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July 15, August 3 1966
A force of 8,500 Marines and 2,500 South Vietnamese troops launch Operation Hasting. The operation's goal is to thwart the North Vietnamese 324 B Division's efforts to take control of Quang Tri Province.
The North Vietnamese were ignoring the Demilitarized Zone and the US decided to try to push then back into the DMZ from South Vietnamese soil. On July 15th US planes bombed the areas that were slated to become helicopter landing zone. After an hour of bombing Marine helicopters began landing troops. Two helicopters collided during this period. Over a period of three weeks the Marines and South Vietnamese troops swept the area. At times they met North Vietnamese troops who fought back, but were generally overwhelmed by the US firepower. The operation was considered a success as the NVA soldiers were forced back across the DMZ.
50 Years of Hastings
Fifty years ago, a legacy began. Rooted in the notion of hard work and family it has since branched out with the aim to improve the health and lives of manufacturers through clean, breathable air.
In 1969, Walter Bohrer, Jr., president of Eagle Enterprises, purchased Hastings Distributing Company, which owned several routes providing and servicing jukeboxes and pool tables. Mr. Bohrer brought with him new sales potential in the form of Frigidaire Ice Makers and other distributorships. Hastings had become one of the largest operators in the greater Milwaukee area.
Never one to shy away from opportunity, Mr. Bohrer noticed a need for clean air in the establishments they already serviced. Hastings Air Energy Control was born. Hastings Distributing Company now had two divisions–coin operation and Air Energy Control. It wasn’t until 1997, when the family business was sold to the five brothers–David, Michael, Daniel, Dennis, and DuWayne–that the coin-op division would be sold. The sale allowed Hastings to focus all attention on commercial and industrial air cleaning solutions.
Today, Hastings Air Energy Control is a division of the Air Quality Group (AQG), which includes IVEC Systems, FumeVac, and Applied Air Systems. We are continually striving to provide the most effective and innovative air cleaning solutions that fit your needs.
Even though technology has changed, the core values of Hastings have not.
Battle [ edit | edit source ]
D-Day in Helicopter Valley [ edit | edit source ]
On the morning of 15 July, A-4 Skyhawks from MAG-12 and F-4B Phantoms from MAG-11 began bombing and napalming the two landing zones, LZ Crow, 8 km northeast of the Rockpile and LZ Dove at the mouth of the Valley, 5 km northeast of Crow. At 07:25 3/12 artillery took over the bombardment of LZ Crow and at 07:45 20 CH-46s of HMM-164 and HMM-265 began landing 3/4 Marines on LZ Crow. While the Marines met no initial resistance, LZ Crow proved to be too small for the operation, two CH-46s collided and crashed while a third CH-46 hit a tree while trying to avoid the other two. As a result of these collisions, two Marines were killed and seven injured. All three CH-46s were too badly damaged to be recovered and would have to be destroyed. Γ] Later that day another CH-46 carrying men from 2/1 Marines was hit by NVA fire and crashed killing 13 Marines. Marines promptly renamed the Song Ngan as "Helicopter Valley". Δ]
Companies K and L began establishing blocking positions around LZ Crow while Company I stayed in reserve. Company K took fire and soon located a 200-bed hospital and some 1200 pounds of ammunition. Company K continued on to their objective of 1.8 kilometres (1.1 mi) south of LZ Crow, but they were repulsed by NVA fire as they tried to cross the Ngan River with the loss of three Marines killed and five wounded. Company K decided to set up night positions on a hill 180 metres (200 yd) from the river. The NVA were now aware of the arrival of 3/4 Marines and the Battalion started to come under sustained small arms, machine gun and mortar fire. By 19:30, the Battalion CO Lt Col Vale reported that his Battalion was surrounded but 30 minutes later under artillery and tactical air fire the NVA withdrew. At 20:15 a reinforced NVA Company attacked Company K's position and only withdrew after 3 hours of fighting, the following morning 25 NVA bodies were found in front of the position. Ε]
