The tide is turned for Dam Buster bombs raised

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Army engineers yesterday successfully recovered the last of four prototypes of the bouncing bombs used in the Dam Busters raid.

The army team, including bomb disposal experts and Territorial Army soldiers, retrieved the four-ton bomb from the sea off the Kent coast where it was dropped 50 years ago.

The bomb was rolled on to the shore at Reculver, then attached by steel cables to a bulldozer before being winched further up the beach to be loaded on to a lorry. Attempts to haul the bomb in on Saturday night were defeated by the incoming tide.

Captain Alan Conroy, Army liaison officer, said: "In the end we rolled it in by hand. Ten men at a time took it in turns to push the device and the Royal Engineers have beaten the tide. King Canute couldn't do it but we did.

"The bomb is in extremely good condition. Some of the original paintwork is still visible and there is very little rust."

The bomb was the biggest of the four recovered and the furthest from the shore. Invented by Barnes Wallis, the bouncing bombs were used to destroy dams in Germany's industrial heartland, the Ruhr Valley, in 1943. The attack was celebrated in the 1954 film, The Dam Busters, starring Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd.

Reculver was chosen for testing the bombs because the twin towers of an old fort on the coastline were similar to the towers of the Ruhr dams which the pilots used to line themselves up on their bombing run.

The devices recovered also include a 1,800lb High Ball bomb, and two 1,200lb versions of the Upkeep bomb developed to target battleships. Heralded as an important part of military history, the bombs will be cleaned up before being put on display.

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