Letter: The huge debt that we owe to Harris

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The Independent Online
Sir: Ken Clark, in his letter (11 August), states: 'After Dresden, Churchill and the War Cabinet disowned Harris and the bombing policy. He was denied the expected peerage and Bomber Command received no campaign medals.'

It was not Churchill who denied the peerage but the 1945 Labour Cabinet. On 6 January 1946, Churchill wrote to the Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, expressing his sorrow that Harris had been omitted from the Honours List:

No Commander-in-Chief in the Royal Air Force after Dowding bore so heavy and direct burden as he, and none contributed more distinguished qualities to the discharge of his duty . . . When we consider also the immense part played by the bombing offensive in shortening the war and thus bringing it to an end before the enemy long-range weapons developed their full potency, nobody can deny its cardinal importance. It was also a grim and invidious task that was laid upon this Air Marshal and which he discharged with unfailing poise and equanimity, although deeply conscious of its grievousness. I earnestly trust that this omission may be repaired before Marshal of the Royal Air Force Harris leaves this country to make his home in South Africa.

Yours faithfully,


Honorary Secretary

101 Squadron Association


11 August