AJ-J's part in The Dams Raid
4. Flight home and debriefing
The lake began to calm down again and Gibson called Shannon into the attack. But as Shannon began to line up the circling crews realised that the dam had indeed been broken. David’s mine, dropped to the left of Young’s, had been pulled towards it by the ﬂow of water before it exploded and caused a second breach. It was 0056, a full six minutes after David’s attack, when the breach was confirmed and the message arrived at Grantham.
Scenes of jubilation followed. Wallis leapt into the air, arms aloft. As Harris shook his hand, everyone who heard him remembers the words: ‘Wallis, I didn’t believe a word you said when you came to see me. But now you could sell me a pink elephant.’
At the Möhne the seven aircraft still aloft circled for a short while, chattering amongst themselves on the VHF sets. Then Gibson, conscious that they had only attacked the ﬁrst of the night’s targets, ordered the three that had still not bombed, Shannon, Maudslay and Knight, to accompany him and Young to the Eder. (Young was to act as his deputy if he went down.) He told David and Mick Martin to set course for home. At 0053 1/2, according to the meticulous Vivian, AJ-J set a bearing of 280 degrees and headed off. They crossed the coast exactly one hour after leaving the Möhne, meeting some ﬂak and searchlights there and with the Gee ‘still no dice’. Crossing the North Sea, the Gee rather belatedly became ‘faint but workable’. They crossed the bombing range at Wainﬂeet in the Wash, and touched down at Scampton at 0311. Martin’s aircraft arrived safely eight minutes later.
© Charles Foster 2008
A surveillance photograph of the Möhne Dam, taken by the RAF after the raid. The barrage balloons were not present on the night of the raid.