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The official history of the final year of the strategic air offensive against Germany. Contains an assessment of the controversial bombing of Dresden and accounts of the clashes among the allied air chiefs over their aims.
This, the third in the four volumes of the British Official History of the Second World War dealing with Bomber Command's air offensive against Germany, covers the final year of the offensive: from April1944 to May 1945. It is a story of growing allied strength and technical effectiveness. In July 1944, more than 5,000 RAF and USAF bombers were raining down bombs on Germany from their bases in Britain and Italy. In March 1944, the peak month, the RAF alone dropped more than 67,000 tons of bombs, and the Allies between them more than 130,000 tons. Yet all this was achieved against a background of continued controversy among the Allied air chiefs over the purpose of the bombing . The old squabbles over whether precision or general area bombing should be the main aim re-opened now that the allies had the capacity to do either, both at night and in daylight. In addition the allied offensive was, from early 1944 onwards, increasingly subjected to the needs of ‘Operation Overlord' - the invasion of German-occupied Europe. As well as pounding the industrial heart of Germany to achive air superiority; disruption of German production and a slump in German civilian morale; the RAF and USAF were expected to prepare for, and subsequently support, the invasion. Despite this diversion, as Bomber Command switched to devastating the French railway system, relentless attacks on Germany went on - particulalry on oil production. But the head of Bomber Command, Sir Arthur Harris, continued to insist on the primacy of area bombing of German cities, in the teeth of growing doubts among Sir Charles Portal's Air Staff, and in October 1944, write the authors, ‘the strategic air offensive was resumed with unprecedented violence'. But the unresolved differences between Portal, Harris, and Air Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, who favoured attacking enemy communications above all, remained, say the authors ‘a tragic deadlock'. Probably the darkest shadow hanging over the final months of the air offensive, however, was the massive raid on Dresden in Februrary 1944. In this attack, made by the RAF by night and the USAF by day, many thousands of civilians died and the city centre was totally razed. Dresden was, and remains, hugely controversial, and was even criticised by Churchill, although, as the authors point out: ‘it was he himself who contributed much of the incentive to carry it out'. Despite such clashes and controversies however, as the authors insist, the actual operations were ‘an undoubted triumph' and the war in Europe ended with Harris's aim achieved: a devastated Germany with her industrial productivity destroyed and the centres of her cities in ruins. With 14 maps and 29 photographs.

Product Code: 7513
Author: Sir Charles Webster and Noble Frankland
ISBN: 9781845743499
Format: 2006 N&M Press reprint SB.
Shipping Time: Usually despatched within 2-5 Days
Our Price: £28.00  

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