WAR STO­RIES

ZOOMER Magazine - - ZOOM IN ETC -

tHIS RE­MEM­BRANCE DAY of­fers the op­por­tu­nity to re­call one of the most heroic, yet over­looked, Cana­dian Sec­ond World War suc­cesses. On May 16 and 17, 1943, 19 crews of 133 Al­lied air­men – in­clud­ing Cana­di­ans – flew Lan­caster bombers at tree­top level into the heart of Nazi Ger­many where they dropped spe­cially de­signed bombs on to the Ruhr Val­ley dams, wip­ing out the power source for German weapons pro­duc­tions. Four­teen Cana­di­ans were counted among the 53 Al­lied men killed dur­ing the raid.

“This ex­tra­or­di­nary op­er­a­tion … took place when the Al­lies had no vic­to­ries to their credit [and] turned the tide to a cer­tain ex­tent in the war be­cause this was a vic­tory to breach those dams,” Cana­dian jour­nal­ist and his­to­rian Ted Bar­ris notes. “Wa­ter flooded down the river … de­stroy­ing those mu­ni­tions plants and air­fields and all the Nazi build-up for 100 miles. And no­body re­al­izes this is a Cana­dian op.”

Bar­ris adds that, aside from the Cana­dian air­men in­volved in the at­tack, “all of the train­ing of air crew, bomber crews, fighter crews, ground crews, trans­port crews, coastal com­mand, every­body was trained in Canada … so it’s a Cana­dian story from its roots to its tree­tops.”

The 69-year-old award-win­ning mil­i­tary his­to­rian chron­i­cles the en­tire op­er­a­tion in his 18th best­selling non-fiction book Dam Busters: Cana­dian Air­men and the Se­cret

Raid Against Nazi Ger­many –a har­row­ing tale 75 years in the mak­ing that in­cludes the first-hand ac­count of Canada’s last sur­viv­ing dam buster, Fred Suther­land.

Mean­while, 2018 marks the con­clu­sion of Cana­dian ac­tor R.H. Thom­son’s five-year project, The World Re­mem­bers, which be­gan in 2014 and projects the names of sol­diers killed in the First World War onto pub­lic and gov­ern­ment build­ings in North Amer­ica and Europe in the weeks and months lead­ing up to Nov. 11. This year, the names of the more than one mil­lion sol­diers from 16 par­tic­i­pat­ing na­tions killed in 1918 will be pro­jected, mark­ing the cen­ten­nial mile­stone of the Great War.

“War is about the in­di­vid­ual: they fought it, they paid for it, they were killed in it, and they are who we should re­mem­ber,” Thom­son told Zoomer. “All those lives were equal and all those deaths were equal.”

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