At 09:35 HMM-164 and HMM-265's CH-46s began lifting three Companies of 2/4 Marines into LZ Dove. Once landed, 2/4 Marines began moving west towards 3/4 Marines but their progress was hindered by high elephant grass and oppressive heat and humidity. 2/4 Marines were unable to move to assist 3/4 Marines and set up night positions with orders to abandon the move towards Hill 208 and proceed directly to join 3/4 Marines in the morning. Ζ]
16 July [ edit | edit source ]
The NVA launched mortars into 3/4 Marines CP in the morning and the Marines responded with airstrikes and artillery. Company K was still unable to cross the Song Ngan, but the other two Companies were able to patrol unmolested to the north and northwest. 2/4 Marines set off at dawn towards 3/4's position and engaged the NVA several times calling in close air strikes before linking up with 3/4 at 14:45. At 19:30 the NVA again attacked Company K's position making three attacks over three and a half hours, the Marines suffered 1 dead, 5 seriously wounded and over 40 wounded from grenades thrown at short range. The NVA dragged away some of their dead but the Marines counted 79 bodies the following morning. Η]
General English decided to deploy 2/1 Marines and they were lifted into LZ Robin 3 km northeast of LZ Crow by 30 helicopters of HMM-161, HMM-163, HMM-164 and HMM-265. At 16:00 a platoon of Marines from the 1st Force Reconnaissance Company rapelled from a MAG-16 helicopter onto the summit of the Rockpile, three hours later they spotted an NVA force to their east and called in artillery fire from 3/12 Marines killing 21 NVA and later that night called in further fire on suspected NVA positions south of the Rockpile. ⎖]
17–18 July [ edit | edit source ]
Based on the sightings from the Rockpile, 2/1 Marines were redeployed from LZ Robin to the river valley near the Rockpile by helicopters of MAG-16 on the morning of 17 July. In Helicopter Valley there was little contact with the NVA, but 3/4 Marines gave up trying to push south and anticipating further night attacks they established a common perimeter with 2/4 Marines. General English ordered the two Battalions to withdraw to the northeast the following day, 2/4 was to establish blocking positions below the DMZ while 3/4 would move to the south of 2/4 and then attack south and take Hill 208. ⎗] With the conclusion of Operation Deckhouse II on the morning of 18 July 3/5 Marines would be inserted into a small valley 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) south of the Song Ngan in a suspected NVA marshalling area, this area also provided a possible escape route for NVA retreating from 3/4's advance on Hill 208. ⎘]
At LZ Crow on the morning of 18 July 2/4 Marines swept north towards their new positions which they reached without incident by mid-afternoon. At 14:00 3 ⁄4 Marines began to move out leaving Company K as a rearguard to provide security for the Battalion CP and the engineers who were tasked with destroying captured ammunition and the three crashed CH-46s. At 14:30 the NVA began mortaring the position and then attacked with infantry. ⎘] As the Marines had filled in their fighting holes they quickly had to dig them out again as an estimated 1000 NVA attacked. Company K's 1st Platoon bore the brunt of the assault and its squads were separated from each other as small groups of NVA moved between them. Airstrikes were called in as close as 45m from the Marines and Lt Col Vale called for Company L to return to the LZ and for 2/4 Marines to provide support. By 17:00 Company L had arrived at the LZ and a Company from 2/4 Marines occupied high ground overlooking the LZ and 1st Platoon of Company K was able to withdraw but had to leave their dead behind. By 17:00 2/4 and 3/4 had established a common perimeter 1.7 kilometres (1.1 mi) northeast of LZ Crow. 3/4 Marines had suffered 14 dead and 49 wounded while the NVA had suffered 138 known dead with estimates as high as 500. CaptainRobert Modrzejewski, CO of Company K and Sergeant John McGinty commander of the 1st Platoon would each be awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions. ⎙]
3/5 Marines were lifted into their position on the afternoon of 18 July. Only Company M encountered any serious resistance and after calling in airstrikes they overran the NVA positions killing 21. ⎙]
19–25 July [ edit | edit source ]
