The Dambusters raid and our new atrium

Wing Commander Guy Gibson with members of his crew of 617 Squadron

Wing Commander Guy Gibson with members of his crew of 617 Squadron © IWM (TR 1127)

This week marks the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters raid. Next summer when our new atrium fully re-opens we’ll have a piece of the bar from the Petwood Hotel where the off-duty aircrews involved in the Dambusters raid would relax and socialise. A recent acquisition by IWM, this will be the first time the bar has ever been on public display.

Seventy years ago, on the night of 16–17 May 1943, Wing Commander Guy Gibson led an audacious bombing raid to destroy three dams in the Ruhr valley, the industrial heartland of Germany. The dams were fiercely protected. Torpedo nets in the water stopped underwater attacks and anti-aircraft guns defended them against enemy bombers. But 617 Squadron had a secret weapon: the ‘bouncing bomb’.

Animated gif showing a bouncing bomb test for the Dambusters raid

We’ve taken some archive footage of a Dambusters bouncing bomb test and turned it into an animated gif.

You can find out more about the Dambusters raid on our website here.

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