Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
The words "innocent" and "civilians" seem to be joined at the hip in any discussion of warfare. Surely the truth is far more complex?
Certainly I will concede that children are blameless, and can always be considered victims of war. But could munitions workers, shipbuilders, dockers, farm workers, railwaymen, financiers and politicians, all of whom would be civilians, be considered "innocent" in this context? In a total war like WW2, a large proportion of the civilian population, male and female, on both sides would have been actively involved in the war effort, and their contribution would have been as valuable in many cases as that of a member of the armed forces. Allowing for the fact that conscription was fairly universal among the combatant nations, and most men had no choice whether or not to fight, there is no moral case to separate the military from the civilian population when it comes to apportioning guilt or innocence.
I would rather be prosecuted by Pr00ne than defended by him!
While he is right that it is illegal to (i) direct attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities; and (ii) Intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects, that is, objects which are not military objectives……
......under International Law eg Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 17 July 1998 (Link: International Humanitarian Law - Statute of the ICC) and others, the UN and the Geneva convention make allowances for civilian deaths provided there is a concrete military advantage to hitting a target used for military purposes by an enemy and there is no other way of achieving the military aim. Moreover, every effort must be made to minimise civilian casualties wherever possible. The number of civilian casualties is where the moral choice must be made; the decision on acceptable levels of collateral damage or civilian deaths versus military advantage must be made at the appropriate level of delegated power, even if that is ultimately the PM and the cabinet.
I have paraphrased a lot but the bottom line is in certain circumstances, civilan deaths are acceptable and that, fortunately, International Law, the UN and the Geneva convention do not disagree with you wholeheartedly!
You miss my point. It is illegal, and also immoral, to deliberately TARGET civilians, under any circumstances.
This is unequivocal in so many differing arenas.
Under these CURRENT circumstances, the Bomber Command offensive would have been deemed an illegal act.
Of course there were numerous other activities during WW2 that would also be deemed illegal using current legislation.
Whilst being extremely uncomfortable with the morals that lay behind the strategic bomber offensive of WW2, in no way would I label ANY of the participants, from ground crew armourer right up to Harris, CAS, VCAS and Director of Bomber policy, as war criminals.
I do significantly better in my defence cases than I did in my long abandoned prosecution career!
I mean I don't mind the old 'pr00ne' having a go, he's free to aire his opinions but he did seem to grab hold of the wrong end of the stick with respect to my comments.
Yes - I know there were some atrocities which occurred between air crews but, on the whole and through both wars, they were remarkably few and, as mentioned, the prevailing culture was one of relative decency and respect for and between flyers.
No one wanted to be doing what they were doing and who can forget the many moving moments surrounding the Christmas Truce of 1914:
Through the week leading up to Christmas, parties of German and British soldiers began to exchange seasonal greetings and songs between their trenches; on occasion, the tension was reduced to the point that individuals would walk across to talk to their opposite numbers bearing gifts. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, many soldiers from both sides – as well as, to a lesser degree, from French units – independently ventured into "no man's land", where they mingled, exchanging food and souvenirs. As well as joint burial ceremonies, several meetings ended in carol-singing. Troops from both sides were also friendly enough to play several games of football with one another.
What I was trying to say was that in those days there was stronger evidence of gentlemanly conduct - something I fail to see in today's society with my wife only last week being insulted by a group of tracksuit wearing youths in the car park of our local Tesco's because she has a limp!
GC Father - ex-603 Sqn RAF Turnhouse WWII Grandfather - ex-Royal Regiment of Artilley WWI
Worth a watch just to see and hear the views of the people who actually took part rather than pontificated after the event. Respect to them all.
Some of the film clips were inappropriate and poorly chosen but general public would not have noticed and why should they after all. A little more coverage of the memorial unveiling would have been a nice touch.
A little too much attention by both ITV and the BBC over the last few days with regard to Dresden - that operation has to be seen in the overall context of the bombing campaign by the RAF and USAAF and not in isolation. Some commentators need to pay a visit to the old Coventry Catherdral before spouting forth imho.
