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Bomber Harris a 'colonial warmonger'

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Bomber Harris a 'colonial warmonger'

Old 20th Jun 2020, 19:51
  #101 (permalink)  
 
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Jenns, you've made the decision to not share your age, but based on your writing I'm pretty sure you're much younger than I am (as well as most of the people who have posted on this thread).
You are making a classic mistake - you are applying 21st century morals and standards to what happened during WW II, without taking into account the actual circumstances of the time. Although born ten years after the war ended, I grew up surrounded by people who had lived through it and many that fought in it - not just my father. Many of my teachers and the parents of my neighborhood friends were WW II veterans - and I often heard their stories (and consider that most vets would not repeat the stories of their most traumatic experiences). It was quite simply a different time, and the war was fought by different rules (with the Axis often ignoring even the rules of the time).
One of my favorite books regarding the US submarine war in the Pacific is an autobiography by George Grider - "WAR FISH". In the introduction he talks about the morality of "unrestricted submarine warfare". Basically sinking - without warning - any ship flying the enemy's flag (aside from hospital and related ships - something that the Japanese knew and reportedly took advantage of). A generation earlier, "unrestricted submarine warfare" was considered by the Allies to be a war crime (the Germans actually abandoned the practice for a while due to the worldwide uproar - only reinstating when their plight became sufficiently dire). Yet during WW II all parties practiced it without reservation. Grider acknowledges that the crew on those merchant ships he sank were often civilians (and that many certainly died), but that those ships carried war materials - materials that were going to used to kill Americans and other Allies. So by sinking those Japanese merchant ships, he was saving American lives, and that was not just his job, it was the reason he was out there. That same philosophy was the justification for dropping the A-Bombs on Japan - getting Japan to surrender without an actual invasion undoubtedly saved hundreds of thousands of American casualties and millions of Japanese casualties. Prior to that, the US had tried precision bombing of Japan - and failed miserably. It was only after it became obvious that precision bombing wasn't going to work that the decision was made to resort to fire bombing - again with the aim of destroying the Japanese ability to fight and to bring the war to an end.
Equating the inevitable civilian casualties resulting from "unlimited warfare" to the systematic and intentional genocide of an entire race of people (not to mention millions of other so called 'undesirables') simply demonstrates how badly the modern education system has failed.
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Old 20th Jun 2020, 20:03
  #102 (permalink)  
 
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Hosea8:7: and Harris, and my RAFVR father "they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind".

The war was very simple: Germany started it, Japan pitched in, there was a struggle for survival, or slavery, and the Allies won it. The defeated Germany was virtually pardoned, and prospered, and is a beacon of civilisation today.

Anyone born after 1945 should join us crumblies in rejoicing that Bomber Command, to a man, were heroes in an old-fashioned sense: death in dreadful forms risked 30 times in a tour.
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Old 20th Jun 2020, 21:45
  #103 (permalink)  
 
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I was born in 1954,and my parents lived in London,and my maternal grandfather was in the London Fire Brigade during the war, so I do not not know anyone that fought in WW 2. I joined the R.A.F in 1971 as an Airframe Mechanic and was discharged after 12 years in 1984 with the rank of Corporal. I am proud of my service, and I learnt a lot of R.A.F. history, and as far as I am concerned "Bomber"Harris was only doing as Churchill requested, and I think that it is wrong that Harris was snubbed after the war.
The Bomber Command Memorial and the statue of Harris were long overdue,and every time I am in London I visit the Bomber Command Memorial and say Thank You.
Do not judge the past by todays standards,as someone once said :They speak a different language in the past",and I for one am glad that they do, do not judge history by todays standards.
This is my longest post on this forum,and I apologise if I have said to much.
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Old 20th Jun 2020, 22:49
  #104 (permalink)  
 
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Another long one...

In the knowledge I may be feeding a troll and at the risk of repeating much that has been said I will bite one last time.

The friend, whom I mentioned in a previous post, was unable to respond when the King asked him what he was going to do after the war. The thought he might survive had never occurred to him. Survival in a bomber was, he once told me, purely a matter of luck not skill. One continued flying until one’s number was up – he was very lucky; he completed three tours in heavy bombers.

Membership of this forum is intended to be for those of us who at some point in our lives agreed, mostly voluntarily, to risk our lives defence of our country and its allies in an aviation related capacity. We did so in the knowledge that we may called on to be part of a process that killed other human beings, for whom we had no personal animosity or of whom we had no knowledge. All others are guests of the mess and remain welcome if they follow its rules and they treat the members with respect and courtesy.

