Last of the Dam Buster Pilots Dies


Hattip to Don the Kiwi.  The march of time can be as sad as it is inevitable, and so it is in this case.  The last pilot of 617th Squadron that flew the Dam Buster raid on May 16-17, 1943, Kiwi John Leslie Munro, has died at age 96 in Auckland, New Zealand on August 4, 2015.  The raid was a spectacular attack on three mammoth dams in the Ruhr.  Codenamed Operation Chastise, it involved over a month of training for the low altitude attacks on the dams and the development of bombs that would bounce on the water upon release and careen into the dams.  The execution of the raids in the teeth of enemy fire required immense skill and courage.  The attacks breached two of the dams and damaged the third, causing immense damage in the Ruhr, the industrial heartland of the Third Reich.  Of the 19 Lancaster bombers participating in the raid, eight were lost.

In a time when the World desperately needed courage and the willingness to stand against evil, Munro and his colleagues were in the forefront of the fight.


Published in: on August 18, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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  1. Unlike HIroshima and Nagasaki, this is a part of the western Allied war effort for which I have no sympathy whatsoever. The bombing of civilian targets was a war crime, and this one was twice as bad, since breaking a dam means mass murdering all the communities downstream. And worse than a crime, it was stupid. The Soviets, who certainly were no humanitarians, never bothered with “strategic” bombing. Why? Because they had better things to do with their fliers – support their fighters on the ground and help with ripping the Wehrmacht to pieces. “Strategic” bombing achieved nothing – German industrial production kept growing by leaps and bounds until the actual mines and oilfields were occupied by Allied troops – and wasted enormous amounts of expensively trained men and expensive flying machines. Such a combination of crime and folly usually tends to result in defeat; it was just the Allies’ good luck that the Germans were even stupider, infinitely more criminal, and had fewer resources. But it does not justify it. Accoring to Richard Overy, a whole series of opinion polls carried out in Britain during the war itself showed that almost half the British population regarded “strategic” bombing as wrong; in spite of, or perhaps because of, the fact that Hitler had thoroughly schooled them in what it meant.

    • We will have to agree to disagree Fabio. I think the destruction of German industry was an important factor in bringing down the Third Reich. The Soviets were able to obtain local air superiority only because the Germans had to strip the Eastern Front of fighter units for duty in Germany to fight the Allied bombers. The Soviets had no heavy strategic bombers worthy of the name until they copied a b-29 forced down in Russia in August 1944 bolt for bolt, and that is why they did not attempt strategic bombing during World War II.

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