Knowledge of the evil we were fighting is fading into the distance and from memory, it was not Germany, it was Nazism....where innocent words uttered by children at school would result in the early morning knock at the door.
It was 168 RAF aircrew who were removed from Fresnes prison in Paris as the allies approached, and they were shipped to Buchenwald, not Americans - then when "rescued" by the Luftwaffe they were sent to Stalag Luft III - as this was supposed to be the day before they were executed forgive my cynicism about the Luftwaffe just turning up by chance that one day early!!
Whilst the media still goes on about Dresden what they seem to have forgotten, or are not aware of, is that the USAAF were supposed to bomb first, but were prevented by bad weather, so we get the vilification for being there first!!
Someone asked the question earlier on what would be the highest number of missions flown by an individual in Bomber Command.
I don't know, but have read about Sqd Ldr Jimmy Malley who apparently flew on 127 operations! He was a navigator and started in Wellingtons in 1941 and did 35 trips. After instructing for a while, he then went to the Middle East on Liberators and did another 32 ops. He then went into training for Pathfinders and flew in Mosquitoes for the rest of his time and completed 53 missions in that role until near the end of the war.
I know that doesn't add up to 127 so he must have done the other odd op here and there.
Anyone else got any idea who flew on the most ops. I suppose if you flew all your ops in the European theatre it would be harder to achieve big totals? Although I am sure the Middle East was no picnic. They would have to be incredibly lucky to even get past the first 30, particularly in 1942-43 period.
Lamason was amongst a group of 168 allied airmen from Great Britain, United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Jamaica
So true to form the Nazis incarcerated to die without fear or favour. Thank you for correcting me. It was inexcusable to airbrush, albeit unconsciously, Sqn Ldr Phil Lamason DFC & bar, RNZAF, from history. I can only weakly plead that I had read a somewhat partisan US account of what I suppose was the same incident, and recalled that in my previous post. Doubly inexcusable because only very recently Samuel posted here reminding us of Lamason's courageous leadership. I still think that it makes my point though. Having succeeded in alerting the Luftwaffe, they did indeed turn up and arranged the transfer of these Allied Airmen into their custody. This was despite
their documents were stamped with the acronym "DIKAL" (Darf in kein anderes Lager), or "not to be transferred to another camp".
seven days before their scheduled execution, 156 of the 168 airmen, including Lamason, were transferred from Buchenwald to Stalag Luft III by the Luftwaffe
More should be known about Lamason (not least of all by me!) and about this incident. It encapsulates all the virtues and all the evils of WWII precisely. Where virtue shone it should be celebrated, no matter from whence it came.
In my view, total war is just that. Nobody is spared the horrors of it, My mum came home from work to find the street demolished! My dad, on returning to Portsmouth from the Atlantic was pulling bodies, women and kids, from bombed houses. Coming back to S. London in '44 thinking the bombing was over, my mum,sister and me then spent nights, in an air raid shelter listening to V1's going overhead. They, like the V2's, didn't give a toss who was below. My experience wasn't unique, it was repeated thousands and thousands of times over. WWII was not about armed forces fighting armed forces. It was one civilisation at war with another civilisation and unfortunately, that includes everyone. I have difficulty trying to comprehend why some people do not understand and accept that.
We should all have nothing but unquestionable respect and admiration for the crews of Bomber Command for what they did. No bloody 'yes but' about it!
I would like to pick up on something Charliegolf said.
"It's about a bunch of really ordinary old blokes, playing down their extraordinary bravery."
This to me rings very true, a few years back I was involved in Project Propellor, a day when those of us with light aircraft would fly aircrew from WW2 to an event at an airfield somewhere in the UK.
All these guys seemed so ordinary when you first met them but as you got to talking to them they would reveal lnccidents as pure fact that struck me as requiring pure courage, for them at the time the incidents were ordinary as it was what was happening to all their contemporarys.
It is the very ordinaryness of these guys who were put in a position of extreme danger and continued night after night that gets my total respect.
(Oh if Andy the AG is reading this I have to say there is nothing ordinary about your ability to drink gin! )