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One of the most lauded historians of our time returns to the Second World War in this magnificent retelling of the awe-inspiring raid on German dams conducted by the Royal Army Force’s 617 Squadron. The attack on Nazi Germany’s dams on May 17, 1943, was one of the most remarkable feats in military history. The absurdly young men of the Royal Air Force’s 617 Squadron set forth in cold blood and darkness, without benefit of electronic aids, to fly lumbering heavy bombers straight and level towards a target at a height above the water less than the length of a bowling alley. Yet this story—and the later wartime experience of the 617 Squadron—has never been told in full. Max Hastings takes us back to the May 1943 raid to reveal how the truth of that night is considerably different from the popularized account most people know. The RAF had identified the Ruhr dams as strategic objectives as far back as 1938; in those five years Wing Commander Guy Gibson formed and trained the 617 Squadron. Hastings observes that while the dropping of Wallis’s mines provided the dramatic climax, only two of the eight aircraft lost came down over the dams—the rest were shot down on the flight to, or back from, the mission. And while the 617 Squadron’s valor is indisputable, the ultimate industrial damage caused by the dam raid was actually rather modest. In 1943, these brave men caught the imagination of the world and uplifted the weary spirits of the British people. Their achievement unnerved the Nazi high command, and caused them to expend large resources on dam defenses—making the mission a success. An example of Churchill’s “military theatre” at its best, what 617 Squadron did was an extraordinary and heroic achievement, and a triumph of British ingenuity and technology—a story to be told for generations to come. Operation Chastise includes three 8-page black-and-white photo inserts and 6 maps.
In May 1943 a specially established RAF squadron made its permanent imprint on military aviation history by flying a high-risk, low level, nighttime attack against German hydro-electric dams vital to the Nazi armaments industry in the Ruhr Valley. A comparatively tiny part of Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris' four-month-long "Battle of the Ruhr†? this one raid had an impact totally out of proportion to the small number of aircraft involved. It highlights the synergy of science and technology, weapons development and production, mission planning and practice, and the unflinching courage in the execution of a highly dangerous bombing raid. Furthermore, it established a legend that still resonates today.
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 aircrews the RAF Bomber Command could muster—many of them Canadian. The raid marked the first time the Allies successfully took the war inside Nazi Germany. It was a mission that became legendary. On May 16, 1943, nineteen Lancaster bombers filled with 133 airmen took off on a night mission 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 that, 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 severely damaged a third. The resulting torrent devastated power plants, factories and infrastructure a hundred miles downstream. Every one of the 133 airmen on the mission understood that the odds of survival were low. Of the nineteen bombers outbound, 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 personal accounts, flight logs, maps and photographs of the Canadians involved, Dam Busters recounts the dramatic story of these young Commonwealth bomber crews that were tasked with a high-risk mission against an enemy prepared to defend the Fatherland to the death.
617 Squadron of 5 Group RAF Bomber Command was without doubt the most famous RAF Squadron in World War II. It was formed to carry out the precision low-level attack on the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe Dams, using Barnes Wallaces newly developed rotating mine, now commonly referred to as The Bouncing Bomb. The raid was a tremendous success, although at great cost to the squadron, and proved to be a great moral booster for the war-weary British public. Guy Gibson VC was tasked with organizing the formation and training of the new squadron and the Dambusters have been national heroes ever since. Although several books have previously been written on this epic adventure, this is a new look at their first raid and then the long and envious history of 617 until the end of the war. This new version of the Dams raid within the book, pays particular attention to timings, as it is easy to overlook the fact, that this was a complex three-phase operation, spanning 8 hours and 47 minutes, with action occurring simultaneously at widely dispersed locations. It also attempts to settle finally the circumstances of the losses, by examining the testimony of eyewitnesses on both sides, and presenting arguments to help readers decide for themselves what actually happened where previous accounts are contradictory or at variance. In the later war years 617 suffered greatly during an attack on the Dortmund-Ems Canal but recovered and their list of priority special targets then included the German missile research plant at Peenemunde, Hamburg, the U boat pens at La Pallice and the sinking of the battleship Tirpitz. The legendary Leonard Cheshire VC led the Squadron for much of that period. This newly researched account of 617s wartime record contains many first-hand accounts from squadron members and also German and Dutch witnesses who were present at some of the most spectacular raids and have explained many of the mysterious losses of the Squadrons aircraft.Lengthy appendices contain a Roll of Honour, Commanders, Airfields and aircraft, Operational statistics and Aircraft Histories.
In April 2019 Lord Ashcroft published the results of his year-long investigation into South Africa’s captive-bred lion industry. Over eleven pages of a single edition of the Mail on Sunday he showed why this sickening trade, which involves appalling cruelty to the ‘King of the Savannah’ from birth to death, has become a stain on the country. Unfair Game, to be published in June 2020, features the shocking results of a new inquiry Lord Ashcroft has conducted into South Africa’s lion business. In the book, he shows how tourists are unwittingly being used to support the abuse of lions; he details how lions are being tranquilised and then hunted in enclosed spaces; he urges the British government to ban the import of captive-bred lion trophies; and he demonstrates why Asia’s insatiable appetite for lion bones has become a multimillion-dollar business linked to criminality and corruption, which now underpins South Africa's captive lion industry.
During the darkest days of the Second World War, the Allies listened intently to the messages of the enemy. Every whisper built a picture of the threat to come - weapons that were terrifying in their murderous capabilities. Target London is the dramatic tale of the inception of the German V-weapons, the Allies' epic race to discover the truth about them and the rockets' effects on the streets of London. Investigative historian Christy Campbell brilliantly interweaves the many strands of this gripping episode. At the heart of this tale is London - the target of Nazi Germany's plan to crush British morale.
James D. Kiras shows how a number of different special operations, in conjunction with more conventional military actions, achieve and sustain strategic effect(s) over time. In particular, he argues that the root of effective special operations lies in understanding the relationship existing between moral and material attrition at the strategic level. He also presents a theoretical framework for understanding how special operations achieve strategic effects using a unique synthesis of strategic theory and case studies. This study shows how the key to understanding how special operations reside in the concept of strategic attrition and in the moral and material nature of strategy. It also highlights major figures such as Carl von Clausewitz, Hans Delbrück, and Mao Zedong, who understood these complexities and were experts in eroding an enemy’s will to fight. These and other examples provide a superb explanation of the complexities of modern strategy and the place of special operations in a war of attrition. This book will be of great interest to all students and scholars with an interest in special forces and of strategic and military studies in general.