This site was created in dedication to all of the men & women who served with the RAF and Commonwealth Squadrons operating the B-24 Liberator of which my Grandfather was one. Their courage and dedication should never be forgotten. Hopefully in time this site will encompass all of the Squadrons of Bomber Command, Coastal Command, 205 Group and the SEAC. My aim is to incorporate a public information section for families of crews to exchange memories or just stay in contact. With your help this site will continually grow, and a record of what it was like to have served and lived during the bitter struggle of WWII will be available to all. Any information or photos would be gratefully accepted, please feel free to email me these or any questions you may have.
If you ask a typical group of 30—40 year olds today what they know about the Bomber Offensive in World War II they are likely to say ‘Oh yes, that was the bombing of German cities when thousands of civilians were killed’, and more than likely too Dresden will be mentioned. The Bomber Offensive was, or has become, the most controversial campaign of the war. I say ‘has become’ because, apart from a few voices, the whole British nation was behind the Offensive at the time. It was a combined Offensive, Bomber Command and the United States 8th Air Force, at least from mid-1942 onwards. From that time, Bomber Command at night and the Americans by day conducted round-the-clock bombing and gave no respite to the Germans. The seeds of the controversy were sown at the end of the war, when the enormous damage done to German cities and the whole infrastructure of the country became clear. Analysis done immediately after the war by the United States Strategic Bombing Survey and the very much smaller British Bombing Survey Unit, upon which much of the Official History was based, was in parts not uncritical of what the bombing had achieved, particularly in terms of the effects on German industrial production.
It is these documents on which many of the critics of Bomber Command have based their case and have given grist to the mill of those who choose to question whether it is morally right to expose the civilian population to such bombing. Civilians inevitably get caught up in war; many of them were working in factories, or elsewhere, in support of the enemy war effort. These critics choose to ignore the fact that 42,000 Britons were killed during the Blitz. But, importantly, over the years much further information has become available, mostly from German sources, which presents a different picture of what the bombing achieved and now enables a more accurate analysis to be made.
Much of the criticism has been directed at Sir Arthur Harris, the Commander-in-Chief of Bomber Command for the major part of the war, and this came to ahead in 1992 when a statue to his memory was erected in London. The impetus for the statue came from those who had served under him in Bomber Command who all felt strongly that he should receive the same public recognition as other great wartime Commanders. The veterans of Bomber Command, who had seen so many of their comrades killed and had been lauded as heroes during the war, have been incensed at what they have always regarded as ill-informed criticism of what both they and their Commander-in-Chief had done. They have always recognised that the criticism has come from a small and vociferous section of the community, and that most of those who lived through the war remain ever appreciative of their achievements and sacrifices. Nevertheless the publicity given to the criticism sticks in the public’s mind.
The bomber crews did not enjoy what they had to do. They were very conscious that some innocent civilians unavoidably were being killed in the course of the bombing of industrial cities but they had a job to do and knew that war is a dirty business. Furthermore, they are upset that so much publicity has been given to what was less than half of what they did, and that due public recognition has never been given to the enormous contribution they made to winning the war at sea and on land.
- Written by: Gary Fowkes
- Category: Site Pages
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