Attacking the Sorpe
- Operation Chastise: 16/17 May 1943 -
by Anthony Saunders
Following the success of Guy Gibson and his men in breaching the Möhne and Eder Dams, Joe McCarthy and his crew in Lancaster AJ-T ‘Tommy’ arrived at the Sorpe Dam – the only crew of the Second Wave to make it.
As McCarthy took them over the undefended earth dam it was obvious that the topography, as at
the Eder, would require enormous skill from both the pilot and bomb-aimer if their Upkeep was
to be dropped as planned. Wallis and the planners had decided that being an earth dam, unlike
the Möhne and Eder, the bomb at the Sorpe should be dropped un-spun from a position flying
along and adjacent to the dam rather than from head on.
Coming in over the village, banking sharply around the steeple and diving swiftly towards the dam, Joe McCarthy had precious little time to align T-Tommy before climbing away sharply to avoid crashing into the hills on the far side. It took nine aborted attempts before, on their tenth run, George Johnson was satisfied enough to release the mine. It was 00.46 hrs when his ‘Bomb Gone!’ was met with a “Thank Christ for that!” from the rear turret; Dave Rodger had just experienced the most uncomfortable roller-coaster ride of his life.
They had scored a direct hit but, once the tower of water had subsided, the dam was damaged along part of its crest but hadn’t been breached. Disappointed not to have caused more damage but proud to have scored a bull’s-eye, McCarthy and the crew of T-Tommy turned for home.
|Overall size: 20¼" x 27½"||Available in the following editions||Image size: 15½" x 24"|
|25||Collectors edition||Signed by Squadron Leader George 'Johnny' Johnson. - Sold out|
|5||Collectors edition A/P||As above - Sold out|
|10||Double Remarque||As above - Sold out|
An artist's original drawing added to a print is always a very desireable piece. Just a few of these are available, and we may be able to supply a specific subject for the drawing, just let us know your preference.
|Squadron Leader George 'Johnny' Johnson MBE, DFM - Bomb aimer on Lancaster AJ-T
“Attacking the Sorpe” is a composition that Bomb Aimer George ‘Johnny’ Johnson directly helped Anthony create and later described as the most authentic representation he’d ever seen.
It was Johnny’s personal request for the edition to be published posthumously to commemorate the actions that night and also to benefit 617 Squadron with whom he served.
“… Signing these prints has brought back many memories, not only of the sacrifice paid by some but also of the great gallantry displayed by all involved – not least my own pilot Joe McCarthy. I was the bomb-aimer on his Lancaster AJ-T and we attacked the Sorpe Dam, the scene portrayed
Now, as the last survivor of the raid, it is my hope that this print edition be released posthumously…”
|The crew of Lancaster AJ-T ('Johnny' Johnson at far left) Scampton - July 1943|
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