To accuse, therefore, the majority of us who support the preservation of the statue which in its essence commemorates others who lost their lives doing their lawful duty in a just cause of living in a filter bubble is nothing short of bizarre. Many of us have had long and varied careers since leaving service life. We know others are misinformed and prejudiced that is why we are prepared to argue so vehemently. There are a number of statues and memorials I personally find offensive – they should all remain standing. As we appear to be quoting scripture: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Those so confronted by Jesus reflected on this and all dropped their stones.

The economy of the Nazi state was almost entirely devoted to supporting the war effort therefore all its factories, infrastructure and civilians working in them were legitimate targets. The nature of technology at the time meant mass bombing was the only effective means of attack. The destruction of these was the objective, the collapse of civilian morale a hoped-for side effect. Unrealistic to those who had lived through the blitz.

To echo TDRacer the Nazi and Japanese War Criminals were war criminals because they 1) waged aggressive war and 2) committed acts against civilians in occupied territories and against prisoners of war that were prohibited by the Hague Conventions and the Geneva Convention (1929). In respect of the submariners of all nations, ASW technology had advanced to an extent that made complying with the letter of the law tantamount to suicide. This was tacitly acknowledged by the almost complete absence of prosecutions.

The laws of war have changed dramatically since the end of WW2. Even in these days of precision guided weapons there are civilian casualties. It should be remembered the laws of war are international agreements made by parties who do not want to limit their own ability to prosecute a successful military action. It is only the availability of precision weapons that made their use effectively compulsory.

OJ 72 on a lighter note, my late friend was a pre-war RAFC graduate. Early in the war he sometimes flew as the navigator before Navigators existed (which later they did sense having prevailed ).

To Clarify: Risking ones life in an aviation related capacity does not just mean flying or frontline - it includes all those service or civilianwho enable the flying to happen. For instance the casualties in RAF and FAA airfields in WW2 bear testament to this. What I was getting at was by becoming involved in any capacity one became a legitimate target in the event of conflict, however unlikely, even if one was making tea in a NAAFI wagon. Members to a greater or much lesser extent therefore share a common experience of being a legitimate target with the bomber crews. However, unlike most of them and conscripts like National Servicemen we became so voluntarily. By predicting the weather for an operation a met (wo)man is involved in the process that kills or injures an enemy and I would hope understands that.

Last edited by SLXOwft; 21st Jun 2020 at 11:47. Reason: Clarification
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Old 20th Jun 2020, 23:19
  #105 (permalink)  
 
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Quote:
Membership of this forum is intended to be for those of us who at some point in our lives agreed, mostly voluntarily, to risk our lives defence of our country and its allies in an aviation related capacity.
We did so in the knowledge that we may called on to be part of a process that killed other human beings, for whom we had no personal animosity or of whom we had no knowledge. All others are guests of the mess and remain welcome if they follow its rules and they treat the members with respect and courtesy.


With respect, with the greatest respect, I believe this to be wrong: there is a cohort on this forum who served the RAF devotedly for an entire career without taking the Queen's shilling, I for one believe that we are "Mess members" rather than guests. My own case is not exceptional: RAF Nicosia late in the EOKA period, ending with the first Greek/ Turk war 1964, RAF Guetersloh when Russia invaded Czecho, Rheindahlen twice, the first time in the depths of the Cold War. Plus RAF Stations Uxbridge, Leeming, Topcliffe, Acklington, Church Fenton, Finningley, Bawtry and Brize.

Beyond that, I totally agree with the contribution.
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Old 20th Jun 2020, 23:43
  #106 (permalink)  
 
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Does RAF Aldergrove count,spent a total of 26 weeks there,4 x 6 week,and 1 x 2 week detatchments,between 1978 and 1981,1st weekend in Aldergrove, Warrenpoint and the murder of Lord Mountbatten happened,was on 72 Sqdn at the time.
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 09:06
  #107 (permalink)  
 
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An apology

Langleybaston, mea culpa. I consider you a most distinguished member of the "mess". I was unclear, I of course include meteorologists and many others; that is what I meant by process, I nearly listed examples of "the backroom boys and girls who support the flying and maintain the equipment". Under the laws of war, during an international conflict, anyone who works in a role supporting the sharpend is a legitimate target be they a member of the armed forces or a civilian - they have therefore agreed to put their lives risk and the job he or she does is a cog in the machinery that strikes at an enemy. As Spitfire5054 reminds us there is also the terrorist threat which in may ways is the more likely and being in a service environment the risk is higher. My most sincere apologies to you and any other members I may have offended.

