A.C.M Arthur Harris

A.C.M Arthur Harris
Administrator, Mar 25, 2006
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      Arthur Travers Harris was born in Cheltenham, England, Britain in 1892 during a visit by his parents to England, while his father was on leave from the Indian Civil Service. He was educated at Allhallows School in Dorset, England. At the age of 16, he departed England for the British African colony of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe and Zambia).

      In 1914, he enlisted in the 1st Rhodesian Regiment as a bugler, and served with them in South Africa and in the German colony of South-West Africa (now Namibia). In 1915, he returned to England and joined the Royal Flying Corps, serving with distinction on the home front and in France during 1917 as a flight commander and ultimately CO of No. 45 Squadron. He claimed 5 enemy aircraft destroyed before he returned to England to command No. 44 Squadron. At the end of WW1, he was awarded the Air Force Cross.

      Remaining in the military, he joined the fledgling Royal Air Force, with which branch he served in India and the Middle East. During this time, he conducted aerial bombing against those who fought against British occupation. He commented "the only thing the Arab understands is the heavy hand." In 1924, Harris was posted to England to command the first post-war heavy bomber squadron, No. 58. Between 1927 and 1929, he attended the Army Staff College at Camberley in southern England. In the early 1930s, he served at the Middle East Command in Egypt as a senior Air Staff Officer. In 1937, he was promoted to the rank of air commodore. In 1938, he was a put in command of the bombers of the No. 4 Group and placed to Palestine and Trans-Jordan at the rank of air vice marshal. In Sep 1939, when the European War began, he returned to Britain to command No. 5 group.

      Harris directed the Royal Air Force's Bomber Command in its massive bombing of Germany. An early advocate of concentrated bombing on selected targets, in February 1942, when he became Commander-in-Chief of Bomber Command, he stepped up its offensive and on 30 May 1,046 planes dropped an average of 31 tons of bombs per square mile, devastating a third of Cologne, Germany. In August he established a force of photo-reconnaissance aircraft and in September the first "block-busters" bomb was dropped on Karlsruhe, Germany. In 1943 Harris initiated the policy of night-bombing. Later that year he bombed Berlin with unprecedented intensity but without inflicting a corresponding amount of damage. He therefore began heavy bombing in addition to depth bombing, killing many civilians but not diminishing Germany's war potential. Although his policies were supported by Churchill at that time, Harris was almost the only war leader not to receive a peerage after the war.

      Source: The World at War (Mark Arnold-Forster, Fontana/Collins, 1973).
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