November will feature documentaries from World War I and World War II. On November 11, at the 11th Hour World War I ended. It is the month when the veterans bring out the poppies and sell them. You also noticed that the British Royal family brings out their poppy brooches for the month as well.
Today’s documentary will feature the sinking of the Battleship Tirpitz. It was sunk by the dam-busting pilots who destroyed Nazi Dams to stop Hitler from gaining a nuclear weapon. This is the story of the 617 bombing force. The ones who sunk the Tirpitz. This documentary brings together the men who were part of that squadron that bombed Tirpitz. These men were inspired by the glamor of flying and when the war started they signed up to be pilots. It also brings together the crew of the Tirpitz who survived the sinking.
The Tirpitz was the fastest battleship on the horizon. It could sink you before you could see it. It was so heavily armored that bombs bounced off it. It was the greatest nightmare of the Allies while it inspired the Nazis.
In 1943, the Dam Buster squadron came together to blow up Nazi Dams. The bomb that was created was innovative by the standards of the day and could bounce like a skipping rock across the water. By the time of the Tirpitz, many veterans of the initial bombing raids were gone. Now it was time for a new generation to take control and destroy the world’s most dangerous battleship.
The second generation of the Dam Buster Squadron had their reason for joining. They liked the glamour of flying. Navy or Army life did not suit them. By the time they were trained, they were ready to be sent to the Norwegian fjords. The Tirpitz was sent to hid in the fjords to prevent the allies from sending supplies through the Arctic to Russia. It was a lifeline for the Russian war effort. One of the biggest convoys in the war was sent this way. They were escorted by 43 warships. It scared the British. The convoy was to scatter and the merchant ships were left on their own. Only 11 ships made their way to Russia. The rest were sunk by submarines.
It made Churchill furious. He demanded that the Tirpitz be sunk. They threw everything they could at the Tirpitz. There were 31 attempts to sink the ship. These ranged from manned torpedoes to sabotage. Finally, the Dam Busters was ordered to sink the ship before winter set in. The men trained in the Soviet Union to prepare for the bombing. They were trained to use their rubber rafts in case they had to land in the water. No matter what the Dam Busters needed to sink the Tirpitz.
Each of the bombers was armed with a tallboy. The bomb had such propaganda value that the Dam Busters were allowed to take a camera with them on their raids. Unfortunately, this attempt failed. The Tirpitz on alert made a fatal mistake.
In the meantime in Norway, the crew lived on the ship. It was a large ship. New crew members got lost on it. It was good eating for the crew as well. Red wine flowed freely at lunchtime. They enjoyed themselves on board. Eventually, discipline broke down on board the ship.
To continue to learn more about the sinking of the Tirpitz watch the documentary. It is one of the last times that the crews could get together and tell their stories. I would recommend showing this documentary to break up the discussion on World War II. It is a good documentary to have in your teaching arsenal.
You can access the YouTube Video here.
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