Advertisement
If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email us on hello@boards.ie for help. Thanks :)
Hello all! Please ensure that you are posting a new thread or question in the appropriate forum. The Feedback forum is overwhelmed with questions that are having to be moved elsewhere. If you need help to verify your account contact hello@boards.ie

Arthur 'bomber' Harris, War hero or criminal

Options
2

Comments

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,549 ✭✭✭✭Judgement Day


    Coles wrote: »
    And another thing. Have a look at the thread title and keep your pointless whataboutery out of the thread. Omagh? wtf.

    And it's not the Humour Forum either. :rolleyes:


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,020 ✭✭✭Coles


    And it's not the Humour Forum either. :rolleyes:
    That's right.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,020 ✭✭✭Coles


    ...did your dad die on the burma railway? mine did...
    That's very sad. It deserves a thread of it's own, mainly because it has very little to do with this topic. Unless you feel that tens of thousands of dead German civilians makes up for your loss?:confused:


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,994 ✭✭✭✭ejmaztec


    Coles wrote: »
    That's very sad. It deserves a thread of it's own, mainly because it has very little to do with this topic. Unless you feel that tens of thousands of dead German civilians makes up for your loss?:confused:

    Methinks that your opinion of Harris is solely linked to the fact that he was British.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,020 ✭✭✭Coles


    ejmaztec wrote: »
    Methinks that your opinion of Harris is solely linked to the fact that he was British.
    How so?


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 23,994 ✭✭✭✭ejmaztec


    Coles wrote: »
    How so?

    It sticks out like a sore thumb.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,020 ✭✭✭Coles


    ejmaztec wrote: »
    It sticks out like a sore thumb.
    Oh? Explain.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,020 ✭✭✭Coles


    Yeah, that's what I thought.:rolleyes:


    Here's the quote that seems to have triggered reams of attacks on me. Very odd that there would be such a reaction when the facts are completely uncontested...
    The bombing of Dresden was meticulously planned to create a firestorm to incinerate the city the it's civilians. War Crime.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,994 ✭✭✭✭ejmaztec


    Coles wrote: »
    Yeah, that's what I thought.:rolleyes:


    Here's the quote that seems to have triggered reams of attacks on me. Very odd that there would be such a reaction when the facts are completely uncontested...

    What did you think exactly?:confused:


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,020 ✭✭✭Coles


    ejmaztec wrote: »
    What did you think exactly?:confused:
    I thought that you wouldn't be able to defend your childish accusation. And I was right. Now how about we stop that kind of stuff and just stick to the topic, eh?

    Would the firebombing of a city of civilians be considered a war crime today? Yes/No.


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 14,148 ✭✭✭✭Lemming


    Answering the thread OP question neither here nor there, I'll just add this link - on the mention of the blitz - to show the scale of bombing that the greater London area alone endured during the blitz. It's a recently released interactive map showing locations of bombs dropped

    www.bombsight.org


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,994 ✭✭✭✭ejmaztec


    Coles wrote: »
    I thought that you wouldn't be able to defend your childish accusation. And I was right. Now how about we stop that kind of stuff and just stick to the topic, eh?

    I don't need to defend the obvious.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,020 ✭✭✭Coles


    ejmaztec wrote: »
    I don't need to defend the obvious.
    Oh? Explain.:rolleyes:


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,541 ✭✭✭Gee Bag


    How long has the war been over, getting on for seventy years, people died needlessly due to the nazi regime, condemnation of what took place is fine now, did you suffer from the bombing of London and other cities?

    This is a history discussion forum, you don't have to have been a particapant in the actual events to discuss history or have an opinion.

    The Nazi's didn't have a monopoly on killing civilians or prisoners, the Russians massacred tens of thousands of Poles at Katyn. Britian's scorched earth policy and failure to provide food aid in NE India resulted in the Bengal famine of 1943 that left millions dead.

