The Derwent and Howden Dams were built between 1901-1916, and for many years they remained at peace in the Derwent Valley, their waters only disturbed by the occasional storm, then the peace and tranquility of the valley was shattered and their waters flurried as the roar of Merlin engines powered a Lancaster bomber over the dam walls, as 617 Squadron began their training runs for that amazing attack on the Great Dams of Western Germany in World War II.
Derwent Dam (pictured) was chosen by the Lancaster bomber pilots as one of the areas for practising their intensive low level flying and bomb aiming techniques as it was very similar to the Germany dams they were going to attack. They needed to practice as it was a new " bouncing bomb" (invented by Dr Barnes Wallis) The idea was to drop the spherical bomb onto the water as one would skim a pebble, sending it bouncing along until it reached the dam wall, then it would sink to a certain depth and explode, breaching the dam wall. The practice raid was actually carried by a RAF Officer called Guy Gibson and he got the Victoria Cross for his efforts - our highest award for military gallantry. So over the next six weeks the valley had to endure this kind of disturbance as Lancaster after Lancaster roared down the valley at low level. It soon became evident that a southbound flight path over the Derwent Valley proved to present insufficient challengers for the aircrews, so they used Bamford Church Tower as a turning point and returned northbound to face a much harder exit from the valley.
I looked at your shot early in the week and have waited for this upload I know the dam busters story but have never seen where they practised .they where so brave men I like your picture you can imagine them flying over the water. Thank you I will add it as a favourite. Angela
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I read many notices about Guy Gibson and his war actions. I'm happy to see where they experimented the bouncing bombs. I saw a great film about this story called "The Dam Busters, Michael Anderson ,1955). A film to see. Thank you for this photo. Ciao