80 years ago, Harris about a whirlwind.

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Dimlee

Tech Sergeant
1,649
4,258
Feb 18, 2018
80 years ago.

Air Marshall Arthur T. Harris, Commander in Chief, RAF Bomber Command.
London. June 3, 1942.

"The Nazis entered this war under the rather childish delusion that they were going to bomb everybody else and nobody was going to bomb them...
They sowed the wind and now they are going to reap the whirlwind...
It may take a year. It may take two...There is a great deal of work to be done first, and let us all get down to it."


 
It was the Bomber Command that Harris built that sank the Tirpitz and many other KM battleships, took out naval yards, destroyed many U boat factories and pens, destroyed V1 V2 and V3 sites as well as their factories with precision bombing. His bomber Command even targeted the SS and Goering himself in precision raids. History has been unkind to Harris, he did what the nation asked him to do at the time, then people following got cold feet about what he was asked (ordered) to do.
 
Bomber Command sank Tirpitz, hit Gneisenau (never repaired), Admiral Scheer (settled on bottom of harbour, blown up later) and Lutzow (capsized in dock).

While there was an occasional raid on U-boat yards by Bomber Command the big effort was from 8 March 1945 onwards and ending on 13 April, the yards at Hamburg and Kiel. The bombing raids against the U-boat pens were ineffective until the Tallboys became available and Bomber Command did not try to hit V2 sites, the barracks at Nordhausen was the target in April 1945. The basic rule of the campaign was very few targets hit by the bombers were destroyed, while others had repairs abandoned.
 
Pocket Battleship Lutzow at Swinemunde. One of the tall boys was detonated there several years ago with a "controlled burn" of the explosive that…errr…got away from itself! Google it. Lotsa YouTube videos of the event.

The gardening operations by Bomber Command sunk a lot of German shipping.

Oh, that's not a battleship.

It's funny how some folk (not necessarily you, bud) will call anything German a "battleship", yet insist that the Alaskas were "large cruisers".
 
.....and Bomber Command did not try to hit V2 sites, the barracks at Nordhausen was the target in April 1945. The basic rule of the campaign was very few targets hit by the bombers were destroyed, while others had repairs abandoned.

Sorry Geoffrey you have forgotten about the attacks on some of the assembly sites like Watten & Wizernes before they were able to become operational with 8th AF also targeting Sottevast.
 
Oh, that's not a battleship.

It's funny how some folk (not necessarily you, bud) will call anything German a "battleship", yet insist that the Alaskas were "large cruisers".
Not a battleship, but a pocket battleship, a nickname given by the British to German heavy cruisers.


pocket battleship

NOUN
  1. any of a class of cruisers with large-calibre guns, operated by the German navy in the Second World War.
 
Not a battleship, but a pocket battleship, a nickname given by the British to German heavy cruisers.


pocket battleship

NOUN
  1. any of a class of cruisers with large-calibre guns, operated by the German navy in the Second World War.

I'm familiar with the terminology, but it ain't a battleship, as both you and the linked definition allow. It's a superbly-armed heavy cruiser.
 
Harris was echoing Churchill's words of July 1941

We ask no favours of the enemy. We seek from them no compunction. On the contrary, if to-night the people of London were asked to cast their vote whether a convention should be entered into to stop the bombing of all cities, the overwhelming majority would cry, "No, we will mete out to the Germans the measure, and more than the measure, that they have meted out to us." The people of London with one voice would say to Hitler: "You have committed every crime under the sun. Where you have been the least resisted there you have been the most brutal. It was you who began the indiscriminate bombing. We remember Warsaw in the very first few days of the war. We remember Rotterdam. We have been newly reminded of your habits by the hideous massacre of Belgrade. We know too well the bestial assault yon are making upon the Russian people, to whom our hearts go out in their valiant struggle. We will have no truce or parley with you, or the grisly gang who work your wicked will. You do your worst and we will do our best." Perhaps it may be our turn soon; perhaps it may be our turn now.

We live in a terrible epoch of the human story, but we believe there is a broad and sure justice running through its theme. It Is time that the Germans should be made to suffer in their own and cities something of the torment they have twice in our lifetime let loose upon their neighbours and upon the
world.

 
I agree with you guys and your general opinions about Harris, but as mentioned, he turned Bomber Command into a powerful, sophisticated and well equipped force, with the best bombers available to the squadrons and lots of them, sophisticated radio nav and bombing aids (a couple of years after the Luftwaffe, but that's a different story) and a sea change in morale, which the command desperately needed. I remember reading a WAAF's account of working at Bomber Command HQ, saying that before Harris came along it was dingy and slow, but Harris injected a sense of purpose and energy into the Command, getting everyone to believe that they were doing the most important job in the war.

Despite the many criticisms of him that abound, he believed in his workforce and they believed in him. He wanted only the best for his bomber crews, the efforts to build the force up comprising solely of Lancasters, by getting rid of the Stirlings and Halifaxes is well known and providing the crews with said sophisticated navaids made a huge difference after the Butt Report and its stinging criticisms of the command.
 
But they were and are called pocket battleships.

Yes, and pickup trucks are called trucks, but no one is going to confuse a Ford F-150 with a Kenworth. Bravo, you've noticed they both share a word!

Anyway, back on topic. The main thing I didn't like about his mindset was the dismissal of almost any targets that weren't cities. Anything other than dehousing, he seemed to label "panacea target" and fought tooth-and-nail against it. Sometimes they were indeed panaceas -- the ball-bearing strikes, imo, fit that description. The Oil and Transportation Plans? Not so much.
 
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