    If there are standards for what constitutes accepatable behaviour in war then these standards apply to both sides
    I doubt it, so why try and castigate someone who was doing a job, he no doubt hated doing it, unlike some of the modern dictators who appear to revel in mass murder.

    You clearly know nothing about the man. Harris revelled in his role as head of Bomber Command. During the war his methods were being questioned. The USAAF initially attacked targets in daytime to try and avoid civilian casualties and to allow for precision bombing. Juxtapose that policy with this quote from Harris "The destruction of factories, which was nevertheless on an enormous scale, could be regarded as a bonus. The aiming-points were usually right in the centre of the town."

    Prior to D-day he refused to retask his bombers to attack Lufwaffe and air plane production facilities, despite being commanded to do so. Even after d-day he was infuriated with his bombers being used to attack troop concentrations, rail lines, etc. rather than being allowed to continue the campaign against Germany's cities.

    Here is another Harris quote "The destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers, and the disruption of civilised community life throughout Germany [is the goal]. ... It should be emphasised that the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives; the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale; and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy. They are not by-products of attempts to hit factories."

    The bombing of Dresden happened in Feb 1945, when the writing was on the wall for Germany. Dresden was a centre for refugees with little industry, as a consequence it had little in the way of air defence. At the time tjhe bombing of Dresden was reported by the western media as 'terror bombing'. In private even Churchill questioned whether the bombing campaign had gone too far.
    On an end note, the allies did not have oven and mass burial plots, get real.

    The Russians had very many mass graves before, during and after the war. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were burnt alive in allied air raids. Having crematoria is not the only criteria for what constiutes a war crime.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,191 ✭✭✭foxcoverteddy


    Isn't freedom a wonderful thing, quoting from unknown sources and condemming someone who cannot now defend the actions of the military.
    You actually make me feel sick that people died for you.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,541 ✭✭✭Gee Bag


    Isn't freedom a wonderful thing,

    Yes it is, it includes the freedom to ask questions

    quoting from unknown sources

    Unknown to you. Both are direct quotations from Arthur Harris. The first is from Harris own book Bomber Offensive (1947), the second is from Rhetoric and Reality in Aerial Warfare by Tami Beddle.

    Here's another quote for you, this one is from Winston Churchill'''

    "It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall come into control of an utterly ruined land… The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing. I am of the opinion that military objectives must henceforward be more strictly studied in our own interests than that of the enemy.
    The Foreign Secretary has spoken to me on this subject, and I feel the need for more precise concentration upon military objectives such as oil and communications behind the immediate battle-zone, rather than on mere acts of terror and wanton destruction, however impressive.,.."


    and condemming someone who cannot now defend the actions of the military.

    This statement doesn't make any sense. Are you trying to infer that no one should have an opinion on Harris (or for that matter any other deceased historical figure) because they are not alive to defend themselves?
    You actually make me feel sick that people died for you

    That comment is just ridiculous. That kind of shrill bleating is worthy of the Daily Mail.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,020 ✭✭✭Coles


    A very good (and balanced) article on the bombing of Dresden. Worth reading.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,191 ✭✭✭foxcoverteddy


