by Robert Taylor
Overall Print Size: 33½" x 18¾"
Edition Size: 300
This powerful new Master Drawing is a magnificent portrayal of ‘Mick’ Martin’s successful attack on the Möhne Dam and is issued to commemorate the men of 617 Squadron who took part in Operation Chastise. These increasingly rare signatures are becoming progressively more difficult to find, and this new addition to Robert’s Graphite Collection may prove to be one of the few remaining occasions when so many veterans are gathered together on a single print release.
On the night of 16/17 May 1943 nineteen specially modified Lancasters of 617 Squadron departed from RAF Scampton on one of the most secret and daring bombing operations undertaken during World War II. The ultra-secret operation to destroy the huge hydro-electric dams that powered a significant part of Germany’s industrial war machine in the Ruhr valley, codenamed Operation Chastise, had been planned in stealth for months. Using a revolutionary 10-ton ‘bouncing bomb’ designed by the brilliant designer Barnes Wallis, a special squadron composed of the most talented crews that RAF Bomber Command could muster would be formed to attack primarily the Möhne, Eder, and Sorpe Dams. Flying highly modified Lancaster bombers to carry the secret bomb, Operation Chastise was to become one of the most dangerous precision bombing raids ever undertaken.
At 0038 hrs the attack on the Möhne Dam is already well underway. The commander of 617 Squadron and leader of the raid, Wing Commander Guy Gibson, had made the first successful attack, but the dam wall held firm. And then tragedy struck as Flight Lieutenant Hopgood’s Lancaster, hit by flak during his attack, exploded in a ball of flame. Gibson called in Flight Lieutenant ‘Mick’ Martin to make the third assault and Robert Taylor captures this moment with graphic precision in "BOMB AWAY!" As enemy flak and tracer illuminate the night sky, Guy Gibson boldly attempts to draw the enemy’s fire as Martin holds Lancaster AJ-P steady at 60ft above the waters of the Möhne Dam to release the cylindrical, bouncing bomb and send it spinning towards the dam wall. In a few moments a huge explosion will erupt up in to the night sky as the hydrostatic bomb detonates against the mighty granite wall. Once again, though, the Möhne dam held, but not for long. Following Martin, Squadron Leader ‘Dinghy’ Young would approach in Lancaster AJ-A, his bomb also successfully hitting the target. But this time the dam, already weakened, will slowly crack. Water will start to seep through the granite wall as Squadron Leader David Maltby in Lancaster AJ-J finishes the job. With a thunderous roar the Möhne dam was breached, its waters unleashed like a giant tidal wave sweeping through the valley below.
In addition to the artist, this print was individually signed in pencil by SIX distinguished veterans who were part of Operation Chastise on the night of 16/17 May 1943:
- Sergeant RAY GRAYSTON RAF (Flight Engineer on Lancaster AJ-N (N-Nan) flown by Les Knight, which attacked and successfully breached the Eder Dam)
- Squadron Leader GEORGE JOHNSON DFM RAF (Bomb Aimer on American Joe McCarthy’s Lancaster AJ-T (T-Tommy), which attacked and hit the Sorpe Dam)
- Corporal KEN LUCAS RAF (one of 617 Squadron’s most experienced ground crew)
- Flight Sergeant GRANT McDONALD RCAF (Canadian rear gunner on Ken Brown’s Lancaster AJ-F (F-Freddie), which attacked and hit the Sorpe Dam)
- Squadron Leader LES MUNRO DSO DFC RNZAF (New Zealander, Captain and pilot of Lancaster AJ-W (W-Willie) assigned to attack the Sorpe Darn, but was forced to turn back en-route to the target after heavy flak-damage over Holland)
- Sergeant FRED SUTHERLAND RCAF (Canadian Front Gunner on Les Knight’s Lancaster AJ-N (N-Nan) which attacked and successfully breached the Eder Dam)
Comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.