Bomber Harris, Sir Arthur Harris’ Despatch on War Operations, 1942-1945

 

BomberHarris

The author was the commander tasked with creating a strategic bombing campaign against 
Germany in conjunction with the USAAF's 8th Air Force. By tasking the USAAF with 
daylight bombing and using the RAF bomber fleet at night, the Allies were able to maintain 
24 x 7 bombing of German targets, giving production facilities and defence units no respite, 
save for when weather conditions prevented the bombers from operating. Never before had 
any country been able to staged this level of intensive aerial bombardment as a strategic 
campaign. It became controversial because Hitler's propaganda minister was able to create 
the fiction that bombing, particularly of Desden, was a war crime, when in reality Desden 
was a major communications centre vital to the German defence against the Russian advance, 
therefore a legitimate target.

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NAME: Bomber Harris, Sir Arthur Harris' Despatch on War Operations, 1942-1945
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
DATE: 290414
FILE: R1970
AUTHOR: Sir Arthur Harris, compilers, John Grehan, Martin Mace
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES:  414
PRICE: £30.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Bombers, carpet bombing, precision bombing, night bombing, day bombing, 
trategic bombardment, fire storm, earthquake bombs, dam busters, bomber crew, aircraft, 
technology, strategy, tactics, organization, economic impact, WWII, World War Two, 
Second World War, 1939-1945
ISBN: 1-78303-298-7
IMAGE: B1970.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/qar678u
LINKS: 
DESCRIPTION: The author was the commander tasked with creating a strategic bombing 
campaign against Germany in conjunction with the USAAF's 8th Air Force. By tasking the 
USAAF with daylight bombing and using the RAF bomber fleet at night, the Allies were 
able to maintain 24 x 7 bombing of German targets, giving production facilities and defence 
units no respite, save for when weather conditions prevented the bombers from operating. 
Never before had any country been able to staged this level of intensive aerial bombardment 
as a strategic campaign. It became controversial because Hitler's propaganda minister was 
able to create the fiction that bombing, particularly of Desden, was a war crime, when in reality 
Desden was a major communications centre vital to the German defence against the Russian 
advance, therefore a legitimate target.

Harris faced a major challenge in bringing the RAF Bomber Command to the point where it 
could sustain its tasks in the face of very heavy casualties and operate effectively.

When Britain entered the Second World War, the RAF had two primary roles. One was to provide 
point defence interceptors for home defence. The second was to provide a long range heavy bomber 
force for strategic bombing. These two tasks had overshadowed the two other tasks of Army 
co-operation and maritime reconnaissance. The result was that all the best resources went to Fighter 
Command and Bomber Command. Even so, Bomber Command was not well equipped for its task. 
It had a small number of obsolete heavy bombers and a larger force of light and medium bombers. 
The light bombers were not very effective and the medium bombers were less than adequate with 
the exception of the Wellington. None of these aircraft were equipped with computer bomb sights 
and this was one reason that Bomber Command operated at night when the USAAF eventually 
began operations from bases in Britain. The Americans were equipped with advanced bombing 
sights that allowed pin point bombing in daylight. They also had a number of long range fighters 
that were essential as top cover for daylight bombing, where the RAF's best fighters had relatively 
short range. The short range was a consequence of RAF thinking that any future war would be a 
bombing war where fighters would only be required to protect high value targets at home. In night 
bombing, the RAF initially had to carpet bomb targets and accuracy was generally poor. To achieve 
any level of intentional success, it was necessary to launch large bombing fleets and prepare targets 
with marker flares laid by a small number of highly trained crews, the larger numbers following 
them, bombing on the markers. The exceptions were specialist bomber crews who trained to strike 
special targets. The Dam Busters trained to deliver a special bomb onto dams and later to drop very 
heavy bombs on high value targets. Less famous but equally skilled were other squadrons that 
operated aircraft like the Mosquito where their speed and accuracy made them suitable for attacking 
special targets, such as rocket launching sites.

The main resources of Bomber Command were devoted to strategic bombing in large formations 
with progressively larger, more powerful and more accurate heavy bombers of which the Avro 
Lancaster was the classic aircraft that eventually was able to carry a single ten ton bomb and use 
radar for precision targeting.

The thousand bomber raids were initially a largely propaganda attack. Only by scraping the barrel 
was Harris able to assemble just over one thousand aircraft for the first raid. This include 
obsolescent aircraft to make up the numbers, but later raids were composed of powerful and 
effective four engine heavy bombers as aircraft were built and crews trained. The older aircraft 
were handed on to Coastal Command for maritime patrol, used for training, and adapted for new 
roles, such as towing gliders and dropping paratroops.

This book collects together the reports written by Harris, that show how he set about building 
Bomber Command and using it as a strategic weapon. The are many useful appendices and tables, 
and there is a strong photoplate section that conveys graphically the major elements of what was 
a unique military campaign.

There is no question that Bomber Command shortened the war and may have prevented defeat. 
Had Germany been able to deploy in large numbers at the earliest time the advanced weapons 
that had been under development, the war would have been greatly extended and the Allies 
would have been hard pressed to achieve unconditional victory. The cost in equipment and aircrew
was horrendous and German propaganda was not the only reason for politicians failing to 
recognize the courage and achievement of the RAF and the USAAF in executing the bombing 
campaign against Germany. Full and early recognition would have highlighted the very heavy 
casualties.

This book achieves balance and justice for the aircrew involved. It explains the objectives and 
achievements to equip the reader with an understanding of the scale of the task that Harris 
completed. In doing that, it provides a reliable understanding of the course of the war in the 
European Theatre. Essential reading.