RAF Bomber Command

RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF's bomber forces from 1936 to 1968. Along with the United States Army Air Forces, it played the central role in the strategic bombing of Germany in World War II. From 1942 onward, the British bombing campaign against Germany became less restrictive and increasingly targeted industrial sites and the civilian manpower base essential for German war production. In total 364,514 operational sorties were flown, 1,030,500 tons of bombs were dropped and 8,325 aircraft lost in action. Bomber Command crews also suffered a high casualty rate: 55,573 were killed out of a total of 125,000 aircrew, a 44.4% death rate. A further 8,403 men were wounded in action, and 9,838 became prisoners of war.

Bomber Command stood at the peak of its post-war military power in the 1960s, the V bombers holding the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent and a supplemental force of Canberra light bombers.

In August 2006, a memorial was unveiled at Lincoln Cathedral.[2] A memorial in Green Park in London was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 June 2012 to highlight the price paid by the aircrews.[3]

Bomber Command
Bomber600
Active14 July 1936–1968
CountryUnited Kingdom
BranchRoyal Air Force
RoleStrategic bombing
Headquarters1936–1940: RAF Uxbridge
1940–1968: RAF High Wycombe
Motto(s)Strike Hard Strike Sure[1]
EngagementsSecond World War
Battle honoursBerlin 1940–1945
Fortress Europe 1940–1944
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Air Marshal Charles Portal
Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris
Aircraft flown
Bomber1939: Battle, Blenheim, Hampden, Wellesley, Wellington, Whitley.

1942: Manchester, Stirling, Halifax, Lancaster, Mosquito.

1945: Lincoln

1950: Washington B.1

1951: Canberra.

1955: Vickers Valiant

1956: Avro Vulcan

1958: Handley Page Victor.

Background

At the time of the formation of Bomber Command in 1936, Giulio Douhet's slogan "the bomber will always get through" was popular, and figures like Stanley Baldwin cited it. Until advances in radar technology in the late 1930s, this statement was effectively true. Attacking bombers could not be detected early enough to assemble fighters fast enough to prevent them reaching their targets. Some damage might be done to the bombers by AA guns, and by fighters as the bombers returned to base, but that was not as effective as a proper defence. Consequently, the early conception of Bomber Command was as an entity that threatened the enemy with utter destruction, and thus prevented war.

In 1936, Germany's increasing air power was feared by British government planners who commonly overestimated its size, reach and hitting power. Planners used estimates of up to 72 British deaths per tonne of bombs dropped, though this figure was grossly exaggerated. As well, the planners did not know that German bombing aircraft of the day (not quite 300 Junkers Ju 52 medium bombers) did not have the range to reach the UK with a load of bombs and return to the mainland. British air officers did nothing to correct these perceptions because they could see the usefulness of having a strong bombing arm.[4]

Early years of the Second World War

At the start of the Second World War in 1939, Bomber Command faced four problems. The first was lack of size; Bomber Command was not large enough effectively to operate as an independent strategic force. The second was rules of engagement; at the start of the war, the targets allocated to Bomber Command were not wide enough in scope. The third problem was the Command's lack of technology; specifically radio or radar derived navigational aids to allow accurate target location at night or through cloud. (In 1938, E. G. "Taffy" Bowen proposed using ASV radar for navigation, only to have Bomber Command disclaim need for it, saying the sextant was sufficient.[5] ) The fourth problem was the limited accuracy of bombing, especially from high level, even when the target could be seen by the bomb aimer.

When the war began on 1 September 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the neutral United States, issued an appeal to the major belligerents to confine their air raids to military targets.[6] The French and British agreed to abide by the request, provided "that these same rules of warfare will be scrupulously observed by all of their opponents".[7] British policy was to restrict bombing to military targets and infrastructure, such as ports and railways which were of military importance. While acknowledging that bombing Germany would cause civilian casualties, the British government renounced deliberate bombing of civilian property (outside combat zones) as a military tactic.[8] The British abandoned this policy at the end of the "Phoney War", or Sitzkrieg, on 15 May 1940, one day after the Rotterdam Blitz.

