Max Hastings - Chastise: The Dam Busters Story 1943

We’re proud to welcome Max Hastings, the prolific historian, journalist, author, newspaper editor and presenter. Author of 26 books, many of which have reached No 1 on the Sunday Times list.
Vietnam has sold nearly 85k copies since publication last September.
His new book is about Operation Chastise, the destruction of the Mohne and Eder dams in northwest Germany by the RAF’s 617 Squadron on the night of 16/17 May 1943. This is an epic that has passed into Britain’s national legend. Max Hastings has been working on histories of the bombing raids of WW2 for the past forty years. He interviewed many of the participants in the dams raid including Leonard Cheshire and Barnes Wallis.
Length - 60 mins
Standard Tickets - £15
Premium Tickets - £20
Date Thursday 14th November 2019
Time 7:30 PM
Venue Desborough Hall

Max Hastings grew up embracing the story, the classic 1955 movie and the memory of Guy Gibson, the 24-year-old wing-commander who led the raid. In the 21st Century, however, he urges that we should see the dambusters in much more complex shades.

Max Hastings Chastise 2.jpg

The aircrew’s heroism was entirely real, as was the brilliance of Barnes Wallis, inventor of the ‘bouncing bombs’. But commanders who promised their young fliers that success could shorten the war fantasised as ruthlessly as they did about the entire bomber offensive. Some 1,400 civilians perished in the biblical floods that swept through the Mohne valley, more than half of them Russian and Polish women, slave labourers.

Max Hastings Chastise.jpgHastings vividly describes the evolution of Wallis’ bomb, and of the squadron which broke the dams. But he also portrays in harrowing detail those swept away by the torrents. He argues that what modern Germans call the Mohnekatastrophe imposed on the Nazi war machine temporary disruption, rather than a crippling blow. Ironically, Air Marshal Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris gained much of the public credit, though he bitterly opposed Chastise as a distraction from his city-burning blitz. Harris also made perhaps the operation’s biggest mistake – failure to launch a conventional attack on the huge post-raid repair operation which could have transformed the impact of the dam breaches on Ruhr industry.

Here once again is a dramatic retake on familiar history by a master of the art. Hastings sets the Dams Raid in the big picture of the bomber offensive and of the Second World War, with moving portraits of the young airmen, so many of whom died; of Barnes Wallis; the monstrous Harris; the tragic Guy Gibson, together with superb narrative of the action of one of the most extraordinary episodes in British history.

Unreserved Seating

Premium Seats - first 6 rows
Standard Seats - from row 7 to the back