Letter: Bomber Harris: missions accomplished, targets missed

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The Independent Online
Sir: I read with some interest Tom Wilkie's article examining the policy of area bombing during the Second World War ('Massacre by miscalculation', 9 August), but I feel that the author has missed clearly addressing the issue of culpability.

The reason that organisations such as the Bomber Command Association are often unhappy with programmes such as Death by Moonlight (7 August, shown as part of the Channel 4 series, The Valour and the Horror) lies in the way that Air Marshal 'Bomber' Harris is held responsible for the policy of area bombing. Harris was held in high regard by bomber crews, and criticism of him is viewed as implied criticism of themselves. Bomber air crews suffered considerable losses and it is self-evident that those who experienced such terrible losses will not want to see them as having been in vain.

Harris was a supporter of area bombing and it was because of this that he was promoted to head Bomber Command in 1942. In other words, area bombing was official policy from Churchill down, and someone favourable to that policy was chosen to direct Bomber Operations.

By raising these points I am not trying to make excuses. Area bombing was a policy that was morally wrong. However, when making historical judgement it is wise to try to include as many of the facts as possible, as well as to try to have some appreciation of how the situation appeared at the time to those involved.

Yours sincerely,



10 August