British WW2 medium bombers comparison
Scale comparison diagram of the trio of British twin-engined medium bombers at the outbreak of the Second World War; the Whitley (pink), the Vickers Wellington (blue) and the Handley Page Hampden (yellow)

The British government did not want to violate its agreement by attacking civilian targets outside combat zones and the French were even more concerned lest Bomber Command operations provoke a German bombing attack on France. Since the Armée de l'Air had few modern fighters and no defence network comparable to the British Chain Home radar stations, this left France powerless before the threat of a German bombing attack. The final problem was lack of adequate aircraft. The Bomber Command workhorses at the start of the war, the Vickers Wellington, Armstrong Whitworth Whitley and Handley Page Hampden/Hereford, had been designed as tactical-support medium bombers and none of them had enough range or ordnance capacity for anything more than a limited strategic offensive.

Bomber Command became even smaller after the declaration of war. No. 1 Group, with its squadrons of Fairey Battles, left for France to form the Advanced Air Striking Force. This action had two aims: to give the British Expeditionary Force some air-striking power and to allow the Battles to operate against German targets, since they lacked the range to do so from British airfields.

The Phoney War mainly affected the army; to an extent, Bomber Command too saw little combat during the first few months of hostilities. Bomber Command flew many operational missions and lost aircraft but it did virtually no damage to the Germans. Most sorties either failed to find their targets, or were leaflet-dropping missions (the first flights by RAF bombers over the German homeland were only to drop propaganda leaflets at night).[9]

In May 1940, some of the Advanced Air Striking Force was caught on the ground by German air attacks on their airfields at the opening of the invasion of France. The remainder of the Battles proved to be horrendously vulnerable to enemy fire. Many times, Battles would set out to attack and be almost wiped out in the process. Due to French paranoia about being attacked by German aircraft during the Phoney War, the Battle force had actually trained over German airspace at night.

Following the Rotterdam Blitz of 14 May, RAF Bomber Command was authorized to attack German targets east of the Rhine on 15 May; the Air Ministry authorized Air Marshal Charles Portal to attack targets in the Ruhr, including oil plants and other civilian industrial targets which aided the German war effort, such as blast furnaces (which were visible at night).[10][11] The first attack took place on the night of 15/16 May, with 96 bombers setting off to attack targets east of the Rhine, 78 of which were against oil targets. Of these, only 24 claimed to have found their targets.[12]

Bomber Command itself soon fully joined in the action; in the Battle of Britain, Bomber Command was assigned to bomb invasion barges and fleets assembling in the Channel ports. This was much less public than the battles of the Spitfires and Hurricanes of RAF Fighter Command but still vital and dangerous work. From July 1940 to the end of the year, Bomber Command lost nearly 330 aircraft and over 1,400 aircrew killed, missing or captured.

Bomber Command was also indirectly responsible, in part at least, for the switch of Luftwaffe attention away from Fighter Command to bombing civilian targets. A German bomber on a raid got lost due to poor navigation and bombed London. Prime Minister Winston Churchill consequently ordered a retaliatory raid on the German capital of Berlin. The damage caused was minor but the raid sent Hitler into a rage. He ordered the Luftwaffe to level British cities, thus precipitating the Blitz.[13]

Like the United States Army Air Forces later in the war, Bomber Command had first concentrated on a doctrine of "precision" bombing in daylight. When the German defences inflicted costly defeats on British raids late 1939, a switch to night bombing was forced upon the Command. The problems of enemy defences were then replaced with the problems of night navigation and target-finding. It was common in the early years of the war for bombers relying on dead reckoning navigation to miss entire cities. Surveys of bombing photographs and other sources published during August 1941, indicated that fewer than one bomb in ten fell within 5 miles (8.0 km) of its intended target. One of the most urgent problems of the Command was thus to develop navigational aids.

Organisation

Bomber Command comprised a number of Groups. It began the war with Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Groups. No. 1 Group was soon sent to France and then returned to Bomber Command control after the evacuation of France. No. 2 Group consisted of light and medium bombers who, although operating both by day and night, remained part of Bomber Command until 1943, when it was removed to the control of Second Tactical Air Force, to form the light bomber component of that command. Bomber Command also gained two new groups during the war: the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) squadrons were organised into No. 6 Group and the Pathfinder Force was expanded to form No. 8 (Pathfinder) Group from existing squadrons.

