75th anniversary of Dresden bombing....

I sometimes wonder why there wasn’t more thought given to wiping out entire capabilities. If you bombed the living shite out of every single bridge on the Rhein, you would cut their turf in half from a transport perspective on three fronts; rail, road and barge.

Why didn’t the allies bomb say every single power station in NRW? Or every coalmine? Oil refinery? Railway works? I know 617 under Cheshire did quite a few of these, like ball bearing factories, and the Bielefeld Viaduct, but if the Main Force had spanked every last power station over the course of say a month, the place would be completely dark. Or made the Rhein and Weser both unnavigable and uncrossable.
Probably because it was the most heavily defended pieces of air space on the planet.Before you could do what you suggest, you would have to take out the night fighter bases, the flak towers and the search lights.
 
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Probably because it was the most heavily defended pieces of air space on the planet.Before you could do what you suggest, you would have to take out the night fighter bases, the black towers and the search lights.
OK then, start there, and then move on to the coal mines, rivers and power plants. And surely only the stretch of the Rhein between Duisburg and Köln would be particularly well defended. Both cities and the ones in between were the recipients of Harris’ ire.
 

overopensights

ADC
Book Reviewer
I'm not questioning the validity of the attacks, as hideous as the result was; just asking if anyone of note had complained about it recently...
Not recently, but at the time, I think it was the Queen Mother unveiled the Bomber Harris statue the outrage bus went into overdrive
Shouldn't we put on another raid just for old times sake ?

Just in case .
Would that be via Calais?
 
Contrary to poular belief the RAF and other allied air forces carried out reconnaissance, bombing and CAS missions right up to and even after the fall of France and the evacuation at Dunkirk.
You mentioned Battles and Blenheims employed as CAS a/c in the Battle of France.

I have just recently read The Squadron That Died Twice, describing the 1940 experience of 82 Squadron RAF, flying some of those Blenheims, often in that role.

Well, notionally in that role, at any rate. It was not one they suited, nor had their pilots trained for it, nor were they operating from airfields in France, nor with air-to-ground comms, much less with anything remotely resembling real-time target data.

As a consequence, most of their CAS comprised stooging about around roads in the vicinity of map refs through which it was reported that German armour had been moving some 4 or more hours before the first Blenheim got there.

Their losses were appalling.

I can fully understand the desire to play up the lengths to which the RAF went in those desperate days, to do something necessary, which they had (unlike the beastly Hun) entirely failed to anticipate, but if that's CAS, then I'm Herz van Rental, Dutch renaissance portraitist.
 
Great find. I vaguely remember the 50th anniversary of the war starting. The BBC repeated in in either 1995 or 1996. To my knowledge it has not been shown since.

I wonder why bombing Dresden was morally any different to bombing any German city - eg Cologne?
Basically because Goebels multiplied the casualty rate by ten and mase some fine propaganda out of it which too many people believed for too long.
WSC took the bait and refused to honour Bomber command straight after the war.
 
Yep. When armour and self sealing tanks were fitted (in storage in the UK at the start of the Battle of France) and Hurricane's flew close escort in the latter states of the Battle of France, losses dropped to 4 - 5%. Another factor in the much reduced losses was the crews working out effective tactics for ground attack. They had no training for it and took heavy losses while they learned on the job. Eventually they learned to attack a target once from a shallow dive the instant they spotted it. Most of the early losses were down to circling the target first and then making several passes at it.



The RAF studiously ignored CAS until 1942 and Crete. Show me any evidence that the RAF did anything about CAS between the Battle of France and then. The papers Baughen has unearthed conclusively show they actively resisted any involvement in CAS. It was only when Churchill inquired into the loss of Crete that he found out the RAF didn't do CAS. Then the fur flew.

Wordsmith
The most efficient use of a country's resources to cause maximum damage to the enemy.

Had the RAF (and French air force) provided effective battlefield support in 1940, would the Panzers have cut through to the channel? They'd have been relatively immune for machine gunning, but their infantry and support echelons were not. Bomber Command sat inert in the UK while the supply columns could have been attacked.

Morale would have been equally boosted if the British army had performed better during the early years of the war due to the presence of battlefield air support. Check out the recent books by Greg Baughen as to the extent the RAF high command from Portal downwards resisted providing close air support. They used every excuse in the book to avoid providing it and it took the personal intervention of Churchill to change their minds.

(Baughen's books are based on extensive research in TNA, and he provides chapter and verse from the official papers of the time to prove his case).

Wordsmith
Baughen’s interpretations are not necessarily correct, though. I have to say that I'm not convinced by his portrayal of the 1918 RAF in the first of his books on the service, and haven't been any more convinced by his later work.

