75th anniversary of Dresden bombing....

Well, it's clear then we lost the war due to the Germans being just the most awesome and best at everything, oh wait.
The Soviets made indisputably the biggest national contribution to winning the war.

We were fortunate to be on the same side (up to that point)

Our own most significant contribution was not inconsiderable: but it cannot be measured in terms of forces committed, or casualties sustained, much less by decisive victories over German forces attained by British forces fighting without the support of allies.

It was simply that we did not give in in 1940.

The civilised world should thank us for that alone.

We, on the other hand, should not kid ourselves about our position in the alliance that destroyed Hitler, nor seek to gloss over the manifest ineptitude that prevailed in our interwar military, much less cling to absurd myths about the natural martial superiority of this island race.

You may choose to differ.
 
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TamtamPWRR

War Hero
Maybe the Germans should have asked the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto what they thought of the RAF being beastly to them. Just go to a place about 100km or so east of Warsaw, a little place called Treblinka, they'll find them there after all it's where they sent them.
 

diverman

LE
Book Reviewer
These constant attempts by certain parts of the intelligentsia to call anything Allied bad and the Germans were hard done to pissed me off.

We were at war, one that Hitler wanted a lot more than we did. This became a 'total war' with no holds barred, it turned out that the Allies just happened to be better at it than the Germans. Now, 70 years later bring better is criminal.

If Dresden was criminal, which I contend it was not, then what should the second atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki be classed as?

We were at war, we won, historians seem to think that is shameful to have won. I wonder if they consider what they would have been writing had Hitler prevailed?
Did the Japanese think that the US didn't have a second A bomb and received a terrible shock when Nagasaki was totaled. They never really thought the were defeated in Hirohito's comment 'the war has not worked out to Japan's advantage'.
 
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diverman

LE
Book Reviewer
Max Hastings many times, he even wrote a book about it.

Indeed his latest book, CHASTISE, spends a lot of time saying that the Brits were bad and Germans not so! He is very quick to use the mores of today to judge the actions of yore. Revisionist rather than historian IMHO.
And not much good as a journalist either.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
We, on the other hand, should not kid ourselves about our position in the alliance that destroyed Hitler, nor seek to gloss over the manifest ineptitude that prevailed in our interwar military, much less cling to absurd myths about the natural martial superiority of this island race.
Britain essentially kept the free world in the game from the fall of France until Barbarossa/Pearl Harbour. Then the USSR/US systematically rolled their sleeves up and started to smack Adolf about from 1943 onwards.

Although Bomber Command lobbed bombs at Germany during that period, it was militarily ineffective. It's benefit was the indirect effect of bombing.
  1. Morale sustained in the UK
  2. Morale sustained in the occupied territories as they could hear loud bangs coming from Germany, although they didn't know >90% of it was not hitting anything significant
  3. Small dent to German morale as they knew the bombing was only going to ramp up
  4. Diversion of significant numbers of AA guns, shells and manpower away from the Russian front where they would have been of considerable use to Adolf.
Bomber Command's biggest handicap in the early years of the war was a lack of effective leadership.
  1. Ludlow Hewitt had the brains but didn't seem to get solutions implemented
  2. Portal wasn't in place for long enough to make much of a difference - though I suspect he wasn't cut out to be an operational commander
  3. Pierse just sent bombers in the direction of Germany without investigating how to make them effective.
Harris did a lot for the day to day effectiveness of the Command - it was transformed under his leadership. And without Harris, Bomber Command would not have got the share of the UK's resources it did. But Harris lacked the strategic vision to identify how Bomber Command could really hurt Germany. At the start of his tenure, Area Bombing was the only realistic tactic. But as new navigation/bombing aids and new tactics appeared, he failed to see that precision attacks might prove more effective than area attacks. A more visionary commander would have experimented more with precision attacks - there were things that demonstrably worked and could have been built on. But Harris regarded anything other that Area Attacks as a dangerous heresy.

