THE DAM BUSTERS 2018 – 1oz 9999 GOLD £100 COIN
Operation Chastise was an attack on German dams carried out on 16–17 May 1943 by the Royal Air Force, subsequently called the Dam Busters raid. The operation used a purpose-built “bouncing bomb” developed by Barnes Wallis.
The Möhne and Edersee Dams were breached, causing catastrophic flooding of the Ruhr valley and of villages in the Eder valley. Two hydroelectric power stations were destroyed and several more damaged. Factories and mines were also damaged and destroyed.
Before World War II, the British Air Ministry had identified the industrialised Ruhr Valley as an important strategic target. In addition to providing hydro-electric power and pure water for steel-making, they supplied drinking water and water for the canal transport system. Calculations indicated that attacks with large bombs could be effective but required a degree of accuracy which RAF Bomber Command had been unable to attain when attacking a well defended target.
The Dams Raid was, like many British air raids, undertaken with a view to the need to keep drawing German defensive effort back into Germany and away from actual and potential theatres of ground war, a policy which culminated in the Berlin raids of the winter of 1943–1944. In May 1943 this meant keeping the Luftwaffe aircraft and anti-aircraft defences away from the Soviet Union; in early 1944, it meant clearing the way for the aerial side of the forthcoming Operation Overlord.