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The night of May 16th, 1943. Nineteen specially adapted Lancaster bombers take off from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, each with a huge 9,000lb cylindrical bomb strapped underneath it. Their mission: to destroy three dams deep within the German heartland, which provide the lifeblood to the industries supplying the Third Reich's war machine. From the outset it was an almost impossible task, a suicide mission: to fly low and at night in formation over many miles of enemy-occupied territory at the very limit of the Lancasters' capacity, and drop a new weapon that had never been tried operationally before from a precise height of just sixty feet from the water at some of the most heavily defended targets in Germany. More than that, the entire operation had to be put together in less than ten weeks. When visionary aviation engineer Barnes Wallis' concept of the bouncing bomb was green lighted, he hadn't even drawn up his plans for the weapon that was to smash the dams. What followed was an incredible race against time, which, despite numerous setbacks and against huge odds, became one of the most successful and game-changing bombing raids of all time.
James Holland is a historian, writer and broadcaster. The author of a number of best-selling histories including Battle of Britain and Dam Busters, and, most recently, Burma '44, he has also written nine works of historical fiction, including the Jack Tanner novels. He is currently writing an acclaimed three-volume new history of the Second World War in the West. He has presented - and written - a large number of television programmes and series for the BBC, Channel 4, National Geographic, History and Discovery. He is also co-founder of the Chalke Valley History Festival and co-founder of WarGen.org an online Second World War resource site, and presents the Chalke Valley History Hit podcast. A fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @James1940.