Many squadrons and personnel from Commonwealth and other European countries flew in Bomber Command. No. 6 Group, which was activated on 1 January 1943, was unique among Bomber Command groups, in that it was not an RAF unit; it was a Canadian unit attached to Bomber Command. At its peak strength, 6 Group consisted of 14 operational RCAF bomber squadrons and 15 squadrons served with the group.[14][15] No. 8 Group, also known as the Pathfinder Force, was activated on 15 August 1942. It was a critical part of solving the navigational and aiming problems experienced. Bomber Command solved its navigational problems using two methods. One was the use of a range of increasingly sophisticated electronic aids to navigation and the other was the use of specialist Pathfinders. The technical aids to navigation took two forms. One was external radio navigation aids, as exemplified by Gee and the later highly accurate Oboe systems. The other was the centimetric navigation equipment H2S radar carried in the bombers. The Pathfinders were a group of elite, specially trained and experienced crews who flew ahead and with the main bombing forces and marked the targets with flares and special marker-bombs. No. 8 Group controlled the Pathfinder squadrons.

RAF Master Slave Bombing Photo
A photograph taken during a typical RAF night attack with Avro Lancasters far below

Strategic bombing 1942–1945

British WW2 bombers comparison
Diagram comparing the Stirling (yellow) with its contemporaries; the Avro Lancaster (blue) and the Handley Page Halifax (pink)

In 1941, the Butt Report revealed the extent of bombing inaccuracy: Churchill noted that "this is a very serious paper and seems to require urgent attention".[16] The Area Bombing Directive of 14 February 1942 ordered Bomber Command to target German industrial areas and the "morale of...the industrial workers". The directive also reversed the order of the previous year instructing Bomber Command to conserve its forces – this resulted in a large campaign of area bombardment against the Ruhr area. Professor Frederick Lindemann's "de-housing" paper of March identified the expected effectiveness of attacks on residential and general industrial areas of cities. The aerial bombing of cities such as the Operation Millennium raid on Cologne continued throughout the rest of the war, culminating in the controversial bombing of Dresden in 1945.

Wesel 1945
97 percent of Wesel was destroyed before it was taken by Allied troops.

In 1942, the main workhorse-aircraft of the later part of the war came into service. The Halifax and Lancaster made up the backbone of the Command – they had a longer range, higher speed and much greater bomb load than earlier aircraft. Stirling and Wellington bombers were not taken out of service, but used on less demanding tasks such as mine-laying. The classic aircraft of the Pathfinders, the de Havilland Mosquito, also made its appearance. By 25 July 1943, the Bomber Command headquarters had come to occupy "a substantial set of red brick buildings, hidden in the middle of a forest on top of a hill in the English county of Buckinghamshire."[17]

An offensive against the Rhine-Ruhr area ("Happy Valley" to aircrew) began on the night of 5/6 March 1943, with the first raid of the Battle of the Ruhr on Essen.[18][19][20] The bombers destroyed 160 acres (0.65 km2) of the city and hit 53 Krupps buildings. The Battle of Hamburg in mid-1943 was one of the most successful Bomber Command operations, although Harris' extension of the offensive into the Battle of Berlin failed to destroy the capital and cost his force more than 1,000 crews in the winter of 1943–44. In August 1943, Operation Hydra, the bombing of the Peenemünde V-2 rocket facility opened the secondary Operation Crossbow campaign against long-range weapons.

By April 1944, Harris was forced to reduce his strategic offensive as the bomber force was directed (much to his annoyance) to tactical and transport targets in France in support of the invasion of Normandy. The transport offensive proved highly effective. By late 1944, bombing such as Operation Hurricane (to demonstrate the capabilities of the combined British and US bomber forces), competed against the German defences. Bomber Command was now capable of putting 1,000 aircraft over a target without extraordinary efforts. Within 24 hours of Operation Hurricane, the RAF dropped about 10,000 tonnes of bombs on Duisburg and Brunswick, the greatest bomb load dropped in a day during the Second World War.

The peak of Bomber Command operations occurred in the raids of March 1945, when its squadrons dropped the greatest weight of bombs for any month in the war. Wesel in the Rhineland, bombed on 16, 17, 18 and 19 February, was bombed again on 23 March, leaving the city "97 percent destroyed". The last raid on Berlin took place on the night of 21/22 April, when 76 Mosquitos made six attacks just before Soviet forces entered the city centre. By this point, most RAF bombing operations were for the purpose of providing tactical support. The last major strategic raid was the destruction of the oil refinery at Vallø (Tønsberg) in southern Norway by 107 Lancasters, on the night of 25/26 April.

