The Hardest Victory: RAF Bomber Command in the Second World War

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9780393037630: The Hardest Victory: RAF Bomber Command in the Second World War

The work of the RAF Bomber Command in the Second World War has come under fire from a whole generation of historians since the 1960s. They claim that the RAF offensive against Germany was immoral, because so many civilians were killed. And wasteful, because so many of the attacks were not aimed at specific military targets. In this new book Denis Richards describes the Command's difficulties and failures, but redresses the balance by making clear the magnitude of the Bomber Command's achievement.
The narrative moves forward on a broad front. The operations and their results are seen against the wider background of the policies and personalities involved, the overall organization, the intelligence sources, and the technical developments. The story proceeds from the leaflet raids in the early months of the war and the attacks on the German fleet in 1939, through the disasters of the occupation of Norway and the fall of France, to the Command's role in the triumph of the Battle of Britain. Then comes the gradual adoption of "area bombing" leading to the "Thousand" raids of 1942 and the great "Battles" of 1943 - the crushing blows against German oil and transportation and the German fleet.
Stressing the great contribution made by Dominion and Allied air crews and the essential interdependence of the British and American air operations, and drawing on his correspondence with some 200 surviving aircrew and groundcrew, Richards offers fresh insights into the human element in the long and bloody business of bombing Britain's enemies. His account of the Bomber Command's achievement provides a revised interpretation of the battle fought virtually every night for almost five and a half years. The total casualty-roll, including the wounded, amounted to more than one in the two men who flew with the Bomber Command: truly it was "The Hardest Victory."

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About the Author:

Denis Richards became Principal of Morely College and subsequently Longman Fellow in the University of Sussex.

From Publishers Weekly:

Richards (coauthor of The Battle of Britain) here writes of how British Bomber Command developed a force of immense power and effectiveness during WWII. Adhering to a general policy of night bombing, Royal Air Force bombers had little success in hitting precise targets such as individual factories. But from mid-1941 on, as Richards shows, they concentrated on industrial areas, which in effect meant major towns, resulting in heavy civilian casualties. He describes how Bomber Command made its first serious impact on the German homeland with the raid on Lubeck (March 28-29, 1942), followed by the awesome thousand-bomber raids and the systematic devastation of Berlin. In 1943, the U.S. Air Force joined the air assault on Germany, providing long-range fighter escorts that enabled British bombers to operate over Germany by day. Richards challenges those who believe the American tactic of precise bombing as opposed to area bombing was morally superior by documenting that the results were similar. Further, he clears up a long-standing misconception about Bomber Command's chief, Air Marshall Arthur Harris, proving that Harris neither initiated nor was responsible for maintaining the area bombing policy. Photos.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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