Dam Busters: Canadian Airmen and the Secret Raid Against Nazi Germany

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HarperCollins, Sep 11, 2018 - History - 320 pages

National Bestseller

Foreword by Peter Mansbridge

“Barris tells the jaw-dropping story of a night that changed the war.” —The Globe and Mail

 It was a night that changed the Second World War. The secret air raid against the hydroelectric dams of Germany’s Ruhr River took years to plan, involved an untried bomb and included the best aircrewmen RAF Bomber Command could muster—many of them Canadian. The attack marked the first time the Allies tactically took the war inside Nazi Germany. It was a military operation that became legendary.

On May 16, 1943, nineteen Lancaster bombers carrying 133 airmen took off on a night sortie code-named Operation Chastise. Hand-picked and specially trained, the Lancaster crews flew at treetop level to the industrial heartland of the Third Reich and their targets—the Ruhr River dams, whose massive water reservoirs powered Nazi Germany’s military-industrial complex.

Each Lancaster carried an explosive, which when released just sixty feet over the reservoirs, bounced like a skipping stone to the dam, sank and exploded. The raiders breached two dams and damaged a third. The resulting torrent devastated enemy power plants, factories and infrastructure a hundred miles downstream.

Every airmen on the raid understood that the odds of survival were low. Of the nineteen outbound bombers, eight did not return. Operation Chastise cost the lives of fifty-three airmen, including fourteen Canadians. Of the sixteen RCAF men who survived, seven received military decorations.

Based on interviews, personal accounts, flight logs, maps and photographs of the Canadians involved, Dam Busters recounts the dramatic story of these young Commonwealth bomber crews tasked with a high-risk mission against an enemy prepared to defend the Fatherland to the death.




Air Ministry and Airmen Cast of Characters
An Earthquake Bomb
The Plan
A Tree in the Middle of England
Racehorses Standing in the Paddock
Big Do On
The Gauntlet
The Op Too
The Old Lags
Mythology Lost and Found
For All the Good It Did
About the Author

Après Moi le Déluge

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About the author (2018)

TED BARRIS has published twenty books of non-fiction, half of them wartime histories. The Great Escape: A Canadian Story won the Libris Award for Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year. Dam Busters: Canadian Airmen and the Secret Raid Against Nazi Germany received the RCAF Association NORAD Trophy. Rush to Danger: Medics in the Line of Fire was longlisted for the RBC Charles Taylor Prize. Ted Barris is a Member of the Order of Canada.

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