    Of course people are free to express an opinion, that is the luxury you have and others, been afforded by the suffering of so many. Equally I have the right to express my opinion of your attitude to a man who was a hero.
    Yes there was a sadness of the death's of the civilian population of Germany, however to a degree they allowed the bully boy's to take over and many worshipped Hitler, knowing full well that he wanted world domination.
    You m ight criticise the Russians for their treatment of the Germans, are you going to do the same for the German treatment of the Russians, how are you looking at Hitler's reslove do wipe out the jewish population, the romany's, gays and anyone else who did not fit in to his perceived ideal race.
    No doubt had the war been won by the axis would have witnessed the same retribution of our leaders.
    My reference to Japan was to suggest that you had the same views on the dropping of the atom bomb as the bombing of Dresden and other German cities.
    There are always innocent casualties in any conflict, however the justification of the allies was the stopping of a madman from destroying society as we know it, it may be that both Arthur and Winston had second thoughts, being christians.
    It would matter not where you bombed civilians would be killed, it also was irrelevent whether we had bigger bombers than the German's, it was perhaps fortunate for us, you failed to mention the disasterous bombing of the London Docks, the sky was black with german bomber's.
    Hitler had no idea where the V1 and V2 rockets would land, I guess in your view that wasn't important.
    I presume you did not live in the UK at the time, the bomb's that dropped on Air Raid shelters, and places of entertainment, yes they killed people, surprised?
    You seem to have disregarded Germany's submarine warfare, if I remember rightly one submarine managed to drown something like 15000 yes 15000 people in one day, that obviously is outside your thoughts.
    One might be correct in saying the bombing of Dresden was perhaps not the finest hour, or the cruelty imposed by the russians.
    War solves nothing, we should have learnt that from the first world war and the carnage on the somme.
    We, well our leaders were probably aware Germany was on its last legs, so was Britain at one stage, had Hitler come up with an Atom bomb everything would have changed in a flash.
    Did the generals deflect to the allies?
    Arthur was a hero.
    Wishing you and yours a peaceful Christmas and at least the Gestapo won't appear, we hope not.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,020 ✭✭✭Coles


    ...
    Yes there was a sadness of the death's of the civilian population of Germany, however to a degree they allowed the bully boy's to take over and many worshipped Hitler, knowing full well that he wanted world domination.
    ...
    Arthur was a hero.
    ...
    So the German civilians deserved to die? Majority women, children and the elderly? Ok. Happy Christmas.

    With regards the rest of your contribution, I don't think anyone is going to argue against the rest of the war crimes committed by the Germans, Japanese, Russians and Americans. All the whataboutery is pointless. This thread is about Arthur Harris.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,191 ✭✭✭foxcoverteddy


    Your comments are incredible, beyond belief, no one deserved to die, German, German Jews, British, and Allied troops, children on liners torpedo'd by germans, refugees on liners torpedo'd by germans, the list goes on and on.
    War is ugly, something no one craves for, the people civilian or military are human beings, they have the same feelings, well except you who might be an exception. I hope not.
    It is very easy for someone without too much inteligence to pick on a sub ject and try to tell the world it was wrong, the man responsible was a b utcher, unfortunately or fortunately we are seventy years on.
    What was done then was seen in the most part as necessary to bring the war to a close as quickly as possible, to prevent even more deaths, unnecessary deaths.
    You fail to comprehend that had the rocket's succeeded, which they could well have done, Hitler might have reversed the outcome.
    Without doubt the rockets both V1 and V2 were wicked weapons of war, they had no idea where they were going to land, you obviously never experienced this fact.
    No doubt you will come back with some smart arse reply, which will be wasted as I have no further interest in communicating with someone so bias.
    Do have a good Christmas and say a prayer for all the dead on both sides of the spectrum, I might even say one for you. Goodbye or Auf Weidersen


  • Advertisement
  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,327 ✭✭✭Merch


    Your comments are incredible, beyond belief, no one deserved to die, German, German Jews, British, and Allied troops, children on liners torpedo'd by germans, refugees on liners torpedo'd by germans, the list goes on and on.
    War is ugly, something no one craves for, the people civilian or military are human beings, they have the same feelings, well except you who might be an exception. I hope not.
    It is very easy for someone without too much inteligence to pick on a sub ject and try to tell the world it was wrong, the man responsible was a b utcher, unfortunately or fortunately we are seventy years on.
    What was done then was seen in the most part as necessary to bring the war to a close as quickly as possible, to prevent even more deaths, unnecessary deaths.
    You fail to comprehend that had the rocket's succeeded, which they could well have done, Hitler might have reversed the outcome.
    Without doubt the rockets both V1 and V2 were wicked weapons of war, they had no idea where they were going to land, you obviously never experienced this fact.
    No doubt you will come back with some smart arse reply, which will be wasted as I have no further interest in communicating with someone so bias.
    Do have a good Christmas and say a prayer for all the dead on both sides of the spectrum, I might even say one for you. Goodbye or Auf Weidersen

