Operation Chastise

The RAF's Most Brilliant Attack of World War II
Narrated by: Max Hastings, Peter Noble
Length: 11 hrs and 49 mins
Categories: History, European
4.5 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

One of the most lauded historians of our time returns to the Second World War in this magnificent retelling of the awe-inspiring raid on German dams conducted by the Royal Army Force’s 617 Squadron.

The attack on Nazi Germany’s dams on May 17, 1943, was one of the most remarkable feats in military history. The absurdly young men of the Royal Air Force’s 617 Squadron set forth in cold blood and darkness, without benefit of electronic aids, to fly lumbering heavy bombers straight and level towards a target at a height above the water less than the length of a bowling alley. Yet this story - and the later wartime experience of the 617 Squadron - has never been told in full. 

Max Hastings takes us back to the May 1943 raid to reveal how the truth of that night is considerably different from the popularized account most people know. The RAF had identified the Ruhr dams as strategic objectives as far back as 1938; in those five years Wing Commander Guy Gibson formed and trained the 617 Squadron. Hastings observes that while the dropping of Wallis’s mines provided the dramatic climax, only two of the eight aircraft lost came down over the dams - the rest were shot down on the flight to, or back from, the mission. And while the 617 Squadron’s valor is indisputable, the ultimate industrial damage caused by the dam raid was actually rather modest. 

In 1943, these brave men caught the imagination of the world and uplifted the weary spirits of the British people. Their achievement unnerved the Nazi high command, and caused them to expend large resources on dam defenses - making the mission a success. An example of Churchill’s "military theatre" at its best, what 617 Squadron did was an extraordinary and heroic achievement, and a triumph of British ingenuity and technology - a story to be told for generations to come.

©2020 Max Hastings (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers

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Beautifully written and read.

A beautifully written, anti-triumphalist description of this brilliant feat of arms and the doomed characters who both accomplished it and suffered the consequences. Exciting and soul searching. Listeners will mourn the pilots and their till now unconsidered victims equally.
A remarkable accomplishment, to produce both a breathtaking adventure and heartbreaking tragedy.

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