The Dam Busters (book)

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First edition (publ. Evans Brothers)

The Dam Busters is a non-fiction book by Paul Brickhill about Royal Air Force Squadron 617, originally commanded by Wing Commander Guy Gibson V.C. during World War II. The squadron became known as the "Dam Busters" because of Operation Chastise, a mission using highly specialised bombs to destroy Ruhr dams in Germany.

The book also covers the subsequent history of 617 Squadron, as an elite squadron specializing in attacking difficult targets with outsize weapons and precision techniques. Among Gibson's successors as commander was Group Captain Leonard Cheshire V.C., and the book describes Cheshire's unorthodox leadership style and innovative target marking techniques.

The original 1951 edition of the book did not include some of the details of the dam-raids, as these were still classified at the time, most significantly that the weapons bounced on the water surface before reaching the target. Later editions included these details.

In 1954 a film The Dam Busters was made based on both Gibson's Enemy Coast Ahead and on Brickhill's book. Named after the latter, the movie starred Richard Todd as Gibson and Michael Redgrave as Barnes Wallis.

In 1954, Australasian Radio produced a radio dramatisation of the book in 26 half-hour episodes.


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