He and Matthew Powell (who has also been through the files at the TNA with great rigour) were engaged in a mild spat in Air Power Review a while back, with Powell arguing - and I tend to agree with him (I may have been through quite a few of the files myself...) - that Baughen’s view takes a far too critical view of what the Air Staff were attempting to do with limited assets; Baughen (unsurprisingly) does not accept this. A flavour of Powell's thinking can be found in his review here in a review of one of Baughen's books. He may - possibly out of a sense of frustration at what I sense to be a constant to-and-fro between him and Baughen (initiated by the latter??) - be a bit harsh in places, but the overall thrust of his commentary seems about right to me.

The problem with Baughen's ideas about the Battle is that the Greg Baughen Air Force sees this new wunderplane being escorted with more fighters, and more fighters means a weaker Fighter Command. Using Battles - which would still have been vulnerable, not least because of the additional weight heaped upon them - in the manner Baughen outlines is great on paper, but I regret to say that I'm not convinced that he's right in his view that with better thinking the Battle would've been a much, much better aircraft as a result and the damage inflicted upon the Germans much greater. Bombing the support columns was what the RAF wanted to do (interdiction) but they were prevented from doing this not by doctrine, but by the French not giving approval for the RAF to launch sorties as soon as it became clear that the Germans were on the move, lest Hitler respond by bombing Paris. By the time approval was given, the Germans were provided with considerable fighter support and loads of flak. I'm afraid that I tend towards the opinion that the Greg Baughen view of how the Battle of France should've been fought would simply have seen a few more posthumous VCs for Battle (and Blenheim) crewmembers...

As for CAS, there's a danger of being bogged down in defining what this was, not least because of the fixation upon 'close'. The RAF thought - with some justification, but not (as Al McCluskey has shown) quite as much as they assumed - that interdicting forces as they approached the battle area was a far more profitable use of aircraft, with some overhead presence for what we'd now term TICs being of a last resort nature. When Ray Collishaw's (effective) employment of aircraft in support of the Army during Op COMPASS didn't meet with the Army's expectations of aeroplanes overhead, etc, the RAF found itself forced into doing what the Army thought best during BATTLEAXE. It didn't go well...

The end result was that Churchill intervened and proper codification of air support was laid down - but the basis for thinking about air support as a whole predates the successes of 1942 by some way; it should be recalled that a lot of what the RAF did in North Africa, the Med and Normandy/NW Europe was in keeping with their thinking on air support. The fact that Monty and Coningham fell out and started behaving like three year olds towards each other didn't help and caused suspicions (see, inter alia, Ian Gooderson's work on this). But despite gallons of printer's ink being expended on the issue of air support already, I don't think that we have the full answer yet, even if Baughen is trying to provide it by sheer weight of words written on the subject.
 
The AfD doesn't seem happy about it.
"AfD’s co-chairman, Tino Chrupalla, recently stated that the bombing of Dresden cost “about 100,000 lives.” While such claims are dismissed by experts and condemned as revisionism by centrist parties, they reflect Alternative for Germany’s tactic of gaining attention by breaking taboos. "
But I'm sure you'll seize that as an opportunity to get all outraged about Brexit again
Well, they would, wouldn't they?

My original Q stemmed from someone referring to snowflakes complaining about the raid, which I took as a reference to it being done recently.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
Basically because Goebels multiplied the casualty rate by ten and mase some fine propaganda out of it which too many people believed for too long.
WSC took the bait and refused to honour Bomber command straight after the war.
It was only in the early 90s after reunification that the West got to see official records (records the Commies were in no rush to release) that it was realised that the former 6. SS Panzerarmee had been caught in the sidings.

It barely got a mention in the UK, never mind a Germany that still holds a grudge.
 
You mentioned Battles and Blenheims employed as CAS a/c in the Battle of France.

I have just recently read The Squadron That Died Twice, describing the 1940 experience of 82 Squadron RAF, flying some of those Blenheims, often in that role.

Well, notionally in that role, at any rate. It was not one they suited, nor had their pilots trained for it, nor were they operating from airfields in France, nor with air-to-ground comms, much less with anything remotely resembling real-time target data.

As a consequence, most of their CAS comprised stooging about around roads in the vicinity of map refs through which it was reported that German armour had been moving some 4 or more hours before the first Blenheim got there.

Their losses were appalling.

I can fully understand the desire to play up the lengths to which the RAF went in those desperate days, to do something necessary, which they had (unlike the beastly Hun) entirely failed to anticipate, but if that's CAS, then I'm Herz van Rental, Dutch renaissance portraitist.
I think our modern day perception of CAS and the 1940's version are slightly different.
Given the intelligence and capability of the day, bombing a bridge 5 miles from the advancing enemy was considered the bees knees in CAS terms.