On 19 July Company K was pulled out for rest and the remainder of 3/4 Marines were assigned blocking positions while 2/4 Marines reorganised for the assault on Hill 208. On the morning of 20 July following intense airstrikes, 2/4 assaulted up Hill 208, but found the heavily fortified position abandoned. ⎙] 3/4 Marines was pulled out and replaced by 1/3 Marines on 21 July. ⎚]
On 20 July 1/1 Marines joined 3/5 Marines in the valley below the Song Ngan and they met light but persistent resistance from small groups of NVA as they patrolled to the west. General English also ordered 2/1 Marines to deploy and establish blocking positions at the western end of the valley 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) north of the Rockpile. ⎛] On the night of 21 July 2/1 Marines came under fire across their entire front and responded with small arms, mortar and artillery fire to break up the attack. The Marines suffered two dead, while the number of NVA casualties was unknown. ⎜]
On 21 July Company H, 2/4 Marines returned to LZ Crow to recover the Marine dead left behind on 18 July. The bodies of all eight Marines were found unmolested and still with all their weapons and equipment. On 22 July the other companies of 2/4 joined Company H and began patrolling through Helicopter Valley. ⎙] During these two days of the operation, which also included search and destroy missions, on 21 July elements of one platoon of Company H were fired upon and the point man hit and killed by machine gun fire. At that point LCPL Richard David Kaler immediately moved forward through the heavy fire and carried the fallen Marine back. On 22 July Kaler's platoon re-engaged the position and took heavy casualties and was pinned down by machine gun fire. LCPL Kaler then advanced and exposed himself to intense fire and charged the enemy positions. In this attack, and after being wounded in the thigh, LPCL Kaler silenced one enemy position before being mortally wounded. He was credited by his actions with saving many of his fellow Marines and was awarded the Navy Cross. ⎝]
On 24 July Company I, 3/5 Marines was setting up a radio relay station on Hill 362 approximately 7.5 kilometres (4.7 mi) north of the Rockpile. As the 2nd Platoon moved to establish forward defences on the hillside the NVA opened fire from concealed positions. LCPL Richard A. Pittman of the 1st Platoon ran forward with a machine gun to cover the retreat of the 2nd Platoon and he and the survivors retreated to the crest of the hill, but the dead and wounded were left behind. One of the survivors hid among the dead as the NVA moved forward finishing off any surviving Marines. The NVA then dropped accurate mortar fire on the crest of Hill 362 for the next two hours until a Marine UH-1E Gunship from VMO-2 silenced them. Company K moved to support Company I, but was stopped by heavy fire despite air and artillery support. Company I was also battered by heavy rains from Typhoon Ora and this and the thick jungle canopy complicated the evacuation of wounded. Eventually engineers were lowered in to cut out an LZ, but only 11 wounded were able to be evacuated. The NVA made repeated assaults on Company I closing to within 5m at times, the Marines could hear the NVA talking and breathing nearby. By dawn the NVA had pulled out, Company I had suffered 18 dead and 82 wounded, 21 NVA bodies were found and two prisoners taken. Prisoner interrogation revealed that the Marines had been attacked by the 6th Battalion of the NVA 812th Regiment. LCPL Pittman was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on Hill 362. ⎜]
On 25 July Generals Kyle and English met at Dong Ha and decided to withdraw Task Force Delta to the south due to the difficult terrain for manoevure and the lack of LZs for helicopter assaults. ⎚]
26 July – 3 August [ edit | edit source ]
