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Bomber Harris (Hardback)

Sir Arthur Harris' Despatch on War Operations 1942-1945


By John Grehan, Martin Mace
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pages: 414
ISBN: 9781783032983
Published: 22nd April 2014
Last Released: 16th April 2014



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The bombing campaign conducted against Germany and German-occupied Europe in the Second World War was, and remains, one of the most controversial operations of the entire war. Much of Bomber Command's effort was what was defined as 'area' bombing, in which whole cities or districts were targeted. “The ultimate aim of an attack on a town area,” Sir Arthur Harris wrote in one of his despatches, “is to break the morale of the population which occupies it ... namely, to produce (i) destruction and (ii) fear of death.”

This strategy was so successful it almost brought Germany to the point of collapse until Churchill, worried about the devastation it was causing and the number of civilian deaths which resulted, ordered it to cease.

Harris' despatches explain in great detail the success of his methods which, if given full reign, may have brought the war to a speedier conclusion but would have meant even more German casualties. Such was the controversy surrounding Bomber Command's operations, Harris' despatches were not published by the government, even though the despatches of every other branch of the armed services, and all of their operations, were made public.

The full text of Harris' despatches is reproduced here along with an explanation why these documents were withheld for so many years.

Mace and Grehan have reproduced Harris’ despatches along with the Air Staff Memorandum on the Despatch and comments by Group Captain Sidney Bufton, who was the Director of Bomber Operations. It gives a good insight into the division in opinion about Harris’ despatches at the Air Ministry.


This book collects together the reports written by Harris, that show how he set about building Bomber Command and using it as a strategic weapon. There are many useful appendices and tables, and there is a strong photo-plate section that conveys graphically the major elements of what was a unique military campaign.

The book achieves balance and justice for the aircrew involved. It explains the objectives and achievements to equip the reader with an understanding of the scale of the task that Harris completed. In doing that, it provides a reliable understanding of the course of the war in the European theatre. Essential reading.


About John Grehan

JOHN GREHAN has written, edited or contributed to more than 300 books and magazine articles covering a wide span of military history from the Iron Age to the recent conflict in Afghanistan. John has also appeared on local and national radio and television to advise on military history topics. He was employed as the Assistant Editor of Britain at War Magazine from its inception until 2014. John now devotes his time to writing and editing books.

About Martin Mace

Martin Mace has been involved in writing and publishing military history for more than twenty years. He began his career with local history, writing a book on the Second World War anti-invasion defences in West Sussex. Following the success of this book, he established Historic Military Press, which has published a wide range of titles. Having launched Britain at War Magazine, he has been its editor since the first issue in May 2007.

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