of the most celebrated missions in the history of aviation warfare.
Squadron Leader GEORGE L. JOHNSON DFM RAF
Joining the RAF in 1940, George Johnson had flown 28 operations on Lancasters with 97 Squadron at Woodhall Spa before joining 617 Squadron on 25 March 1943 as Bomb Aimer on American Joe McCarthy's reserve Lancaster AJ-T, which attacked the Sorpe Dam. Being a reserve aircraft, this Lancaster had not been fitted with the twin spotlights necessary for accurate height keeping, and it was on their tenth attempt that George released their bomb, hitting the Dam successfully but the earth dam survived the blast. For his actions he was awarded the DFM. Commissioned in November 1943, he remained in the RAF after the war and retired in 1962.
Corporal KENNETH LUCAS RAF
Ken Lucas joined the RAF in June 1940, and trained as ground crew for Bomber Command. He was sent first to 49 Squadron at RAF Scampton, before transferring to 617 Squadron upon its formation. Involved in all the major servicing of the aircraft, Ken was heavily engaged in carrying out the modifications to the aircraft before the raid, including fitting the motors that drove the belt that spun the bomb, and attaching the crucial lamps to the underside of the aircraft.
Corporal MAUREEN STEVENS WAAF
As soon as she was old enough to volunteer, Maureen Stevens joined the WAAF, and after her initial training was posted to RAF Scampton. Here she worked as an R/T operator in the control tower. Maureen was duty R/T operator on the night of 16/17 May 1943, and it was she who talked home the survivors of the Dambuster Raid, and spoke and listened until the last for those who didn't make it home.
425 Limited Edition prints with 3 signatures
25 Artist Proofs with 3 signatures
25 Remarques with 3 signatures
10 Double Remarques with 3 signatures
Overall Print Size approx: 32" wide x 24" high Image Size: 25½" wide x 16½" high
Each Edition is individually hand-numbered Acid Free Permanent Paper