Once the surrender of Germany had occurred, plans were made to send a "Very Long Range Bomber Force" known as Tiger Force to participate in the Pacific war against Japan. Made up of about 30 British Commonwealth heavy bomber squadrons, a reduction of the original plan of about 1,000 aircraft, the British bombing component was intended to be based on Okinawa. Bomber Command groups were re-organised for Operation Downfall but the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and the Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki occurred before the force had been transferred to the Pacific.

In Europe Bomber Command's final operation was to fly released Allied prisoners of war home to Britain in Operation Exodus.[21]

Casualties

Dresden Lancasters-900px
A diagram illustrating the actual number of aircraft used in the 13/14 February 1945 RAF night attack on Dresden with 753 Avro Lancasters in two waves, with nine Mosquitoes providing target marking

Allied bombing of German cities killed between 305,000 and 600,000 civilians.[note 1] One of the most controversial aspects of Bomber Command during World War II was the area bombing of cities. Until 1942 navigational technology did not allow for any more precise targeting than at best a district of a town or city by night bombing. All large German cities contained important industrial districts and so were considered legitimate targets by the Allies. New methods were introduced to create "firestorms". The most destructive raids in terms of casualties were those on Hamburg (45,000 dead) in 1943 and Dresden (25,000–35,000 dead)[22][23]) in 1945. Each caused a firestorm and left tens of thousands dead. Other large raids on German cities which resulted in high civil casualties were Darmstadt (12,300 dead), Pforzheim (17,600 dead)[24] and Kassel (10,000 dead).

Regarding the legality of the campaign, in an article in the International Review of the Red Cross it was held that,

In examining these events [aerial area bombardment] in the light of international humanitarian law, it should be borne in mind that during the Second World War there was no agreement, treaty, convention or any other instrument governing the protection of the civilian population or civilian property, as the conventions then in force dealt only with the protection of the wounded and the sick on the battlefield and in naval warfare, hospital ships, the laws and customs of war and the protection of prisoners of war.[25]

Bomber Command crews also suffered an extremely high casualty rate: 55,573 killed out of a total of 125,000 aircrew (a 44.4 percent death rate), a further 8,403 were wounded in action and 9,838 became prisoners of war. This covered all Bomber Command operations including tactical support for ground operations and mining of sea lanes.[26]

A Bomber Command crew member had a worse chance of survival than an infantry officer in World War I; more people were killed serving in Bomber Command than in the Blitz, or the bombings of Hamburg or Dresden.[26] By comparison, the US Eighth Air Force, which flew daylight raids over Europe, had 350,000 aircrew during the war and suffered 26,000 killed and 23,000 POWs.[26] Of the RAF Bomber Command personnel killed during the war, 72 percent were British, 18 percent were Canadian, 7 percent were Australian and 3 percent were New Zealanders.[27]

Taking an example of 100 airmen:

  • 55 killed on operations or died as result of wounds
  • three injured (in varying levels of severity) on operations or active service
  • 12 taken prisoner of war (some wounded)
  • two shot down and evaded capture
  • 27 survived a tour of operations[28]

In total 364,514 operational sorties were flown, 1,030,500 tons of bombs were dropped and 8,325 aircraft lost in action.

Harris was advised by an Operational Research Section (ORS-BC) under a civilian, Basil Dickins, supported by a small team of mathematicians and scientists. ORS-BC (under Reuben Smeed) was concerned with analysing bomber losses. They were able to influence operations by identifying successful defensive tactics and equipment, though some of their more controversial advice (such as removing ineffectual turrets from bombers to increase speed) was ignored.[29]

