Today is the Anniversary of Operation Chastise... Commonly know as the "Dambusters" !

On the night of 16-17 May 1943, Wing Commander Guy Gibson led 617 Squadron of the Royal Air Force on an audacious bombing raid to destroy three dams in the Ruhr valley, the industrial heartland of Germany. The mission was codenamed Operation 'Chastise'.

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'.

From 9.28pm on 16 May, 133 aircrew in 19 Lancasters took off in three waves to bomb the dams. Guy Gibson was flying in the first wave and his aircraft was first to attack the Möhne (pictured here) at 12.28am, but five aircraft had to drop their bombs before it was breached. The remaining aircraft still to drop their bombs then attacked the Eder, which finally collapsed at 1.52am. Meanwhile, aircraft from the two other waves bombed the Sorpe but it remained intact.

Of the 133 aircrew that took part, 53 men were killed and three became prisoners of war. On the ground, almost 1,300 people were killed in the resulting flooding. Although the impact on industrial production was limited, the raid gave a significant morale boost to the people of Britain.

The surviving aircrew of 617 Squadron were lauded as heroes, and Guy Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the raid. The raid also established 617 Squadron as a specialist precision bombing unit, experimenting with new bomb sights, target marking techniques and colossal new 'earthquake' bombs developed by Barnes Wallis.