BUSTED: The Moehne Dam five hours after the attack. JACK LEGGO
EVEN in today’s modern aircraft, it would be considered an ambitious plan.
The raid, labelled “Operation Chastise”, called for the crews to bomb from an altitude of 18metres (60feet) and at the exact speed of 354km/h (220miles) so their bombs would bounce across the water and strike the dam wall without breaking up.
All this while the Lancaster bombers were attracting heavy anti-aircraft fire from sites on the dam itself and surrounding hills.
Officially listed as No.617 squadron, they were better known as the Dam Busters and their legacy has been secured in history due to their heroic acts, which generated more than a dozen books, a 1955 film and a 1984 video game.
Today marks 70 years since that famous battle, widely regarded as a major turning point in the war.
The leading Lancasters arrived at the Mohne Dam, the first of the four dams attacked, at midnight on May 16, 1943.
The anniversary is being widely commemorated in the UK, with a flypast planned at the 617 Squadron base at Scampton, Lincolnshire.
Two members of the Dam Busters – Jack Leggo and Robert Kellow – spent time in the Hunter growing up.
Mr Leggo was born in Sydney but moved to Speers Point where he attended Newcastle Boys High School with Newcastle-born Mr Kellow.
The pair survived the war and returned to the Hunter after their service.
Mr Leggo was knighted in 1982 and died in Brisbane in 1983. Mr Kellow died in 1988.
HISTORIC RAID: From left, Dam Busters crew members Jack Leggo, Tammy Simpson, Robert Hay, Toby Foxlee and Mick Martin.
An Avro Lancaster heavy bomber