The Dam Buster

Green and brown: they’re good colours to see in a forest. They’re not so good in a waterway. There’s a 1,800 megalitre sediment containment lake which forms the scenic foreground of the town centre. It’s supposed to be populated with sailboats and crystalline blue, reflective water. Instead it looks like there’s an old, seventies throw rug spread out over the landscape.

The hydrologists, conservationists, biologists and even politicians all agree, the lake simply isn’t big enough to trap and filter all the sediment from the catchment area. The water from the surrounding urban sprawl is so full of pollutants – fertilisers, soap suds, oil, grease and garden waste – that the little lake just can’t handle it.

Mr. Waters has the solution. He flew in the Second World War. He was a dam-buster. His name is ‘Waters.’ He’s obviously the guy for the job! He’s had 96 years of experience on this earth and he’ll be damned if he can’t still make a contribution… that’s right. He’s going to blow the dam.

He’ll blow the spillway. It’s a skinny concrete number. He just has to sink a charge in the right spot. The lower the blast is, the more effective it will be. He doesn’t have a Lancaster bomber this time, but he’ll make do. The Germans aren’t trying to shoot him either this time, so it should be straightforward.

Mr. Waters fills a steel container with simple ingredients which, when combined, constitute a powerful explosive. His depth charge is so heavy that he has to roll it along the ground, but he thought of that. That’s why he made it round.

It’s zero hour. It’s literally midnight. Mr. Waters sneaks out the garage door with his face covered in mascara. He’s given himself cat-whiskers because that’s what the commandos do, right? He’s armed with a pair of bolt-cutters wired to his back and a 9V battery.

He rolls the device all the way down to the lake. He steals a steel dinghy using the pair of bolt cutters and somehow wrestles the device into the boat. There are no currents in the tiny lake, so he paddles towards the spillway with his hands. Time isn’t critical in this operation, so as long as he arrives undetected, he’ll be able to complete his objective.

It’s already 2am when Mr. Waters arrives at the drop zone. The gentle pull of the trickle of water flowing over the spillway is enough to suction the boat to the edge of the target structure. He uses the wire that attached the bolt cutters to his back as detonator wire. He ties two lengths to the electrodes sticking out of the explosive device, and he attaches the loose ends to the boat.


The bomb drops all the way to the bottom. There’s plenty of slack on the wires. He touches one wire to the negative terminal of the battery. He shuts his eyes and braces himself. As soon as he closes the circuit, this suicide mission will come to an end.

He takes a breath.

“Hey Mister!” Shouts a drunk, shirtless troublemaker from the shore. “Hey Mister! Sir! Mister Gentleman guy!” Three other young drunk join in the shouting match. “Hey old guy!”

“Don’t be impolite!” Rebuts one of the young men. “Mister Sir Gentleman. Are you senile? Do you need help from being lost?” His words are heavily slurred. He jumps in, despite Mr Waters’ protests, and pulls the boat to the shore. He’s been foiled, and he’s dropped the battery in the confusion.

“What’s your name, soldier?” Asks Mr. Waters. He’s beside himself with rage. Nick is the young man’s name. “Not your Christian name boy! Your surname.” “Oh… um, it’s Schmidt.” “A German! Hadn’t you heard boy?” “Heard what?”

“The war is over!”



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