    You seem to have an inclination against the Germans of WW2.
    I believe the Germans only resorted to unrestricted warfare in submarines after the British camoflauged armed ships as merchant shipping. Prior to that there does seem to have been a sytem of honour to board ships.
    I'd be more questioning why arms and war material were being put on ships with civilian passengers, (human shields anyone?).

    The worst tragedy was the sinking of a liner of refugees near the end of the war by the Russians. Most of what the Germans sunk was actually war material, you cant blame them for trying that, in a war?

    Do you have a ship in mind when you speak of a ship of children being sunk? if so please inform us. I'm not particularily aware of one, but if there is I'd rather know, so how is that any different to bombing flat of civilians (That includes children) as Harris wanted to terrorise the civilian populace into submission, by destroying them and all infrastructure.
    The citizens of Germany had little or no control over how the German Nation was run, certainly no more than we do now and that isnt much.
    The Nazis didnt even have an overwhelming majority of the populace when they were elected, only a majority of the overall votes.

    Also, you jump into the V weapons? ok, so this was possibly considered the German answer to unrestricted bombing, an incoming V1 or V2 does not have the same devastating effect as carpet bombing, its indiscriminate alright, but I find them no more wicked than being carpet bombed.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,020 ✭✭✭Coles


    What was done then was seen in the most part as necessary to bring the war to a close as quickly as possible, to prevent even more deaths, unnecessary deaths.
    You fail to comprehend that had the rocket's succeeded, which they could well have done, Hitler might have reversed the outcome.
    Without doubt the rockets both V1 and V2 were wicked weapons of war, they had no idea where they were going to land, you obviously never experienced this fact.
    Ok, I admit I have no experience of being attacked by rockets. I give you that one. But by February 1945 there was no doubt about the outcome of the war. And the incineration of Dresden and it's civilians did little to contribute to bring the war to a close. Not that it matters. To deliberately target civilians on such a massive scale (regardless of the motives) is a war crime. Now perhaps your argument is that we shouldn't judge the events 70 years later (you said that, no?) but that is precisely what this thread is about.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,327 ✭✭✭Merch


    I thought all this talk of was he or wasn't he

    Must be a current definition of what a war criminal is,

    So by todays standards, he was and a lot of others involved, he didnt do it on his own, this based on current information.

    At the time he probably was not considered one and for a long time after such was the animosity towards the Germans.

    But by todays standards it seems he is, but then again so were a lot of others.
    There are plenty of democratic world leaders even till recently that fit this bill too though.
    It depends on what side you're on and how righteous you feel I guess.



    The Rome Treaty of 1998-2002 creating the International Criminal Court defined war crimes at §8, at great length as is typical with treaties, and as follows:
    (a) Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, namely, any of the following acts against persons or property protected under the provisions of the relevant Geneva Convention:
    (i) Wilful killing;
    (ii) Torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments;
    (iii) Wilfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health;
    (iv) Extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly;
    (v) Compelling a prisoner of war or other protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power;
    (vi) Wilfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial;
    (vii) Unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement;
    (viii) Taking of hostages.
    (b) Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:
    (i) Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities;
    (ii) Intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects, that is, objects which are not military objectives;
    (iii) Intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a humanitarian assistance or peacekeeping mission in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, as long as they are entitled to the protection given to civilians or civilian objects under the international law of armed conflict;
    (iv) Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated;
    (v) Attacking or bombarding, by whatever means, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives;


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,541 ✭✭✭Gee Bag


    Of course people are free to express an opinion, that is the luxury you have and others, been afforded by the suffering of so many. Equally I have the right to express my opinion of your attitude to a man who was a hero.