On 26 July 1/1 Marines moved south to Cam Lộ. 3/5 Marines continued to sweep to the west and operate north of the Rockpile. On 27 July 2/1 Marines moved east towards the Rockpile. ⎚] In Helicopter Valley, 2/4 Marines was replaced by 2/9 Marines on 26 July and on 27 July 1/3 and 2/9 and marched south out of the valley. Despite the withdrawal of the Battalions, Marine recon patrols continued to operate in the Hastings operations area and on 28 July a recon patrol spotted 150–250 NVA 5 km southwest of the Rockpile and called in artillery strikes killing at least 50 NVA. Following a report of this mission General Walt christened such recon patrols as "Stingray Patrols." While Operation Hastings officially ended on 3 August, the action on 28 July was the last major action of the Operation and it appeared that the 324B Division had either crossed back over the DMZ or dispersed into jungle to the west. General Walt described the NVA troops encountered during Operation Hastings as follows: "We found them well-equipped, well-trained and aggressive to the point of fanaticism. They attacked in massed formations and died by the hundreds". ⎞]
Operation Pedestal by Max Hastings, review — a dramatic Second World War naval history
A mong the deluge of books published each year about the Second World War, accounts of naval convoys are few and far between. With the exception of the disastrous PQ17 convoy, whose grim fate in the Arctic Ocean has been often retold, these essential supply lines are generally deemed too unglamorous to explore. The very word “convoy” conjures an image of lumbering merchant ships ferrying food and supplies. It’s hardly the stuff to set the pulse racing.
The veteran historian Max Hastings wants to redress this misconception with his latest book, Operation Pedestal. Admittedly Pedestal was no ordinary convoy: it was a desperately needed lifeline to the beleaguered island of Malta, whose 300,000 starving inhabitants were close to surrender in the summer of 1942.
Hastings History Bus Tour
Travelers on Highway 6 east of Hastings often ask about the bunkers and buildings that line the road for miles. They are often surprised to learn it is the remains of a World War II Naval Ammunition Depot. Join Teresa Kreutzer-Hodson (Hastings Museum) as she shares the story of the Hastings Naval Ammunition Depot and the lasting impact on the region. You will hear about the construction and operation of the facility in the 1940s learn about farmers who lost their land discover how businesses coped with demand and worker shortages and understand the social changes that occurred as the region adapted to a large influx of people.
Teresa Kreutzer-Hodson, is the curator of collections at the Hastings Museum. Through her work at the Museum, she seeks to develop a greater understanding of the social impact the NAD had on the region while gathering artifacts that represent and interpret that story. Her passion is sharing these stories with others so they can appreciate the history that has shaped the region into what it is today.
Operation Hastings was an American military operation in the Vietnam War.
Having been threatened by numerous encounters with enemy troops in the Cam Lo area, on July 7, 1966, United States Marine Corps General Lew Walt led a joint U.S. Marine and ARVN force of 8,500 and 3,000 troops in a strike through the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Plans to maintain U.S. occupation of the Cam Lo area in the Quang Tri province soon became known as Operation Hastings.
Under the command of Brigadier General Lowell E. English, the operation continued on July 15. His responsibility was to secure landing sites so that more U.S. Marines and ARVN soldiers could occupy the rear of the province. However, the major goal of the operation was to thwart the North Vietnamese 324 B Division's efforts to take control of Quang Tri Province. The mission was a strategic success in terms of driving off the 324 B Division, but the People's Army of Vietnam (NVA) forces successfully withdrew across the DMZ. When the ease with which the NVA was able to move across the DMZ became apparent, the US military leadership ordered a steady build-up of U.S. Marines near the DMZ from 1966 to 1968.
The major clash between the allies and the invading North Vietnamese occurred in July 1966. For several weeks before this time Marine reconnaissance teams had been sighting groups of North Vietnamese near the village of Cam Lo in the east central part of Quang Tri Province. By early July reconnaissance teams in the Cam Lo area were almost invariably finding themselves in contact with large enemy units. Interrogation of prisoners and analyses of captured enemy documents confirmed that no fewer than 5,000 regulars of the 324B Division of the North Vietnamese Army were in South Vietnam, preparing to overrun Quang Tri Province.
