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
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
Orders from outside the European Union are free of vat
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