The very high casualties suffered, give testimony to the dedication and courage of Bomber Command aircrew in carrying out their orders. Statistically there was little prospect of surviving a tour of 30 operations and by 1943, one in six expected to survive their first tour and one in forty would survive their second tour.[30] The overall loss rate for Bomber Command operations was 2.2 percent, but loss rates over Germany were significantly higher; from November 1943 – March 1944, losses averaged 5.1 percent.[31] The highest loss rate (11.8 percent) was incurred on the Nuremberg raid (30 March 1944).[32] The disparity in loss rates was reflected in the fact that, at times, Bomber Command considered making sorties over France only count as a third of an op towards the "tour" total and crews derisively referred to officers who only chose to fly on the less dangerous ops to France as "François".[33][34] The loss rates excluded aircraft crashing in the UK on return, even if the machine was a write off and there were crew casualties, which amounted to at least another 15 percent.[35] Losses in training were significant and some courses lost 25 percent of their intake before graduation, 5,327 men being killed in training from 1939–1945.[36]

"Balance sheet"

Bomber Command had an overwhelming commitment to the strategic bombing offensive against Germany, and it seems appropriate to judge its contribution to the Allied war-effort primarily in that context. The ostensible aim of the offensive, breaking the morale of the German working class, must be considered a failure. The scale and intensity of the offensive was an appalling trial to the German people and the Hamburg attacks, particularly, profoundly shook the Nazi leadership. However, on balance, the indiscriminate nature of the bombing and the heavy civilian casualties and damage stiffened German resistance to fight to the end. In any case as Sir Arthur Harris put it, the Germans living under a savage tyranny were "not allowed the luxury of morale".

Sir Arthur Harris himself believed that there was a relationship between tonnage dropped, city areas destroyed, and lost production. The effect of Bomber Command's attacks on industrial production is not so clear cut. The much better provided US survey was little concerned with the RAF area bombing campaign. It pointed to the great success of the USAAF's attacks on Germany's synthetic oil plants starting in the spring of 1944 – this had a crippling effect on German transportation and prevented the Luftwaffe from flying to anything like the order of battle that the aviation engine plants, parts and sub-assembly fabrication and final assembly manufacturing facilities; Luftwaffe training and logistics could have otherwise sustained. Further, in going for targets they knew the Germans must defend, the new American escort fighters were able to inflict crippling losses on the Luftwaffe's fighter force. However it should be pointed out that the RAF also made a great contribution to the oil offensive as its abilities to attack precision targets had greatly improved since the arrival of new navigation and target-finding instruments; by mid-1944 it was also mounting huge bombing raids in daylight.

Albert Speer, Hitler's Minister of Armaments, noted that the larger British bombs were much more destructive. 15 years after the war's end, Speer was unequivocal about the effect,

The real importance of the air war consisted in the fact that it opened a second front long before the invasion in Europe ... Defence against air attacks required the production of thousands of anti-aircraft guns, the stockpiling of tremendous quantities of ammunition all over the country, and holding in readiness hundreds of thousands of soldiers, who in addition had to stay in position by their guns, often totally inactive, for months at a time ... No one has yet seen that this was the greatest lost battle on the German side.

— Albert Speer (1959)[37][38]

In terms of production decrease resulting from the RAF area attacks, the US survey, based upon limited research, found that in 1943 it amounted to 9 percent and in 1944 to 17 percent. Relying on US gathered statistics, the British survey found that actual arms production decreases were a mere 3 percent for 1943, and 1 percent for 1944. However they did find decreases of 46.5 percent and 39 percent in the second half of 1943 and 1944 respectively in the metal processing industries. These losses resulted from the devastating series of raids the Command launched on the Ruhr Valley. A contrasting view was offered by Adam Tooze (2006) that by referring to contemporary sources rather than post-war accounts

there can be no doubt that the Battle of the Ruhr marked a turning point in the history of the German war economy ....[39]

and that in the first quarter of 1943 steel production fell by 200,000 tons, leading to cuts in the German ammunition production programme and a Zulieferungskrise (sub-components crisis). German aircraft output did not increase between July 1943 and March 1944.

Bomber command had stopped Speer's armaments miracle in its tracks.[39]

This apparent lack of success is accounted for in several ways. The German industrial economy was so strong, its industrial bases so widely spread, that it was a hopeless task to try and crush it by area bombing. Further, up until 1943 it is undoubtedly the case that Germany was not fully mobilised for war, Speer remarked that single shift factory working was commonplace, and so there was plenty of slack in the system. It has been argued that the RAF campaign placed a limit on German arms production. This may be true but it is also the case that the German forces did not run out of arms and ammunition and that it was manpower that was a key limiting factor, as well as the destruction of transport facilities and the fuel to move.

