In early 1943 the Allies needed a hero and something to celebrate. Britain, Canada, and other members of the Commonwealth had been at war for 3 1/2 years and Bomber Command was still the only offensive punch that was capable of making itself felt within Hitler’s European fortress. Guy Gibson and the Dam Busters, as they soon were known as, became the heroes and many believe that the momentum of the war seemed to change with the raid.
The loss of men and aircraft was exceptionally high -eight of the nineteen Lancasters did not return. Only 77 of the 133 airmen returned to base and just three of the 56 airmen that did not return survived to become Prisoners of War. A low-level operation such as the Dams Raid left little chance for escape once an aircraft had been hit.
“If we did nothing else, we gave the people in this country a lift.”
– Sgt. D. Webb (F/Sgt. Anderson’s front gunner)
“We couldn’t believe that there were so many missing. When we got out of the aircraft the ground crews of all the aircraft were standing around long faced, tears running down their cheeks. We were the only ones that were sort of elated in saying, ‘Well, we made it back.'”
– F/Sgt. Ken Brown
“I well remember the destruction of the Mohne and Eder dams while I was in a prison camp. It had an enormous effect on the Germans and the opposite effect, of course, on the Prisoners of War.”
– Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader
“It was a great success, but a great many young men died. Barnes Wallis was in tears when I left.”
– Roy Chadwick