The breach in the Mohne Dam four hours after the Dambusters raid in May 1943. (courtesy Imperial War Museum, Foreign Office Political Intelligence Department, Classified Print Collection).
It would be interesting to know who took this photograph and how soon after it was taken that the British had it. While not well known today, Polish Intelligence, which went underground after Poland’s defeat by the Nazis, provided the majority of the human intelligence which flowed to the Allies from occupied Europe in World War Two.
Wing Commander Guy Gibson, who trained and led 617 Squadron known as Dambusters was an incredibly brave man although according to temporary accounts not a very likeable man. His crew disliked him and said he didn’t even know most of them by name just position in the crew. Gibson had a stormy marriage to put it mildly and was living with another woman instead of his wife when he died in 1944.
Gibson drank more than most pilots in a time when heavy drinking by pilots when they finished operations was normal and one of the few ways they had of relaxing. He often insulted other officers in the mess who didn’t have his decorations for bravery and no one could say anything because of who he was.
For leading the Dambusters mission, Gibson was awarded Great Britain’s highest honor, the Victoria Cross, the equivalent of the US Medal of Honor.That he deserved it cannot be questioned. Not only did he lead the squadron in and drop the first bouncing bomb, he circled the dam under a constant stream of ack-ack fire while the other bombers made their runs.
Gibson already held the Distinguished Service Order and Bar (which meant he was given the medal twice). The DSO was awarded for brave and meritorious service in combat. In addition, he also had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and bar, which was only given for bravery in operational flying against the enemy.
Dramatized on film and in print, the Dambusters raid has become one of the most well known small operations of World War Two in Europe. The raid was conceived of