Wordsmith
 
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I never knew today was the 75th anniversary of RAF & USAAF bombing Dresden

Should we have organised a BBQ or something to mark the day ?
Aww we missed it. Surely we could have had a Lanc and a B17 alternate overhead for 24 hours or so, I'm sure a few merlins overhead and a few fireworks would have made their night/day
 
At the start of his tenure, Area Bombing was the only realistic tactic. But as new navigation/bombing aids and new tactics appeared, he failed to see that precision attacks might prove more effective than area attacks. A more visionary commander would have experimented more with precision attacks - there were things that demonstrably worked and could have been built on. But Harris regarded anything other that Area Attacks as a dangerous heresy.
It occurred to me, reading that, to contrast Harris and Haig.

Haig has had more than his fair share of abuse over the last 50 years for being a stubborn, dyed-in-the-wool cav type, relentlessly flogging the dead horse of futile infantry assaults, yet he presided over (aside from the day to day business of being engaged with the enemy) the transformation of a vast, low-tech, largely infantry, warriors for the working day army of amateurs, into a highly sophisticated combined-arms force that decisively outmatched the Germans in 1918, an achievement for which he has yet to be properly recognised by Joe Public, who prefers to cling to the Blackadder style myth.

It would seem Harris is getting exactly the opposite treatment.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
It would seem Harris is getting exactly the opposite treatment.
Make no mistake, Harris saved Bomber Command from a significant downgrading in the priority given to it. It's future was in question until Harris's attacks on Lubeck, Rostock and the 1,000 bomber raid on Cologne. And he did much for the Command tactically - for example,the bomber stream was an effective antidote to the Kammhuber line.

But he had to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing some necessary things - the formation of the Pathfinders and being compelled to join the attacks on oil and the German rail network being the best known examples.

To my mind, Harris was the best possible commander of Bomber Command from when he was appointed up to the D-Day landings. But when he returned to area bombing after those landings, that was the time to replace him. The bulk of the damage to the German cities was done in the last 9 months of the war. Had Harris been replaced by Cochrane (AOC 5 Group) - with his focus on improving the precision of attacks - much of the damage to the German cities could have been avoided - along with the post war controversy.

Wordsmith
 

diverman

LE
Book Reviewer
Make no mistake, Harris saved Bomber Command from a significant downgrading in the priority given to it. It's future was in question until Harris's attacks on Lubeck, Rostock and the 1,000 bomber raid on Cologne. And he did much for the Command tactically - for example,the bomber stream was an effective antidote to the Kammhuber line.

But he had to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing some necessary things - the formation of the Pathfinders and being compelled to join the attacks on oil and the German rail network being the best known examples.

To my mind, Harris was the best possible commander of Bomber Command from when he was appointed up to the D-Day landings. But when he returned to area bombing after those landings, that was the time to replace him. The bulk of the damage to the German cities was done in the last 9 months of the war. Had Harris been replaced by Cochrane (AOC 5 Group) - with his focus on improving the precision of attacks - much of the damage to the German cities could have been avoided - along with the post war controversy.

Wordsmith
That would have meant Cochrane moving two ranks upwards cue RAF senior ranks politics kicking in.
 

ACAB

LE
Britain essentially kept the free world in the game from the fall of France until Barbarossa/Pearl Harbour. Then the USSR/US systematically rolled their sleeves up and started to smack Adolf about from 1943 onwards.

