AJ-J's part in The Dams Raid
3. AJ-J's attack
As they waited, knowing they were next in, David and his crew continued to circle north of the dam, along with the aircraft of Shannon, Maudslay and Knight. Vivian Nicholson noted ‘ﬂak none too light’. Gibson told David to go ahead at 0048, and Vivian wrote, ‘received OK’ as they started the approach. This time, three Lancasters ﬂew towards the target. Gibson on David’s starboard side, Martin over to port.
Anthony Stone checked the spinning mine, John Fort lay ﬂat on his stomach in the front fuselage, waiting, with Vic Hill’s feet planted in their stirrups over his head. As they came over the spit of land, Vivian turned on the spotlights and peered out of the starboard blister at the beams, calling, ‘Down, down’ as their lights came closer and closer. Up in the cockpit, in the left-hand seat, David adjusted the height and kept the aircraft level while, next to him, Bill Hatton watched the speed and moved the throttles. As they approached the dam wall, David suddenly realised that from this close he could see a small breach had occurred in the centre and that there was crumbling along the crown. Young’s mine had been successful after all! In a last second change of plan he veered slightly to port but stayed dead level as John Fort steadied himself to press the release. The mine bounced four times and struck the wall. Over the dam they ﬂew, now turning hard left, Harold Simmonds in the rear turret ﬁring on the gun emplacements that were still active.
It wasn’t yet obvious whether the attack had been successful so at 0050 Antony Stone, doing his job correctly, radioed ‘Goner 78A’ back to Grantham. (‘Goner’ meant a successful attack, ‘7’ an explosion in contact with the dam, ‘8’ no apparent breach, ‘A’ the target was the Möhne.)
David said afterwards that, ‘our load sent up water and mud to a height of a 1,000 ft. The spout of water was silhouetted against the moon. It rose with tremendous speed and then gently fell back. You could see the shock wave at the base of the jet.’
‘Bomb dropped. Wizard.’ was what Vivian noted immediately in his log. Next page