Dambusters Tour 2023 - 'The Dams'. 80th Anniversary commemoration.
13-19 May 2023
DAMBUSTERS TOUR 2023 - 'The Dams'. 80th Anniversary Commemoration.
Immerse yourself in the history of the Dambusters raid, one of the most remarkable military actions of World War Two on land, sea or air and commemorate the gallant heroes of No. 617 Squadron, with like-minded enthusiasts.
Join us from May 13th-19th 2023 for the Dambusters Tour – 'The Dams', and commemorate the 80th anniversary of this incredible wartime mission. Learn about the raid planning, the weeks of intensive low-level training and the aircrews as they battle to be ready in time for take-off on 16th May 1943, with our truly interactive and exclusive tour.
Traveling to Germany by luxury coach, you will learn about the impact on the local communities and see how difficult the aircraft positioning was for each target in the few seconds that the crews had to prepare whilst on their bombing run. The highlight of your tour will be a 60-minute helicopter flight* over all three dams following the same route as the legendary 617 Squadron crews.
The tour culminates with visits to several of the Lancaster crash sites and two important cemeteries, including the one where the leader of the dams raid, Wing Commander Guy Gibson, is buried, in Holland.
The Dambusters Story
The night of 16th May 1943 was clear with a full moon, perfect conditions for the Dambusters raid, officially known as Operation Chastise. The specially modified Lancasters of 617 Squadron were despatched in three waves from RAF Scampton.
Wing Commander Guy Gibson led the first wave and attacked the Möhne Dam. The bombs had to be released from precisely 60 feet, at a speed of 220 - 240 m.p.h. His ‘Upkeep’ mine detonated successfully but failed to breach the dam. After two further unsuccessful attacks Squadron Leader Young's mine began to crack the dam and Flight Lieutenant Maltby delivered the coup de grace. Gibson meanwhile accompanied Young and Maltby on their approaches to divert the anti-aircraft fire from the dam towers onto himself and to allow his gunners to provide covering fire. He then radioed back to England the prearranged code word, indicating that the dam had been breached.
Wing Commander Gibson then led the remainder of his force to the Eder Dam which, although undefended, still required supreme flying skill to execute a successful attack. Although the first two mines failed to breach the dam, the third Lancaster was successful. For his gallantry in this raid, Wing Commander Gibson received the Victoria Cross and 33 other members of the squadron were also decorated.
One of the 'Upkeep' bouncing bombs loaded onto W/Cdr Gibson’s modified Lancaster, ready for the raid
Our desire to create the most comprehensive Dambusters Tours available has led us to forge a relationship with arguably the most qualified historian and tour guide available. In 2023 we are pleased to announce that Dr. Robert Owen will be joining us throughout the tour and offering a wealth of information to enhance your experience.
Dr Owen is an aviation historian, author and the Official Historian of the No. 617 Squadron Association, and has served as a Trustee and former Chairman of the Barnes Wallis Foundation. After a career in international advertising and marketing he spent four years as a post-graduate research student with the Arms and Armour Research Institute of the University of Huddersfield. During this period he completed his doctoral research examining the determinants of policy for No. 617 Squadron 1943-45 and their relationship to the overall Bomber Offensive. He has also produced a biography of Sqn Ldr Henry Maudslay DFC, one of the pilots lost on the Dams Raid and was a lead contributor to “Dambusters – Failed to return” and a number of other works documenting the lives of some of those who flew, fought and died with Bomber Command. In over 50 years’ research Robert has met many of those who served with No. 617 Squadron, amongst them those who flew on Operation “Chastise” and subsequent operations during World War II.
He has assisted the authors of numerous authoritative books on the bomber offensive and the producers of a number of TV documentaries. He co-authored the RAF Museum publication “Breaching the German Dams” and contributed to “40 Year Winter” – recalling aspects of the Cold War. Other works include publications for the Keith Park Memorial Fund, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the RAF’s official publications commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, The 25th Anniversary of the Falklands Conflict and Sir Frank Whittle’s first jet powered flight.
After helping to research two major biographies of former No. 617 Sqn commanders Wg Cdr Guy Gibson VC and Grp Capt Leonard Cheshire VC, Robert is currently assisting with a forthcoming biography of Barnes Wallis. He is also author of articles for magazines including “Aeroplane” and “Flypast” in addition to leading a number of specialist aviation tours. His recent projects include the production of additional narratives and notes for new editions of W/Cdr Gibson’s “Enemy Coast Ahead” and Leonard Cheshire’s “Bomber Pilot” in addition to assisting in the development of the RAF Museum’s virtual reality Dambusters experience.
Saturday. We meet and check-in for the tour at the RAF Museum on Saturday morning. There will be coffee/tea and pastries available throughout the morning and you will have full access to the museum. After lunch our luxury coach will transfer you to the south coast of England, where we’ll be staying for the night. This evening we’ll have our group welcome dinner and a detailed briefing about the Dams raid from Dr. Owen.
Sunday. After breakfast, its time to catch the early Eurotunnel train to Calais and then onward to the Ruhr Valley. The journey takes about six hours and we’ll be taking regular comfort stops en-route. Our coach has an onboard toilet, and our travel hosts will supply complimentary coffee & tea to keep you topped up between stops!
Our home for the next 4-nights is the privately run and charming Hotel Rodelhaus. Set in an idyllic forest location, conveniently located for the tour excursions, with panoramic views, a modern but cozy ambience and exquisite cuisine.
The Hotel Rodelhaus
After check-in and a couple of hours to settle into your new surroundings we will transfer to the Mohne Reservoir for dinner and you first opportunity to see the famous Mohne dam. Our group dinner tonight is at a restaurant on the banks of the reservoir, overlooking the dam. Later in the evening as the sun sets, we will take time to walk across and around this imposing structure and gain an insight into the first objective of the raid, with the help of our expert tour guide.
The first and most strategically important target of the Dambusters raid, the Mohne dam