A South African-born Air Marshal, Harris had been a distinguished pilot
during World War I and had held various posts in the 1920s and 1930s
including Head of the Air Ministry Plans Branch and Air Officer Commanding
RAF Palestine and Trans-Jordan. In 1939 he commanded No 5 Bomber Group , RAF
BOmber Command and in 1941, led a RAF delegation to Washington to discuss air
co-operation. On his return in 1942 he became Commander in Chief, RAF Bomber
Command where he was to inject new confidence and an aggressive spirit into a
command that had been experiencing costly and disappointing results. Having
rejected a formerly held belief in precision bombing, he immediately stepped-
up the offensive, acting on a directive which instructed that operations
be 'focused on the morale of the enemy civil population and in particular of
the industrial workers'. This policy of area bombing because his unfaltering
creed in the following months, culminating in the devastating 'Thousand
Bomber' raid on Cologne on 30 May 1942. Similar raids on Essen and Bremen met
with less success. The accuracy of Bomber Command's raids was improved from
August 1942 by the establishment of a photo reconnaissance force, and in
September of that year, the first 8000lb blockbuster bomb was dropped on
Harris' entrenched advocacy of strategic area-bombing, as demonstrated by the
massive raids on the Ruhr, on Hamburg and Berlin which caused enormous damage
tot hese regions, was, however, opposed by his American counterparts of the
US 8th Air Force who preferred attacks on specific targets which were crucial
to a sector of the German industrial or economic system. These Harris
dismissed as 'panacea' targets. He was, nevertheless, in full accord with
Spaatz, the American strategic Commander, in totally rejecting Leigh-
Mallory's transportation plan for Operation Overlord which demanded the
diversion of the bombing force from its strategic offensive under the
Pointblank directive tot he assault on German communications and supplies in
and around the invasion area prior to D-Day itself. He, furthermore, felt an
intense personal disregard for Leigh-Mallory who, although Commander in Chief
of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force, he virtually ignored . Bomber Command,
nevertheless, played an invaluable part in the D-Day preparations.
The peak of Bomber Command's night offensive was achieved on m14-15 February
1945 with the devastating attack on Dresden.
A man of entrenched beliefs, Harris had an innate distrust of innovation. He
feared, for example, the setting-up of the Pathfinder Force which he felt
would create an elite body, detrimental to squadron morale. He maintained
that by forcing the Germans to take a defensive stand, numerous Allied lives
had been saved. To those he commanded, his resolution was an inspiration; his
ruthlessness a total commitment to victory.
Wysiłek tysięcy załóg alianckiego lotnictwa nie poszedł na marne.
Guernica, Wieluń, Warszawa, Rotterdam, Malta, Coventry i Londyn zostały
Against fascism !
HENRY MORGENTHAU jr. jr.
Z harcerskim pozdrowieniem.