First of all, apologies to anyone who was offended last time. It was interesting though how tensions surfaced which both reflect wartime niggles and contemporary perceptions.
Following on from last time, and spinning the clock forward six months from December 1943, another paper and print publication touched on the theme of US and British rivalries.
‘The Aeroplane – incorporating Aeronautical Engineering’, issue 1726 (23rd June 1944) leads with an editorial article entitled ‘Bombing – Fiction and Facts’.
‘Our United States contemporary, “Aero Digest,” in a recent number, belittles the the Allied bombing of German industry and communications, and incidentally speculates on the difficulties of an invasion of Europe by land forces. We can excuse any false conception of the initial dangers of invasion, but lack of appreciation of the pre-invasion bombing shows a misinterpretation of facts not excused by ignorance.
After admitting that Allied air supremacy will be the deciding factor in the success of the invasion our contemporary adds, “nor is this any less true in view of the mediocre results of the RAF’s early scheme of bombing Germany completely out of the War from the air.” We agree that senior RAF officers are believed to hold strong views on the ability of their Service to smash Germany without any except final resort to land invasion, but in the general strategy of War the RAF is a tactical weapon subservient to the broader strategical plans of higher Allied Command. Few German industrialists, or even the procrastinating henchmen of Dr Göbbels, would class the dropping of 275,000 tons of bombs by Bomber command of the Royal Air Force alone on Germany’s War industry as “mediocre”.
The article goes on to outline the US view that the Allied city bombing campaign was ineffective because repairs were soon made to industrial buildings and communications and that weapons were still being produced – making the bombing a ‘dismal’ failure. A criticism which seemed (and still does) somewhat churlish as the USAAF had been invited to the Berlin ‘party’ by Sir Arthur Harris but were unable to ‘be in on it’ until time had virtually been called on the winter’s campaign.
The effectiveness of the bombing campaign would surely be impossible to quantify until the end of the war. Had “Aero Digest’s” reported opinion been coloured by the Eighth Air Force’s own heavy losses and difficulties in bombing accurately in cloudy European skies? Or was it perhaps a comment on the RAF’s night area bombing strategy?
The Editorial’s concluding paragraph reports (note – that the date of the article is 23rd June 1944):- ‘Finally, “Aero Digest” turns to the bombing of the German capital. “Obliteration of Berlin seems inevitable as the AAF closes in for the kill,” it writes. “The RAF, of course, has already softened up the area with more than 130 night raids. Fifteen of these delivered 24,500 tons of bombs.”
We feel this remarkable statement needs no comment from us. We are content to leave the judgement of its accuracy in the capable hands of our good friends in the United States AAF.’