ATTACKING THE SORPE – OPERATION CHASTISE: 16/17 MAY 1943
by Anthony Saunders
Commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the Dambuster Raids
“In the totally clear moonlight, it was an incredible sight. What we couldn’t understand was why nobody else was there......The answer seemed horribly obvious, but there was no time to dwell on it. We still had a job to do.” George ‘Johnny’ Johnson
Following the success of Guy Gibson and his men in breaching the Möhne and Eder Dams, Joe McCarthy and his crew in Lancaster AJ-T ‘Tommy’ arrived at the Sorpe Dam – the only crew of the Second Wave to make it.
Detailed in the book ‘The Dambusters and the Epic Raids of 617 Squadron’, published by the Military Gallery:
… As McCarthy took them over the undefended earth dam it was obvious that the topography, as at the Eder, would require enormous skill from both the pilot and bomb-aimer if their Upkeep was to be dropped as planned. Wallis and the planners had decided that being an earth dam, unlike the Möhne and Eder, the bomb at the Sorpe should be dropped un-spun from a position flying along and adjacent to the dam rather than from head on.
Steep hills, however, rose on either side and to the west lay the village of Langscheid where to complicate matters a large church steeple stuck up like a sore thumb. If they were to have any chance then, as George Johnson wrote in his own book, “Joe was going to have to fly the Lanc like a fighter aircraft” …
Coming in over the village, banking sharply around the steeple and diving swiftly towards the dam, Joe McCarthy had precious little time to align T-Tommy before climbing away sharply to avoid crashing into the hills on the far side. It took nine aborted attempts before, on their tenth run, George Johnson was satisfied enough to release the mine. It was 00.46 hrs when his ‘Bomb Gone!’ was met with a “Thank Christ for that!” from the rear turret; Dave Rodger had just experienced the most uncomfortable roller-coaster ride of his life.
They had scored a direct hit but, once the tower of water had subsided, the dam was damaged along part of its crest but hadn’t been breached. Disappointed not to have caused more damage but proud to have scored a bull’s-eye, McCarthy and the crew of T-Tommy turned for home.
Anthony Saunders’ dramatic painting takes us to the heart of the action as Joe McCarthy carries out his attack – a composition that Bomb Aimer George ‘Johnny’ Johnson directly helped Anthony create and later described as the most authentic representation he’d ever seen.
The Collector’s Edition & Artist Proofs
Reproduced as a Limited Edition print in 2019, this exclusive edition was personally signed at the time by the last surviving British Dambuster himself:
- Squadron Leader George Johnson MBE DFM
The Remarque Editions
*With all components of the Collector's Edition & Artist Proof*
Widely considered as some of the best and largest in the industry, Anthony’s unique pencil remarques are individually created in the lower margin of the print.
The first edition, consisting of 15 SINGLE REMARQUES, are a perfect way to collect original art. If you have any particular request, such as specific aircraft markings, please ask when placing your order and we will do our best to accommodate.
Created specially for the serious collector, the dramatic DOUBLE REMARQUES are much bigger than a standard remarque and exclusively restricted to just 10 copies worldwide. The demand for these superb creations is such that we urge collectors to reserve their remarques early to avoid disappointment.
A passage from the accompanying letter signed by Johnny in 2019:
... Signing these prints has brought back many memories, not only of the sacrifice paid by some but also of the great gallantry displayed by all involved – not least my own pilot Joe McCarthy. I was the bomb-aimer on his Lancaster AJ-T and we attacked the Sorpe Dam, the scene portrayed in this magnificent piece.
Now, as the last survivor of the raid, it is my hope that this print edition be released posthumously in the hope that those of us who have passed before can help to benefit the surviving members of our squadron, and that our Association continues with its task of helping to educate everyone about the history of Bomber, Strike and Air Commands. They do this through grants and support for projects or appeals associated with the Commands’ activities, including the RAF Museum, the Imperial War Museum and Bomber Command Association.
They could not accomplish these goals without collaboration on such projects as this and the generous help of supporters like you.
With my deepest thanks
Squadron Leader GEORGE ‘JOHNNY’ JOHNSON MBE, DFM
- 27.5 x 20.25 inches
- Release Date:
Editions that feature original and unique artwork, such as Remarque, Tribute and matted editions, are specifically hand-crafted to order. As a result, our normal delivery policies do not apply to these items but we’ll be sure to update you as soon as your drawing is complete. If you have any particular request for your remarque drawing – such as specific aircraft markings – please ask when placing your order and we will do our best to accommodate.
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