ETA. Having just read @Archimedes post #149, he explains it far better than I could.
 
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Helm

MIA
Moderator
Book Reviewer
Well, they would, wouldn't they?

My original Q stemmed from someone referring to snowflakes complaining about the raid, which I took as a reference to it being done recently.
The link was yesterday, how more recent would you like?
 
The AfD doesn't seem happy about it.
"AfD’s co-chairman, Tino Chrupalla, recently stated that the bombing of Dresden cost “about 100,000 lives.” While such claims are dismissed by experts and condemned as revisionism by centrist parties, they reflect Alternative for Germany’s tactic of gaining attention by breaking taboos. "
But I'm sure you'll seize that as an opportunity to get all outraged about Brexit again
If the latest German Neo-Nazis would like a taboo broken I'm sure we could manage it. It would have to be SSBN based though.

Who on earth do these people think they are?
 

Helm

MIA
Moderator
Book Reviewer
If the latest German Neo-Nazis would like a taboo broken I'm sure we could manage it. It would have to be SSBN based though.

Who on earth do these people think they are?
The other side of the coin to the more extreme left wing, the two are virtually identical, just the slogans and group they chose to hate differ.
 
The other side of the coin to the more extreme left wing, the two are virtually identical, just the slogans and group they chose to hate differ.
Extremists - I shit 'em.

Bolsheviks/Nazis - what's the difference?

The uniforms probably - that's what would have swayed me...
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
Baughen’s interpretations are not necessarily correct, though. I have to say that I'm not convinced by his portrayal of the 1918 RAF in the first of his books on the service, and haven't been any more convinced by his later work.

[Snipped for Brevity]
Interesting and insightful post.

I'm not going to disagree with with that Baughen over eggs his pudding a bit - but it's an interesting point of view.

My (greatly oversimplified) view of the roots of all this go something like this:
  1. RAF fights off determined but uncoordinated attempts to strip it of its Independence from the other two services in th early 20's
  2. RAF settles on strategic bombing as the reason for it's existence - attacking the enemy heartlands is something the other two services can't do. It's the cornerstone of the RAF's case for continued independence
  3. Strategic bombing becomes an article of faith with the RAF - they do little or no practical work between the wars to identify and overcome practical problems.
  4. "The bomber will always get through" is true until 1936/37 until the advent of radar and 8 gun fighters. At that point the RAF should have evaluated its doctrine. Instead it's insistent that only bombers can deter and fighters are relatively useless.
  5. It takes Dowding to set up the worlds first IADS and Inskip to tell the RAF they should be building fighters, not bombers to save the UK from defeat in the Battle of Britain. Has the RAF had its way, we would have had a large bomber force and a small fighter force.
  6. After the defeat of France, we only have Bomber Command to strike back with. At that stage of the war it's virtually ineffectual, but no one in the RAF high command wants to admit the emperor has no clothes. (It takes the Butt report in 1941 to do that).
  7. The RAF fights shy of getting involved in CAS and ASW because it fears emphasis being put on Army Cooperation Command and Coastal Command with Bomber Command left to wither on the vine. Were that to happen, the RAF would become the handmaiden of the Army and Navy.
I take your point about the battle of France, but had the German advance been halted by the RAF committing all of bomber command plus additional fighters to interdict the German advance on French soil, there would have been no Battle of Britain. The Germans needed fighter airfields on the French coast. Without them it would be un-escorted bombers. And the German raid against the north of England from Norway in the B of B shows what would have happened to that.

Wordsmith
 
I smile whenever the Bombing of Dresden come up in the outrage dept (my mother spent 24 hours underneath a bombed factory in London, along with a number of other female munitions workers), I'm afraid I can't get worked up anymore. They started it, we just happened to be better at it !

Inevitably, the majority of 'screamers' have never been 'on the ground' and, all of those who have visited, it was after reunification having been rebuilt.

Dresden was a transportation Hub for road,rail and (which passes most people by) waterway, it sits on the Elbe. It also had numerous factories producing war materials, a legitimate target
 
I smile whenever the Bombing of Dresden come up in the outrage dept (my mother spent 24 hours underneath a bombed factory in London, along with a number of other female munitions workers), I'm afraid I can't get worked up anymore. They started it, we just happened to be better at it !

Inevitably, the majority of 'screamers' have never been 'on the ground' and, all of those who have visited, it was after reunification having been rebuilt.

Dresden was a transportation Hub for road,rail and (which passes most people by) waterway, it sits on the Elbe. It also had numerous factories producing war materials, a legitimate target
Also IIRC the fire storm was not expected.
But Harris tried his best to re create it afterwards.
 

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