    Fair enough, if I appeared overly arsey I apologise. But I do think your posts were over the top and were against the general rule of attacking the post not the poster.
    Yes there was a sadness of the death's of the civilian population of Germany, however to a degree they allowed the bully boy's to take over and many worshipped Hitler, knowing full well that he wanted world domination.

    Sounds like your making a case for collective punishment. This was outlawed in 1949 by article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

    If you were to argue that bombing German cities was a legitamate tactic up to late 1944 I would probably agree with you. After that it was gratuitous.
    You m ight criticise the Russians for their treatment of the Germans, are you going to do the same for the German treatment of the Russians, how are you looking at Hitler's reslove do wipe out the jewish population, the romany's, gays and anyone else who did not fit in to his perceived ideal race.

    This thread is about Arthur Harris. All right thinking people know the Nazi's were abhorent, I have never suggested otherwise. You are trying to put words in my mouth.
    No doubt had the war been won by the axis would have witnessed the same retribution of our leaders.

    There probably wouldn'y have been a trial, just executions.
    My reference to Japan was to suggest that you had the same views on the dropping of the atom bomb as the bombing of Dresden and other German cities.

    Dropping nuclear weapons on Japan was justifiable in my opinion. It forced the Japanese to admit defeat before the home islands were invaded which ultimatley saved the lives of millions of Japanese citizens and Allied troops. In addition, it deterred Stalin from invading western Europe.
    The bombing of Dresden did little if nothing to hasten the end of the war in Europe.
    There are always innocent casualties in any conflict, however the justification of the allies was the stopping of a madman from destroying society as we know it, it may be that both Arthur and Winston had second thoughts, being christians.

    Whatever about Churchill (thats a discussion for another day) Harris is one of those rare individuals who doesn't seem to have ever been troubled by second thoughts.
    It would matter not where you bombed civilians would be killed, it also was irrelevent whether we had bigger bombers than the German's, it was perhaps fortunate for us, you failed to mention the disasterous bombing of the London Docks, the sky was black with german bomber's.
    Hitler had no idea where the V1 and V2 rockets would land, I guess in your view that wasn't important.
    I presume you did not live in the UK at the time, the bomb's that dropped on Air Raid shelters, and places of entertainment, yes they killed people, surprised?

    Again your putting words in my mouth.

    Of course I am aware that vast numbers of people were killed in German air raids. I never once suggested this was insignificant. The point about the comparitive size and efficacy of bomber forces was made in reply to one poster querying whether any of the Nuremberg defendants were charged with indiscriminate aerial bombing. It would have been counter productive for the allies to have made such a charge against the Germans when allied airforces caused far more civilian casulaties.
    You seem to have disregarded Germany's submarine warfare, if I remember rightly one submarine managed to drown something like 15000 yes 15000 people in one day, that obviously is outside your thoughts.

    Submarines don't fly, therefore they were outside of the scope of the discussion until now. But since you brought them up.....Admiral Doenitz as head of the Kriegsmarine was charged at Nuremberg with waging unrestricted submarine warfare in breach of the 1936 Naval Protocol. This charge was not assessed by the court because of similar actions undertaken by allied naval forces, in particular the British Admiralty. I think this reinforces my point about no germans being charged with aerial bombing of civilian targets.
    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/JudgeDoenitz.html

    One might be correct in saying the bombing of Dresden was perhaps not the finest hour

    A bit of an understatement there
    War solves nothing, we should have learnt that from the first world war and the carnage on the somme.

    It kind of does solve things. The fact that you continually refer to what might have happened had the axis won infers that you think so to.
    We, well our leaders were probably aware Germany was on its last legs, so was Britain at one stage, had Hitler come up with an Atom bomb everything would have changed in a flash

    More whataboutery. I'm pretty sure Hitler would have used nukes if he had them, but he didn't. Therefore, I consider this line of argument irrelevant.
    Did the generals deflect to the allies?

