Saturday May 6, Coronation Day back home, finds us in Lippstadt in the German Sauerland just short of Bielefeld, having visited (for the second time on our tandem) the Moehne dam of Dambusters memory in 1943.
For Germany, even though at least 1500 people died, mostly forced labourers from then Nazi-occupied territories to the East (yes, including especially Ukraine) in the tsunami that swept down the Ruhr valley after the RAF’s bouncing bomb blew the dam open, the raid was just one of very many World War Two moments.
For the Brits of course, including this one who remembers well watching as a child the 1950s film immortalising the raid, the Dambusters were and are central to our very British identity, plucky Albion confronting Hitler’s evil, and good winning out in the end.
The dam today, with its large reservoir, is a very popular and lovely tourist destination, and just a few photographs and a delicately conceived small monument to the dead of all sides, recall a war we never thought to see repeated in Europe.
As we pedalled across the dam wall and back, I thought of the Kerch Bridge and how Ukraine similarly has been seeking, with the tools it has, to compromise Russian industry,
In 1943, after the raid in May (almost exactly 80 years ago) destroyed the central part, the dam was very quickly repaired, again with much forced labour, and much less damage was done to the Ruhr valley industry downstream than the raid’s planners had hoped.
So, much to think about on Coronation Day, and very quickly, a few photographs to illustrate a wet, wonderful, rewarding and yes, again puncture-marked day (our fifth, for heaven’s sake!), though this time not with perished inner tubes to blame but the world’s largest unexpected pothole-in-a-puddle.