Letter: Neither glory nor guilt for the heroes of Bomber Command

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The Independent Online
WE COULD have hoped that Geoffrey Wheatcroft ('Firestorms darken our past', 7 August) was a sufficiently professional journalist not to allow misplaced moral indignation to undermine Sir Arthur Harris and the bomber crews that he commanded. All war is abhorrent and none find it more so than those who have to fight it. Throughout history the innocent have died along with the guilty, and the citizens of British cities were demonstrably more innocent than those in German cities.

The moral indignation of armchair critics always seems to fasten on aerial warfare as being more heinous, as if dying by a bomb was worse than by a bayonet. More civilians, men women and children, were killed when the Russian armies drove through Eastern Europe and into Germany in 1944-45. Was the Russian offensive also morally wrong? Try asking the people of the blitzed British cities what they felt. Without the Allied Bomber offensive many more civilians would have died as Germany could have built more bombers and the V weapons would have multiplied in intensity many times over.

In Bomber Command alone, 55,000 young men died helping to ensure a free world and with it the opportunity for people like Mr Wheatcroft to write articles denigrating them. It is cheap to claim that many airmen were gravely disturbed over what we did. The hundreds of old aircrew proclaim the opposite. We did not glory in what we were doing but we knew it had to be done.

Air Marshal Sir John Curtiss

Milford-on-Sea, Hampshire