    I've no idea what this means
    Arthur was a hero.

    Fair enough if thats your opinion, we'll have to agree to disagree
    Wishing you and yours a peaceful Christmas

    Same to you
    and at least the Gestapo won't appear, we hope not.

    Now that would be a surprise


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,020 ✭✭✭Coles


    Gee Bag wrote: »
    Dropping nuclear weapons on Japan was justifiable in my opinion. It forced the Japanese to admit defeat before the home islands were invaded which ultimatley saved the lives of millions of Japanese citizens and Allied troops. In addition, it deterred Stalin from invading western Europe.
    So what was more important? Was it the weapon or the willingness to use it?

    I would argue that the Japanese would have got the message if the Bomb had been dropped 10 miles off Tokyo Bay, or at the very least if it had have been dropped on a small island. To drop it on a civilian city was a war crime by any measure. To drop it on a second civilian city when there was no doubt whatsoever about the outcome was one of the most atrocious and immoral acts ever committed by man.

    No doubt I'll be accused of being 'anti-american' now!:rolleyes:


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,541 ✭✭✭Gee Bag


    Coles wrote: »
    So what was more important? Was it the weapon or the willingness to use it?

    I would argue that the Japanese would have got the message if the Bomb had been dropped 10 miles off Tokyo Bay, or at the very least if it had have been dropped on a small island.

    I would tend to think the willingness to use the bomb was more important. Given the control of the media at the time I think it very unlikely that the Japanese would have surrendered without the effects of the bomb being demonstrated in a way that could not be covered up.

    The level of resistance by Japanese troops throughout the Pacific campaign, especially at Okinawa, and the onset of the Kamikaze campaign were a strong indication of how bloody an invasion of the home islands would have been. (I think projected allied losses alone were in the reigon of 2,000,000)
    To drop it on a civilian city was a war crime by any measure. To drop it on a second civilian city when there was no doubt whatsoever about the outcome was one of the most atrocious and immoral acts ever committed by man.

    Your probably right in saying it was a war crime, but as we all know only the losers stand trial.

    I would argue that the use of nuclear weapons was a neccessary evil and can not be seperated from context i.e. the massive scale of killing worldwide from 1937 onwards and the need to draw a definitive line under the conflict.

    I would also argue that the demonstarion of the destructive power of nuclear weapons in Japan has kept the peace between major powers to this day.

    By the by here's a pretty amazing timelapse video showing every nuclear explosion since 1945. It's a bit slow until the late 1950s. Well worth watching if you have the time.



  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,297 ✭✭✭✭Jawgap


    I think the general view now is that the Japanese were well on their way to surrendering before the US dropped the bomb.

    Curtis LeMay said that "The War would have been over in two weeks without the Russians entering and without the atomic bomb. The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the War at all."

    The main reason (in two parts) was to demonstrate to the USSR that the US had developed the weapon and that they were willing to use it. It's also been argued that the use of the weapon was a signal to the USSR that, despite coming into the war against Japan, this was not their sphere of influence.

    That line of argument suggests that in dropping the bomb the US upped the ante with the USSR who felt compelled to rush their own weapon development and - more importantly - not to negotiate or concede much in the post-War era for fear of being seen to be vulnerable to 'atomic diplomacy.'

    Stalin gave his "Bolshoi" speech in 1946 where he went on about the inevitability of war and the need to protect against it, and linked that to domestic policy and investment in technology. He specifically referenced atomic power and the West took that to mean that the USSR was willing to pre-emptively strike with nuclear weapons to avoid being attacked.

    Another argument suggests that it was used to bring the war to a conclusion in days to prevent the USSR having much claim to have a role in a post-War Japan. Operations Downfall, Olympic and Coronet - the invasion of the home islands - were months away from being implemented which would have given the Soviets valuable time to involve themselves in the Far East and claim territory the way they had in Europe - the nuclear bombing of Japan prevented that.

