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It was seventy years ago on May 16th 1943

That the dams of the Ruhr Valley were destroyed
An attack which took the enemy by surprise
The first and only time a bouncing bomb was employed

The bombs had been designed by Barnes Wallis
From a idea derived from a childhood game
Skimming stones over water and counting the bounces
It evolved into something which brought him lasting fame

The barrel shaped bombs were tested on the waters of herne bay
And at first everything appeared to be going well
The bombs bounced as Barnes Wallis had envisaged
His disappointment came when the impact broke the outer shell

A squadron based at R.AF Scampton had been chosen for the raid
But at that time no-one realised the problems involved
As prototype after prototype failed the test
A different plan for the attack slowly evolved

The pilots had to be trained for low level flying
And this involved a lot of practice over Derwent Waters
It was important that the skills were acquired quickly
As the time for training got even shorter

The height and distance of the drop from the dam walls was crucial
The calculation of these factors had to be exact
Otherwise the bomb could bounce over the dam wall
The bomb had to hit the wall before it exploded
This was necessary to maximise the impact

Nineteen Lancaster’s set off on this special raid
They had to fly low to escape detection
They knew that if the raid was to succeed
That the bomb drop had to be made to perfection

The wing commander Guy Gibson led the attack
Which was met with a barrage of anti-aircraft fire
But one by one the planes pressed home their attack
For the destruction of the dams was their ardent desire

Only eleven of the nineteen Lancaster’s returned
Fifty three brave men lost their lives in this daring raid
No-one knows how much lasting damaged was achieved
But the morale booster foundation stone had been laid

Those brave men who flew on that raid are still remembered
They made a real contribution to our eventual victory
On that day the German war effort received a nasty jolt
The honour of 617 squadron was enshrined in history

Ron Martin


About poetreecreations

I am an author writer publisher web administrator I run poetry workshops in the community. My published Manners childrens poetry book can be found at

2 responses

  1. This is a well thought through poem dealing with one aspect of WWII. In Worcestershire, as in many other counties, we’re celebrating the centenary of WWI and the entrants to the Poet Laureate Competition this year were given the brief to write about ‘A Prelude To War’. The six finalists can be seen at: – you can vote for your favourite if you wish 🙂


  2. Wonderful poem about history. Thanks for honoring those guys. Not many people know about the bouncing bombs.


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