The Sorpe Dam

Meanwhile the sole survivor of the second wave, McCarthy, had arrived at the Sorpe which had been difficult to find because of low mist in the valleys. It was immediately apparent that the approach to the dam was extremely challenging, and so it proved. McCarthy flew the approach nine times but found it difficult to clear the high hill and then bring the Lancaster down low enough, with the church steeple on the approach proving particularly troublesome, and either McCarthy himself or his bomb-aimer were not satisfied that all was right and called for the aircraft to go around again. The other members of the crew became restless as the bomber had now been circuiting the dam for half an hour and they were also puzzled that no other aircraft from the second wave had appeared. Eventually, on the tenth approach both McCarthy and his bomb-aimer were satisfied that the approach was perfect and dropped the bomb alongside the dam. Two and a half hours later Brown, who had received a radio message directing his aircraft to attack the Sorpe while in the air, arrived at the dam and found that the ground mist was now even thicker. Brown found the approach no easier than McCarthy, and the thickening mist made flying the circuit correctly difficult even though the dam itself was clear, and after flying into a mist-bound nearby valley and nearly crashing he ordered that incendiaries be dropped round the circuit to help him. In all Brown flew five separate approaches before dropping the mine on his sixth attempt. Although both mines exploded close to the dam and caused considerable damage, no breach occurred. The loss of so many from the second wave had seriously weakened the assault on the Sorpe and it survived the attack.

The Sorpe Dam. Essentially an earth bank. This type of dam was not the intended design for the Upkeep mine and was ultimately an unsuitable target for Operation Chastise. It was badly damaged by two near-perfect hits, but it survived the attack.