Dambusters' Anniversary

20 May 2013

Friday 17th May saw the 70th anniversary of the famous ‘Dambusters’ Raid that took place during World War Two. To help commemorate the occasion, some of the boys in the Third Form took part in some activities throughout the day.

To start the day, all the pupils in the Middle and Senior part of the school all sang the hymn that was the inspiration for the Dambuster’s March; the rousing classical score from the 1955 epic that told the tale of the bombing raid.

This film then helped set the scene for the Third Form’s history lessons in the afternoon, as short clips (with a bit of explanation from HF) brought the dilemma to life. How exactly could a heavily defended dam be destroyed from the air? After several suggestions were blown out of the water the boys were taken outside to the swimming pool, where a ‘dam’ had been constructed at the end of the ‘reservoir’ in the form of a number of large black bins.

HF then explained that the bombs would have to skim across the water at exactly the right speed and height to set them on collision course for the dam. Too slow, and the bomb would sink. Too fast, it would fly over the top of the dam. If it skimmed too low, the bomb would strike a boom and explode too early.

Some of the boys were given ‘bombs’ (actually the inside layer of broken incrediballs) and they attempted to destroy the dam. Unfortunately, they were all unable to generate enough speed to get the ball skimming down the pool. The boys then heard how important it was that the inventor of the ‘bouncing bomb’, Barnes Wallis, got his measurements and instructions exactly right, and how difficult the flying conditions were.

HF then took over the releasing of the bombs, and after a few attempts to find his range (even the real Dambusters didn’t hit with the first three attempts!) managed to strike the dam. The boys were then asked to imagine how difficult it would have been to complete the mission flying at 60ft in the air at exactly 240mph in the face of enemy guns. All agreed that it was very impressive and very brave.

Everyone then returned to the classroom to watch the climax of the raid in the film and were amazed by the impressive special effects that were on show in the 1955 film.

The boys then went home having learnt a lot, and humming the Dambusters’ March…Daaa


To read more stories from Caldicott, take a look at our News Archive and keep an eye on our Instagram,  Facebook and Twitter pages.