Last edited by SLXOwft; 21st Jun 2020 at 09:21.
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 09:42
  #108 (permalink)  
 
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SLXOwft, you have not offended me.
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 11:01
  #109 (permalink)  

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Membership of this forum is intended to be for those of us who at some point in our lives agreed, mostly voluntarily, to risk our lives defence of our country and its allies in an aviation related capacity. We did so in the knowledge that we may called on to be part of a process that killed other human beings, for whom we had no personal animosity or of whom we had no knowledge. All others are guests of the mess and remain welcome if they follow its rules and they treat the members with respect and courtesy.
Apparently not .........

Military AviationA forum for the professionals who fly military hardware. Also for the backroom boys and girls who support the flying and maintain the equipment, and without whom nothing would ever leave the ground. All armies, navies and air forces of the world equally welcome here.
Which would definitely include "weather guessers", no?
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 11:11
  #110 (permalink)  
 
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While I profoundly disagree with Jenns point of view, and reject it, in doing so I would acknowledge the point he makes about perception.
The worrying fact of the matter is that there is indeed a perception among many that Harris did something "immoral" / "wrong" / "bad" /etc. I am not sure that I would like to see the results of a straw poll of the great British public on the matter, for fear of the picture it would portray.
For my own part, while I would take issue with some of Harris's actions later in the war, I would not do so on moral grounds, nor would my overall view of his contributions be clouded.The current debacle highlights the fact that history is a living thing, and needs to be actively preserved and defended. Our current society seems to have a predisposition towards the negative and tearing down reputations, and this is never easier when the vast bulk of the protagonists are dead.
If any good is to come from the current situation, it can only be through a balanced evaluation of the facts in a form which is able to be digested by the general public. Learned works available on Amazon are all well and good, but what is needed is some good old fashioned propaganda.
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 12:41
  #111 (permalink)  

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I work/worked (pre-covid) in a military museum, and I'm amazed both there and in general life at the ignorance of the general public about history. if it wasn't the Romans or the Tudors, it didn't happen. Holocaust, BoB, D Day, Cuban Crisis, Berlin Wall...huh?
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 14:08
  #112 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by SLXOwft View Post
Langleybaston, mea culpa. I consider you a most distinguished member of the "mess". I was unclear, I of course include meteorologists and many others; that is what I meant by process, I nearly listed examples of "the backroom boys and girls who support the flying and maintain the equipment". Under the laws of war, during an international conflict, anyone who works in a role supporting the sharpend is a legitimate target be they a member of the armed forces or a civilian - they have therefore agreed to put their lives risk and the job he or she does is a cog in the machinery that strikes at an enemy. As Spitfire5054 reminds us there is also the terrorist threat which in may ways is the more likely and being in a service environment the risk is higher. My most sincere apologies to you and any other members I may have offended.
No worries, thank you. On our overseas tours we received dormant RAFVR commissions so we were definitely sharpish end. NBC training and the rest.
Gas! Gas! Gas!
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 14:47
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Originally Posted by Herod View Post
I work/worked (pre-covid) in a military museum, and I'm amazed both there and in general life at the ignorance of the general public about history. if it wasn't the Romans or the Tudors, it didn't happen. Holocaust, BoB, D Day, Cuban Crisis, Berlin Wall...huh?

I doubt 1 person in 50 in the UK has heard of Harris
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 16:36
  #114 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Asturias56 View Post
I doubt 1 person in 50 in the UK has heard of Harris
You'd be lucky with that ratio given how few of us now seem to have been born here!
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 20:00
  #115 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by langleybaston View Post
No worries, thank you. On our overseas tours we received dormant RAFVR commissions so we were definitely sharpish end. NBC training and the rest.
Gas! Gas! Gas!
Ahh! The taceval scenario. I'd forgotten how amusing it was watching familiar faces from the TV doing their best in NBC kit. For some reason the tannoy always seemed to burst out with "red, red, red, air raid red" right in the middle of met brief!
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 22:10
  #116 (permalink)  