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U.S. military operation in Quảng Trị Province, South Vietnam that sought to eliminate People's Army of Vietnam forces south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Over the course of late 1965 and early 1966 the Viet Cong (VC) and the PAVN intensified their military threat along the DMZ. Wikipedia
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Sir Max Hastings: “While the Dambuster raid’s strategic impact was almost nil, its propaganda value was immense”
On the night of 16–17 May 1943 a squadron of RAF bombers, led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, attacked a number of dams in the Ruhr industrial heartland of Germany. Operation Chastise used ‘bouncing bombs’ conceived by the British engineer Barnes Wallis to evade the dams’ defences. Two of those dams – the Möhne and the Eder – were breached, although the Sorpe crucially evaded serious damage. Of the 133 men who set off that night, 53 died and another three were taken prisoner. Meanwhile around 1,300 people were killed by the flood waters. The story of the Dambusters was immortalised in a 1955 film.
Sir Max Hastings is a journalist and historian who served as editor-in-chief of the Daily Telegraph, then editor of the Evening Standard. He has written many bestselling works of military history, among them Vietnam: An Epic History of a Tragic War and All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939–1945
Rob Attar: Where did the idea to attack dams originate?
Sir Max Hastings: The RAF figured out back in 1937–38 that if it was possible to destroy the Ruhr industry’s water supplies, it would strike a devastating blow at the heart of Nazi industry. So they knew they wanted to do it but they didn’t know how.
Then a very bright man called Arthur Collins discovered that if you placed it right up against the dam wall, a much smaller charge could break the dam than if you exploded it even 10 or 20 feet away. He thought that about 6,000 or 7,000 pounds of explosive might do the business, and the Avro Lancaster, the new heavy bomber, might be able to carry that. But how did you deliver that charge right up against the dam wall?
Here, Collins’s research married with that of Barnes Wallis, who believed that they could get a big depth charge – which was what it really was, rather than a bomb – and bounce it across the water, over the torpedo nets guarding the dams. And it might then be possible to get a big enough charge to the dam to explode it.
How much of a challenge was it going to be to deliver a ‘bomb’ in that fashion?
I only use the word ‘hero’ very sparingly but I think it’s right to use it of these young aircrew who were recruited to the newly formed 617 Squadron. They were asked to do something very difficult: to drop one of these bouncing bombs from a height of 60 feet – less than the length of a cricket pitch – not in a nimble fighter but in a heavy bomber, while steering straight and level towards the dams and, in the case of the Möhne, with anti-aircraft guns shooting at them. It was a monstrously unfair thing to ask of these guys. Heavy bombers are like people carriers, not Lamborghinis they’re great, galumphing load carriers.
What did the raid’s planners hope to achieve?
Both Barnes Wallis and Charles Portal, the head of the RAF, convinced themselves that if they could break the Möhne, this would strike a huge blow against German industry. But actually, the experts at the Ministry of Economic Warfare warned them early in 1942 that the key to the Ruhr water supplies were two dams: the Möhne and the Sorpe. The Sorpe was a great earthen dam and they knew you couldn’t bounce a bomb towards it because it had a sloping face. And also it was such an enormous construction that even Wallis, at his most optimistic, thought that it would take four or five of his bombs to do the business.
They had to face the fact that the most they were going to be able to achieve was to make a hell of a mess in north-west Germany and cause the Germans a lot of embarrassment and inconvenience. But by then the squadron was trained and a huge industrial effort and technological effort had been put into creating these bombs. And they knew that even breaching the Möhne was going to be spectacular.
The key thing is that in 1943 the British people were pretty tired and our reputation in the eyes of the Americans stood pretty low. Everybody could see that the tide of the war was turning, but they could also see that the Russians were doing most of the heavy lifting. Churchill understood the need for what I call military theatre. Even if you couldn’t do big things like launch D-Day, you could at least do things that had a spectacular effect.
