Dams Raid Story
FLYING TO THE DAMS - Low Level
At 9:30 pm on May 16, 1943 W/C Gibson took off to lead No. 617 Squadron to the Dams. The primary tactic that was used to reach the targets was low flying. The North Sea was crossed at the lowest possible altitude to avoid enemy radar. Once the enemy coast was reached, extremely low altitude was maintained in order to escape attack by enemy fighters.
The navigation, once the enemy coast had been crossed, was largely in the hands of the bomb aimer who, lying on his chest at the front of the aircraft, used a special roller to identify important features such as railway lines and canals and to avoid high-tension lines.
W/C Gibson at door; P/O Taerum (right).
"When we were on our way in we were picked up by searchlights. They were dazzling. The blue light was a master light. Once the blue light was on you the other ones automatically picked you up. But we were fortunate. We were able to shake it off. But we lost the other two aircraft we were going in with. So we just carried on singly."
"We were flying so low that more than once Spam (P/O Spafford, the bomb-aimer) yelled at me to pull up quickly to avoid high-tension wires and tall trees."
"If the wires in the moonlight were 'up here' (motioning above his head) we knew we'd have to go under them. If they were to flutter 'down there' (motioning below his head) we knew we'd go over them. It was that quick."
Bomber Command Museum of Canada