Although Bomber Command lobbed bombs at Germany during that period, it was militarily ineffective. It's benefit was the indirect effect of bombing.
  1. Morale sustained in the UK
  2. Morale sustained in the occupied territories as they could hear loud bangs coming from Germany, although they didn't know >90% of it was not hitting anything significant
  3. Small dent to German morale as they knew the bombing was only going to ramp up
  4. Diversion of significant numbers of AA guns, shells and manpower away from the Russian front where they would have been of considerable use to Adolf.
Bomber Command's biggest handicap in the early years of the war was a lack of effective leadership.
  1. Ludlow Hewitt had the brains but didn't seem to get solutions implemented
  2. Portal wasn't in place for long enough to make much of a difference - though I suspect he wasn't cut out to be an operational commander
  3. Pierse just sent bombers in the direction of Germany without investigating how to make them effective.
Harris did a lot for the day to day effectiveness of the Command - it was transformed under his leadership. And without Harris, Bomber Command would not have got the share of the UK's resources it did. But Harris lacked the strategic vision to identify how Bomber Command could really hurt Germany. At the start of his tenure, Area Bombing was the only realistic tactic. But as new navigation/bombing aids and new tactics appeared, he failed to see that precision attacks might prove more effective than area attacks. A more visionary commander would have experimented more with precision attacks - there were things that demonstrably worked and could have been built on. But Harris regarded anything other that Area Attacks as a dangerous heresy.

Wordsmith
To bomb Strategically, Harris should have concentrated on the German Oilfields and their means of refining it. Much like the yanks when they finally wisened up to how to stop his Panzer Divisions and ground the Luftwaffe.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
To bomb Strategically, Harris should have concentrated on the German Oilfields and their means of refining it. Much like the yanks when they finally wisened up to how to stop his Panzer Divisions and ground the Luftwaffe.
The main contribution of the USAAF's 8th and 15th Air Forces prior to D-Day was to grind up the German day fighter force and render it incapable of significant interference with the Normandy landings. And in grinding up the day fighter force, it also pulled a lot of the Luftwaffe's strength away from the Russian front, thus helping the Soviets. I'd argue those were the most significant achievements of strategic bombing up to that date.

And once the USAAF had gained daylight air superiority over Germany, it started to pound the targets that really mattered - for example, the 8th Air Force initiated the serious attacks against the synthetic oil plants.

Wordsmith
 
To bomb Strategically, Harris should have concentrated on the German Oilfields and their means of refining it. Much like the yanks when they finally wisened up to how to stop his Panzer Divisions and ground the Luftwaffe.
From September 1944 80% of Bomber command daylight raids (153) and 53% of night raids (166) were directed against Oil and Transportation targets. Harris did not just go back to burning cities... He was told to hit oil and transport and he carried out his orders.. Using G-H, and other nav aids and tactics his boys made a pretty good fist of the job... In some cases bombing more accurately at night or through cloud than USAAF managed through clear.....

details attached at the bottom of post 130
 
Bomber Command did a lot wrong, but the effect on the war, and the cold blooded heroism of all of them - command included- can't be denied.
Very few of the posters have acknowledged the casualties born by Bomber Command prosecuting their task. These very brave young men from the UK & Commonwealth went out night after night with a very real risk of not seeing the following day and not knowing which of their comrades had survived. As Spec-op1989 says the cold blooded heroism of all of them - command included- can't be denied.

From my parents generation my father served in RM Commando his brother in RN far East, my mothers family one brother in 14th Army, the other in Bomber Command, all of them were in combat, but the one who seemed the most mentally and physiologically damaged to me was the one who was an air gunner in Bomber Command. So tonight I will be raising a glass to the memory of my uncle and his comrades in Bomber Command.
 
It occurred to me, reading that, to contrast Harris and Haig.

Haig has had more than his fair share of abuse over the last 50 years for being a stubborn, dyed-in-the-wool cav type, relentlessly flogging the dead horse of futile infantry assaults, yet he presided over (aside from the day to day business of being engaged with the enemy) the transformation of a vast, low-tech, largely infantry, warriors for the working day army of amateurs, into a highly sophisticated combined-arms force that decisively outmatched the Germans in 1918, an achievement for which he has yet to be properly recognised by Joe Public, who prefers to cling to the Blackadder style myth.

It would seem Harris is getting exactly the opposite treatment.
Read anything by Gary Sheffield?
 