Everybody told each other a lot of fibs before the raid but I think if I’d been sitting where Charles Portal was sitting in 1943, desperate for some spectacular successes, then I would have thought that it was a fair gamble. In fact Portal said, in one of his papers before the dams’ raid: “This looks like a good gamble.” And I think it was. But we should never underrate what these kids were being asked to do.
How did the raid itself go?
It was fantastically dangerous. The only way the crews had a hope of seeing enough to be able to attack the dams was to fly in moonlight, in which Bomber Command never normally operated because the Germans could see you so easily. And they made the calculation that the only way they had a chance of getting there was to fly all the way at deck level. But flying at 60 or 100 feet, you face a big risk of hitting power cables. Meanwhile, the anti-aircraft gunners can hear you coming even before they see you and they’re firing at practically point-blank range. So it is not surprising that three of the 19 aircraft that took off were destroyed by power cables or by a searchlight, while more were shot down by flak.
What is miraculous is that enough got through to be able to break the Möhne and the Eder: it was an extraordinary feat. But it cost eight aircraft lost out of 19, and a couple more that turned back at the beginning. That was nearly a 50 per cent loss rate and everybody knew you couldn’t run an operation like that very often. It’s interesting that, after the raid, when they were recruiting to bring 617 Squadron back up to strength, they had a lot of trouble finding volunteers. Everybody knew that the casualties had been frightful and they thought that, if there are going to be any more operations like this, then this is not a place you want to be.
Because they failed to break the Sorpe, not much is normally made of that part of the raid. But those pilots and their crews, they flew over the Sorpe again and again to figure out how to make an approach that gave them a chance of dropping the bomb. If the Germans had been awake, which amazingly they weren’t, they could have vectored night fighters there. Incredibly they didn’t do it, but the crews had no way of knowing that.
Joe McCarthy, the one American on the trip, only dropped his bomb on the 10th or 11th run. It’s not surprising that one or two in the crew were saying in the intercom: “Can we just get this f-ing bomb out of here?” And what one always has to remember about what makes bomber war unusual is that, unlike being a soldier, you don’t have personal choice as to whether to be brave in battle. If your captain decides to be brave, you’ve got to go with him all the way.
I can’t help suspecting that there must have been more than one member of Guy Gibson’s crew – who astoundingly flew round the Möhne about four or five times – who were thinking: “Well, it’s alright for him if he wants to win a VC but what about us poor bastards?”
What was the impact of the attacks on the people living close to the dams?
When I grew up, one of the things that seemed wonderful about the raid is that it was victimless, apart from the 53 air crew lost. But, of course, somewhere between 1,200 and 1,400 people were drowned – more than half of them slave labourers and prisoners of war. You suddenly had hundreds of millions of tonnes of water being unleashed, pouring down the valley, creating what I call a biblical catastrophe. I’ve devoted a whole chapter to the stories of what happened when this wave of water, 40ft high, came smashing through. You had whole houses being borne down the flood.
If you want to take the ruthless view, you can say this was a price the German people had to pay for Adolf Hitler. They had supported Hitler they were fighting for Hitler until 1945 and this is the sort of stuff that happens. And plenty of British civilians had been killed: men, women and children.
But it was still a terrifying story and we have to see that side of it. It’s not enough to say: “Whoops, didn’t we do brilliantly well, wasn’t it wonderful, gee whiz.” We have to also say that this inflicted a terrible human disaster, even if this doesn’t negate the courage of the people who took part.
In his memoir, Enemy Coast Ahead, Guy Gibson himself wrote about how uncomfortable he had been when one or two of his crew, on the way home from the raid, were making pretty callous remarks about all those people being drowned. And he wrote: “No one likes mass slaughter and we did not like being the authors of it. Besides, it brought us in line with Himmler and his boys.”
