60 Anniversary of the Dams Raid at the Mohne Dam 2003

(And my visit to Berlin)

Images reduced quality for faster loading. Click image for high resolution

In May 2003 I travelled to Berlin as a guest of my good friend and fellow Bomber Command researcher Karsten Schulze and his family, the trip culminating on top of the Möhne Dam at midnight on 16th May where a large party assembled to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of what was probably the most famous raid of WWII. Even now, 60 years after the event, the repaired section is still clearly obvious. For this part of the trip Karsten and I were accompanied by Peter Reinhard, our navigator who spoke no English, as I spoke no German Karsten had his hands full with three way translating.

  Mohne Dam
   

Möhne Dam in 2003 with repaired section clearly visible Photo: Bob Baxter

Hopgood's Crashsite Marker at Ostonnen   Peter's directions caused many funny moments with a new phrase entering the German language! Gehen sie nach links.....Nein, Nein....Anderer Links. (Turn left....No! No! THE OTHER LEFT!!!) With a little hunting we located the crashsite at Ostönnen of Hopgoods Lancaster ED925 AJ-M which was very simply marked by a post with the crews names engraved on a brass plate. (Hopgoods mine overshot the parapet of the dam and his Lancaster was crippled by the blast)

Hopgood's Crashsite at Ostönnen

Photo: Karsten Schulze

   
                                                                               

The memorial to the Möhneseekatastrophe (Mohne Catastrophie) in the village of Günne which sits directly below the Möhne Dam. Much of the village was washed away when the dam was breached on the night of 16-17 May 1943 in the famous Dambusters Raid by Lancasters of 617 Squadron using Barnes Wallis' Upkeep Mine (Bouncing Bomb)

  Memorial at Gunne
                                                             

The Gunne Memorial

Photo: Bob Baxter

                                                                               
Midnight on the Mohne Dam 16-17/05/2003   We arrived at Günne during the day and apart from a couple of tourist coaches the area was fairly quiet. Although we had expected that there would be some visitors at midnight we were totally surprised when we returned at 23:30 to find the dam crowded almost to capacity. A commemorative poppy wreath was thrown onto the water at the exact time that the dam had been breached 60 years earlier.

Midnight on the Mohne Dam

Photo: Bob Baxter

                                                                 
Amongst the visitors to the dam that night were a group wearing wartime aircrew uniform (See Photo on right) who added certainly atmosphere to the occasion. They left immediately afterwards to be at the 617 Squadron commemoration on the 17th. If you recognise these people, please let me know as I would like to contact them. Contact   Midnight on the Mohne Dam 16-17/05/2003
                                                             

Midnight on the Mohne Dam

Photo: Karsten Schulze

                                                                               
Karsten, Peter & Bob having 'One for the Lads'  

Naturally, being a slow drinker, I was the only one of our group with any beer left when this photo was taken! (Hmmm...Maybe Not!)

Karsten, Peter & Bob - (One for the lads)

Photo: Bob Baxter

                                                                 
                                                                               
Studying some wartime maps and aerial photographs of a crash-site, a line of bomb craters could be seen where the crew of Halifax HR937 NP-P of 158 Squadron had jettisoned their bomb-load in final the moments before crashing into the forest on the night of 31/08/43-01/09/43.

Comparing detail with a modern map we found the crash-site and also the line of bomb craters. Each crater is about 1 metre deep and 3 metres across. Karsten can be seen standing in one of the craters in the photograph below.

    One of a series of bomb craters from the jettisoned load of crashing Halifax HR937
   

Jettisoned bomb crater from crashing Halifax HR937

Photo: Bob Baxter

                                                                               
Karsten stands in a bomb craster  

I was previously unaware that the first trees to grow back after the ground has been severely burnt are silver birch, and in the forest nearby were birch trees forming an arc following the descent line of the crashing bomber, narrow one end and widening out at the actual crash-site.

There is still a considerable amount of wreckage from the aircraft remaining just below ground level.

Karsten in a bomb crater

Photo: Bob Baxter

                                                               
An example of some wreckage from an unidentified Halifax deep in the forest. The large solid piece is a melted part of a Halifax engine along with some of the fuselage parts. Large chunks of the aircrafts tyres were also in the vicinity along with perspex shards from the turrets. Just below the surface are large quantities of exploded ammunition from the burning aircraft   Melted engine block & other debris
                                                                               
Crash-site showing ruts   In this photograph the deep ruts carved out by the crashing bomber are still evident.
                                                                               
                                                                               
One sight that will always remain with me is that of the "Teufelsberg" Trümmerberg (Devils Mountain) in the Northern Grunewald. There are seven Trümmerberge (Rubble Mountains) around Berlin which each stretch for several kilometers and were formed post WWII as the only means of disposing of the millions of tons of rubble from the bombed out city. It was raining lightly when we climbed to the top of the 120 metre high Teufelsberg which is now grown over and forms open parkland. In winter the Trümmerberg are used for wintersports (skiing etc.) At the time of the cold war a NATO radar station was situated at the top detecting secret information from GDR etc. Bricks and other debris were visible in areas where the rain had washed away the soil.   Teufelberg Trummer
                                                             

Berlin's 120m high Teufelsberg Trummer

Photo: Bob Baxter

                                                                               
Karsten & Bob at the 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Berlin  

Of course, no trip to Germany would be complete without visiting some of the war cemeteries to pay respect to those who gave so much

Karsten & Bob at the 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Berlin. Photo: Karsten Schulze

                                                   

Many of the photo's in this section give the impression of glorious weather, but it became a standing joke between the three of us that there were little black clouds hiding behind the bushes waiting to ambush us which they did on numerous occasions.

  Peter Bob & Karsten at Rheinberg War Cemetery.

Thanks to Karsten, Nicol, Nico, Anna, and Peter

Special thanks also to Christel & Fritz Schulze and 'Bonzo'

   

Peter Bob & Karsten at Rheinberg War Cemetery. Photo: Peter Reinhard

             

Bonzo

                                       
              Bonzo                                        

Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


free hit counter