Barnes Wallis - Inventor of the bouncing bomb born in Ripley DerbyshireBarnes Wallis
Inventor of the bouncing bomb


Barnes Wallis 1887-1979 - Inventor of the bouncing bomb

On 26th September 1887, Barnes Neville Wallis was born in Ripley, Derbyshire, the second son of Charles Wallis and Edith Ashby. When Barnes was two they moved to New Cross Road in London where Charles Wallis was a doctor.

Barnes received his education at Christ’s Hospital in Horsham , a public school founded in 1552 during which time he had decided that he wanted to be an engineer. He originally trained as a marine engineer but turned his hand to airship design and then aircraft design. He worked for Vickers and its successor companies (including British Aircraft Corporation) from 1913 until his retirement in 1971. In 1925 Barnes married Molly Bloxam. They had four children.

Barnes Wallis is best known for his Bouncing Bomb used in the Dambuster Raid ( Operation Chastise to attack the Möhne and Eder dams in the Ruhr area in May 1943 ) during the Second World War. Barnes felt that the best way of defeating Germany was to attack its industry.

The most logical way of doing this was to destroy the dams which collected and used the water which was so essential for industry to continue. He set out on a task to design a bomb which could successfully destroy the strong and difficult to reach structures of the dams. The original idea was to use a spherical bomb but in the end, the design was cylindrical. Barnes also designed other bombs such as the Tallboy and also aircraft in common use during the War, such as the Wellington Bomber.

Barnes received a knighthood for his work and service to his country in 1968.

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Barnes Wallis

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