I suspect that one or two of Guy Gibson’s crew were thinking: ‘It’s alright for him if he wants to win a VC but what about us poor bastards?’
How did the raid affect the German war machine?
It had a tremendous shock effect. When Albert Speer, Hitler’s armaments chief, flew over the area at first light he was horrified and thought this was going to be a complete disaster. But he was amazed at how quickly production was restored. The raid made an incredible mess, killed all these wretched people, and was a terrific psychological blow, but its impact on German industry was very limited.
I would still say it was worth it because it gave a huge boost to the morale of the British people and raised the standing of the British in the eyes of the Americans. So while its strategic impact was almost nil, in the grand scheme of things, its propaganda impact was immense.
There was one huge mistake made by Arthur Harris [head of Bomber Command], partly because he had thought the whole thing was ridiculous anyway. Through the summer of 1943, there was a vast edifice of wooden scaffolding up in front of the dams, and Speer was dreading a conventional RAF bombing raid, which only had to be reasonably accurate and this great cat’s cradle would come tumbling down. But the RAF made no attempt to break it down. Speer made plain, if they’d wrecked the repair work then it could have led to serious trouble. As it was, the Möhne and the Eder were both operational by September, when the autumn rains came, and that winter they were doing the business again for German industry.
Back in 1979, I interviewed Barnes Wallis and he said the big mistake was not to have launched a follow-up raid. When I interviewed Sir Arthur Harris, I put this point to him and he said: “Any operation deserving of the Victoria Cross is, by its nature, unfit to be repeated.” Now, he was right that, as the Germans had put up all these balloon cables and flak guns and searchlights, you couldn’t ever do another low-level bouncing bomb raid. But you could have done a conventional raid, and that was a huge error.
How much is our modern view of the raid shaped by the film?
We all think we know the Dambusters story, but most of that is wrong because it’s so much influenced by the movie. And it’s a great movie: it’s the most popular British war movie of all time, and deservedly so. But the portrayal of most of the characters was a lot different from what they were actually like, and the story wasn’t of Barnes Wallis fighting a lone battle against an unthinking bureaucracy. What was really remarkable was that, in the middle of a war of national survival, when resources were very scarce, Britain’s warlords supported this amazing venture.
Listen to Rob Attar’s interview with Sir Max Hastings the History Extra podcast soon.
History of Hastings Old Town
Until 1800 Hastings was confined to the Bourne Valley between the large unspoilt open areas of the East and West Hills. Originally this town (the Old Town) had just two main streets, High Street and All Saints' Street, which were divided by the Bourne Stream.
In the late 1300s, a defensive wall was erected across the southern part of the town with three gates at High Street, All Saints' Street and the Bourne. Remnants of the wall can still be seen today. As well as protecting the town from enemies, the wall served to resist the sea which once battered against it during southerly gales.
In the 14th century, during the Hundred Years' War, the Old Town was twice attacked by the French and in the second of these raids in 1377 much of the town was destroyed.
George Street, originally known as 'the Suburbs', was the first street to be built outside the town wall as it began its westward spread during the 18th century. Many of the buildings retain the original Georgian windows on their upper floors.
During the Georgian period, Hastings was a strategically important site as the country faced the threat of a French invasion led by Napoleon Bonaparte. The town had a garrison of 12,000 soldiers who were commanded by the Duke of Wellington from his headquarters in High Street.
In Victorian times part of the Bourne Stream was covered and named Bourne Walk and in the 1960s the Old Town was split completely in two by the modern road. It seems hard to believe that until then the main thoroughfare of the Old Town had been the narrow High Street. There were only two places along the street where large vehicles such as the electric trolley buses, which served the town until 1959, could pass.
With its ancient churches and buildings, unique fishing quarter, narrow streets (or 'twittens') and a profusion of atmospheric pubs, eating places, tea rooms, museums and antique shops, there's something truly untouched and timeless about the Old Town.