I'll have to find out where the figures are, but the idea that Harris didn't bomb oil targets isn't quite as clear cut as much of the history suggests. Edit - Ah, I see MOzanne has made that point while I was typing this.

Harris was certainly sceptical about attacking oil, but the number of occasions where Bomber Command was sent out against area targets when it could have struck oil targets were in fact pretty few in number. Most instances of Harris going against area targets unrelated to oil were not him waving two digits in the direction of the Air Staff, but the result of weather preventing Bomber Command from hitting the oil targets themselves and going for an alternative.

More generally, what we have to recall is that while Trenchard went on at length about bombing, the RAF's day-to-day work was in colonial policing and building the IADS system. Dowding finished it with the introduction of radar. The RAF knew that it was unable to hit targets accurately and that its bombs were too small at least three years before war broke out - Patrick Playfair, the AOC of 3 Group sent a fairly detailed report about this and how only one bomb fell within something like 1500-1900 yards of the target area during the 1937 exercises. Most of the funding which you'd have thought went on bombers and all the associated training, avionics, etc, instead went elsewhere. Inskip completed the process - the value of RDF/radar wasn't fully grasped by the wider Air Staff at the time, hence their belief in a Trenchardian approach - you couldn't stop German bombers getting through, so hit the Germans hard in Germany.

What Inskip realised (and Dowding knew) was that RDF was a game changer, along with the IADS in which it sat and the Spitfire and Hurricane. And you could build more of these than you could the sorts of bombers which were clearly required in a future war - the Blenheim, Hampden, Wellington and Whitely were, in effect, interim types, a stepping stone to the Stirling, Manchester and Halifax for the war which was likely to break out in 1940/41. Unfortunately...
 
Very few of the posters have acknowledged the casualties born by Bomber Command prosecuting their task. These very brave young men from the UK & Commonwealth went out night after night with a very real risk of not seeing the following day and not knowing which of their comrades had survived. As Spec-op1989 says the cold blooded heroism of all of them - command included- can't be denied.

From my parents generation my father served in RM Commando his brother in RN far East, my mothers family one brother in 14th Army, the other in Bomber Command, all of them were in combat, but the one who seemed the most mentally and physiologically damaged to me was the one who was an air gunner in Bomber Command. So tonight I will be raising a glass to the memory of my uncle and his comrades in Bomber Command.
Of large forces engaged, i think RAF bomber command and the U boat crews had the worst casualties. The 5% loss average per mission and 25 or 30 mission tours would have been very psychologically draining on crews whose members were all mathematically literate.
 
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Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
Harris was certainly sceptical about attacking oil, but the number of occasions where Bomber Command was sent out against area targets when it could have struck oil targets were in fact pretty few in number. Most instances of Harris going against area targets unrelated to oil were not him waving two digits in the direction of the Air Staff, but the result of weather preventing Bomber Command from hitting the oil targets themselves and going for an alternative.
It has been commented that Harris was as obstinate as hell if his superiors (Portal, Bottomley and co) tried to convince him to follow a course of action he didn't approve of, he could be as obstinate as hell. But if ordered to to do the same thing, he would loyally execute the task to the very best of his ability. Oil and transport targets are the two main examples that come to mind of that.

One of Harris's problems appears to have been that he was such a strong and forceful character that his superiors shrank away from confronting him unless absolutely necessary.

Wordsmith
 
It has been commented that Harris was as obstinate as hell if his superiors (Portal, Bottomley and co) tried to convince him to follow a course of action he didn't approve of, he could be as obstinate as hell. But if ordered to to do the same thing, he would loyally execute the task to the very best of his ability. Oil and transport targets are the two main examples that come to mind of that.

One of Harris's problems appears to have been that he was such a strong and forceful character that his superiors shrank away from confronting him unless absolutely necessary.

Wordsmith
Indeed - the Official History is pretty clear in suggesting that Harris was given a bit more leeway than might have been the case for other senior commanders, which was one of the reasons that Portal was unhappy with the work when he was sent an advanced copy of it...
 

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