Some positive points should be made. The greatest contribution to winning the war made by Bomber Command was in the huge diversion of German resources into defending the homeland; this was very considerable indeed. By January 1943 some 1,000 Luftwaffe night fighters were committed to the defence of the Reich – mostly twin engined Bf 110 and Ju 88. Most critically, by September 1943, 8,876 of the deadly, dual purpose 88 mm guns were also defending the homeland with a further 25,000 light flak guns – 20/37 mm. Though the 88mm gun was an effective AA weapon, it was also a deadly destroyer of tanks, and lethal against advancing infantry. These weapons would have done much to augment German anti-tank defences on the Russian front.

To man these weapons the flak regiments in Germany required some 90,000 fit personnel, and a further 1 million were deployed in clearing up and repairing the vast bomb-damage caused by the RAF attacks. This diversion to defensive purposes of German arms and manpower was an enormous contribution made by RAF Bomber Command to winning the war. By 1944 the bombing offensive was costing Germany 30 percent of all artillery production, 20 percent of heavy shells, 33 percent of the output of the optical industry for sights and aiming devices and 50 percent of the country's electro-technical output which had to be diverted to the anti-aircraft role. From the British perspective, the RAF offensive made a great contribution in sustaining morale during the dark days of the war, especially during the bleak winter of 1941–42. It was the only means that Britain possessed of taking the war directly to the enemy at that time.

RAF Bomber Command had 19 Victoria Cross recipients.[40][note 2]

1946–1968

Bomber Command acquired B-29 Superfortresses – known to the RAF as Boeing Washingtons – to supplement the Avro Lincoln, a development of the Lancaster. The first jet bomber, the English Electric Canberra light bomber, became operational in 1951. Some Canberras remained in RAF service up to 2006 as photo-reconnaissance aircraft. The model proved an extremely successful aircraft; Britain exported it to many countries and licensed it for construction in the United States[41] and in Australia. The joint US-UK Project E was made nuclear weapons available to Bomber Command in an emergency, with the Canberras the first aircraft to benefit. The next jet bomber to enter service was the Vickers Valiant in 1955, the first of the V bombers.

The Air Ministry conceived of the V bombers as the replacement for the wartime Lancasters and Halifaxes. Three advanced aircraft were developed from 1946, along with the Short Sperrin fall-back design. Multiple designs were tried out because no one could predict which designs would be successful at the time. The V bombers became the backbone of the British nuclear forces and comprised the Valiant, Handley Page Victor (in service in 1958) and Avro Vulcan (1956).[42][43]

In 1956 Bomber Command faced its first operational test since the Second World War. The Egyptian Government nationalised the Suez Canal in July 1956, and British troops took part in an invasion along with French and Israeli forces. During the Suez Crisis, Britain deployed Bomber Command Canberras to Cyprus and Malta and Valiants to Malta. The Canberra performed well but the Valiant had problems, since it had only just been introduced into service. The Canberras proved vulnerable to attack by the Egyptian Air Force, which fortunately did not choose to attack the crowded airfields of Cyprus (RAF Akrotiri and RAF Nicosia holding nearly the whole RAF strike force, with a recently reactivated and poor-quality airfield taking much of the French force). Over 100 Bomber Command aircraft took part in operations against Egypt. By Second World War standards, the scale of attack was light.

Between 1959 and 1963, in addition to manned aircraft, Bomber Command also gained 60 Thor nuclear intermediate-range ballistic missiles dispersed to 20 RAF stations around Britain in a joint UK-US operation known as Project Emily. During the following twelve years, Bomber Command aircraft frequently deployed overseas to the Far East and Middle East. They served particularly as a deterrent to Sukarno's Indonesia during the Konfrontasi. A detachment of Canberras had a permanent base at Akrotiri in Cyprus in support of CENTO obligations.

Britain tested its first atomic bomb in 1952 and exploded its first hydrogen bomb in 1957. Operation Grapple saw Valiant bombers testing the dropping of hydrogen bombs over Christmas Island. Advances in electronic countermeasures were also applied to the V bombers over the same period and the remaining V bombers came into service in the late 1950s.[44] During the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962, Bomber Command aircraft maintained continuous strip alerts, ready to take off at a moment's notice, and the Thor missiles were maintained at advanced readiness. The Prime Minister did not disperse Bomber Command aircraft to satellite airfields, lest that be viewed as an aggressive step.