    Using the atom bomb in Europe was never going to happen because of the proximity of US and Allied ground forces.


  • Registered Users Posts: 520 ✭✭✭dpe


    Most Britons who actually know anything about WWII wouldn't regard Harris as a "hero" (which usually involves putting oneself in harm's way for a start).

    On the plus side, he was a great organiser, single-minded in his approach, and in the first "total war", he wasn't squeamish; which is one of the things that works against him in the modern era; he was realistic and honest about area bombing whereas others, particularly the Americans, were in denial about the effects of bombing and believed in precision bombing which was a total fiction with the equipment they had. Harris didn't give a damn about German civilian casualties, and he was probably right not to worry about it, and for the whole period from 1941 to 1943 bombing was the only meaningful way to take the war to the Germans and actually help/show the Soviets that Britain was still an ally worth having.

    On the minus side, he overstated the impact of area bombing and believed right until the end of the war (and beyond) that bombing was a war-winning strategy in its own right. He fought tooth and nail to stop his bombers' redeployment to support D-Day and other battlefield operations, regarding them as a waste of time, which was both politically naive, and egotistical (the guy wasn't a team player, like so many WWII generals). After D-Day, Churchill should have been the one to rein Harris in; it reached the point in early 1945 that the RAF and USAAF were keeping score rather than affecting the German war machine.

    Overall, a bit of an arsehole, but a man of his time, and not a war criminal by the standards of the time.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,108 ✭✭✭pedroeibar1


    dpe wrote: »
    .............. he was realistic and honest about area bombing whereas others, particularly the Americans, were in denial about the effects of bombing and believed in precision bombing which was a total fiction with the equipment they had. ...................

    Gen Spaatz of the USAF was in full agreement with Harris- Ike had to order them to release planes for bombing the German defensive positions prior to D-Day. Omaha Beach is a good example. In the 30 minutes preceding H-hour, 329 Liberators and Fortresses of the Eight Air Force were used to bomb the ridge controlling that beach and its exits. They dropped 13,000 bombs none of which fell on Omaha Beach, most falling far inland.

    Before the invasion French civilian dead amounted to 15,000 and 19,000 injured; in the first 24 hrs of the invasion 3,000 civilians were killed, more than double the total number of American dead. (figs from 'D-Day' by Beevor).

    As for US planes and bombing, there was a British Army saying at that time 'If it's grey we duck, if it is brown they duck, but if it is silver we all duck!'


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 520 ✭✭✭dpe


    Gen Spaatz of the USAF was in full agreement with Harris- Ike had to order them to release planes for bombing the German defensive positions prior to D-Day. Omaha Beach is a good example. In the 30 minutes preceding H-hour, 329 Liberators and Fortresses of the Eight Air Force were used to bomb the ridge controlling that beach and its exits. They dropped 13,000 bombs none of which fell on Omaha Beach, most falling far inland.

    Before the invasion French civilian dead amounted to 15,000 and 19,000 injured; in the first 24 hrs of the invasion 3,000 civilians were killed, more than double the total number of American dead. (figs from 'D-Day' by Beevor).

    As for US planes and bombing, there was a British Army saying at that time 'If it's grey we duck, if it is brown they duck, but if it is silver we all duck!'


    Spaatz had that attitude by 1944, but had been like most of the Americans when they arrived in the UK in his belief that the Norden Bomb sight was a quantum leap in precision bombing (which it may well have been but the aircraft and under-fire crews weren't). It was only after an awful lot of losses that the Americans started to see that the RAF weren't just a bunch of limey idiots, and that night/area made more sense with the tools available than day/"precision". If the P-51D hadn't come along, the Americans would probably have switched to night bombing as well.

    As for the bombing of Omaha beach, the fact that it was one of many tactical bombing failures in the war (Cassino would be another obvious one) doesn't alter the fact that it made more sense to divert bombers to support battlefield operations on D-Day and afterwards than to blindly keep pounding away at German cities.


Advertisement