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Asturias56
I doubt 1 person in 50 in the UK has heard of Harris
I'd agree there, but to have never heard of the Holocaust, or the Cuban Crisis. In '62 I was a 15 year-old, living in Australia (probably one of the places that might not have been bombed) and I remember it. I would expect my contempories and older who were living in UK would remember it very well.
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 22:42
  #117 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Paying Guest View Post
Ahh! The taceval scenario. I'd forgotten how amusing it was watching familiar faces from the TV doing their best in NBC kit. For some reason the tannoy always seemed to burst out with "red, red, red, air raid red" right in the middle of met brief!
I remember the German tacevals In the late 1960ís. We used to do four or five days running between Gutersloh and Belfast in a Britannia, replacing troops who were trying to keep the peace. We felt very superior, excused from the taceval and staying down town in an Hotel in Bielefeld.
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Old 22nd Jun 2020, 02:03
  #118 (permalink)  
 
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I find it somewhat odd that anyone would dispute that Arthur Harris held colonialist views. In his time we had an Empire! An Empire to which Harris gladly contributed to maintenance and expansion of. There's little question of him being an ardent supporter of the British Empire.

I am not going to go into the ethics of toppling statues, or whether any individual does or does not deserve one, it's not a debate that I'm interested in. Discussions of Harris raise some interesting points on ethics, Airpower and RAF History though.

In the 1920s Italian theorist Giulio Douhet wrote The Command of the Air, a classic text on air power that laid the foundations for strategic bombing. Overlapping with interwar ideas on "Total War" and the increasing role of civilian efforts and morale in warfare, Douhet argued that in future conflicts air power ought to be used to bomb the enemy's cities and civilian targets. Douhet openly wrote that his intention was for airpower to be used to cause such misery and suffering that the enemy population would rise up and demand that the state and the military end the war. In essence, Terror bombing.

During the interwar period Douhet's particularly brutal school of thought was influential. It's known that the Germans took an interest, as did Curtis LeMay and others in the USAAF, and more significantly Sr Hugh Trenchard, Sir John Salmond and Arthur "Bomber" Harris. These ideas were instrumental in the RAF's Air Policing of Iraq. After a round of defence cuts (an eternal problem it seems) the government of the day asked Trenchard for a cheaper option to control Britain's new imperial mandate in Mesopotamia. The solution the RAF arrived at was "Air policing", a policy which Air CommodoreLionel Charlton (who later resigned over the matter) described as using aerial bombs as a substitute for police truncheons. Crushing insurrection with the indiscriminate use of aerial bombs and poison gas against civilian homes. After an incident in which British aircraft reportedly machine gunned women and children, Churchill himself protested to the Chief of Air Staff over the brutality of these methods and called for the court martial of those responsible. This was decidedly not the RAF's finest hour.

Harris, as a squadron leader saw firsthand and participated in the Iraq air campaign. He was not it's architect, but nevertheless he was enthusiastic participant in one of the darker chapters of British Colonialism. In that sense if he were described as a "Colonail Warmonger" to me I'd find it hard to say that it was untrue. His wartime actions though are perhaps more complicated. As the commander of Bomber Command, Harris applied Douhet's ideas against Germany, effectively hoping to prove Douhet correct, that Germany's will to fight could be undermined by the destruction of cities, and that his bomber fleets could end the war on their own. To those who condemn the use of Douhet's "Total War" methods which indiscriminately target German civilian and soldier alike in Dresden (or later the use of the Bomb on Japanese cities) the reply is usually that the allies acted only to end the war, and that the ends - the liberation of Europe and the end of the war in the Far East - justified the means. Nevertheless the killing of civilians as an end in itself during the war is a crime that we more often associate with the Germans, and it is uncomfortable to think that this was essentially the RAF's strategy..

None of this diminishes in any way the heroic acts of allied airmen, or of the Bomber Command crews Harris commanded. Like any historical figure though he was complex, and as hard as it is we do have to reconcile with the fact that the Arthur Harris who was the hero of Bomber Command is the same Arthur Harris who was instrumental in the "Air Policing" in Iraq and the destruction of Dresden.
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Old 22nd Jun 2020, 02:16
  #119 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by SLXOwft View Post
Members to a greater or much lesser extent therefore share a common experience of being a legitimate target with the bomber crews. However, unlike most of them and conscripts like National Servicemen we became so voluntarily. By predicting the weather for an operation a met (wo)man is involved in the process that kills or injures an enemy and I would hope understands that.
Interesting that you make this point. According to Harris's philosophy, everyone - civilian or soldier alike - is an equal target for bomber crews.
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Old 22nd Jun 2020, 07:37
  #120 (permalink)  
 
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At the Towers in the late 60's our USAF course instructor introduced us to the Douhet philosophy. As one who had always presumed that it was originated by " Work Hard, Play Hard " (Trenchard the Bastard!) It was a revelation.
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