Today the seventieth anniversary of the Dambusters raid is being celebrated as a patriotic triumph in Britain. ‘Operation Chastise’, the official name of the action, was an attack on German dams, carried out on 16–17 May 1943 by the Royal Air Force, using a specially developed ‘bouncing bomb’. Many planes were shot down and many young RAF airman died, sacrificing themselves for the war effort.
As a result of the raid, the Moehne and Edersee Dams were breached, causing catastrophic flooding of the Ruhr valley and of villages in the Eder valley. An estimated 1,600 people were drowned. Although German war production was temporarily affected, the damage was mitigated by rapid repairs by the Germans, with their production returning to normal in September.
Initial German casualty estimates from the floods when the dams broke were 1,294 killed. This included Allied POWs and, in particular, 749 Ukrainian women, kidnapped slave workers. Later estimates put the estimated death toll in the Möhne Valley at about 1,600, including people who drowned in the flood wave downstream from the dam. Today, let us remember in prayer the Ukrainian Orthodox women, innocent victims of the most barbaric war in human history.
To the Innocent Victims of the Dambusters Raid, Eternal Memory!