By the early 1960s doubts emerged about the ability of Bomber Command to pierce the defences of the Soviet Union. The shooting down of a U-2 spyplane in 1960 confirmed that the Soviet Union did have surface-to-air missiles capable of reaching the heights at which bombers operated. Since the Second World War the philosophy of bombing had involved going higher and faster. With the supersession of high and fast tactics, ultra-low-level attack was substituted. Bomber Command aircraft had not been designed for that kind of attack, and airframe fatigue increased. All Valiants were grounded in October 1964 and permanently withdrawn from service in January 1965. Low-level operations also reduced the lifespan of the Victors and Vulcans.

Bomber Command's other main function was to provide tanker aircraft to the RAF. The Valiant was the first bomber used as a tanker operationally. As high-level penetration declined as an attack technique, the Valiant saw more and more use as a tanker until the retirement of the type in 1965 due to the costs of remediating metal fatigue. With the Victor also unsuited to the low-level role six were converted to tankers to replace the Valiants, before the later conversion of the majority of Victors to tankers. The Vulcan also saw service as a tanker, but only in an improvised conversion during the Falklands War of 1982. Ironically, in the tanker role, the Victor not only outlived Bomber Command, but also all the other V bombers by nine years.

In a further attempt to make the operation of the bomber force safer, attempts were made to develop stand-off weapons, with which capability the bombers would not have to penetrate Soviet airspace. However, efforts to do so had only limited success. The first attempt involved the Blue Steel missile (in service: 1963–1970). It worked, but its ranse meant that bombers still had to enter Soviet airspace. Longer-range systems were developed, but failed and/or were cancelled. This fate befell the Mark 2 of the Blue Steel, its replacement, the American Skybolt ALBM and the ground-based Blue Streak programme.

However, attempts to develop a stand-off nuclear deterrent eventually succeeded. Britain procured American Polaris missiles and built Royal Navy submarines to carry them. The modern form of the British nuclear force was thus essentially reached. Royal Navy submarines relieved the RAF of the nuclear deterrent mission in 1969, but by that point, Bomber Command no longer existed.

RAF Fighter Command and Bomber Command merged in 1968 to form Strike Command. RAF Coastal Command followed in November 1969.

Bomber Command took time to attain full effectiveness in the Second World War, but with the development of better navigation and aircraft it proved highly destructive. The massed attacks of Bomber Command and the US Eighth Air Force compelled Germany to devote considerable resources to air defence instead of pursuing its primary war aims. Postwar, it carried Britain's nuclear deterrent through a difficult period.

Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief

At any one time several air officers served on the staff of Bomber Command and so the overall commander was known as the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, the most well-known being Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris. The Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief are listed below with the rank which they held whilst in post.

No. Picture Commanding-in-chief Took office Left office Time in office
1
Sir John Steel
Air Chief Marshal
Sir John Steel
(1877–1965)
14 July 193612 September 19371 year, 60 days
2
Sir Edgar Ludlow-Hewitt
Air Chief Marshal
Sir Edgar Ludlow-Hewitt
(1886–1973)
12 September 19373 April 19402 years, 204 days
3
Sir Charles Portal
Air Marshal
Sir Charles Portal
(1893–1971)
3 April 19405 October 1940185 days
4
Sir Richard Peirse
Air Marshal
Sir Richard Peirse
(1892–1970)
5 October 19408 January 19421 year, 95 days
Jack Baldwin
Air Vice Marshal
Jack Baldwin
(1892–1975)
Acting
8 January 194222 February 194245 days
5
Sir Arthur Harris
Air Chief Marshal
Sir Arthur Harris
(1892–1984)
22 February 194215 September 19453 years, 205 days
6
Sir Norman Bottomley
Air Marshal
Sir Norman Bottomley
(1891–1970)
15 September 194516 January 19471 year, 123 days
7
Sir Hugh Saunders
Air Marshal
Sir Hugh Saunders
(1894–1987)
16 January 19478 October 1947265 days
8
Sir Aubrey Ellwood
Air Marshal
Sir Aubrey Ellwood
(1897–1992)
8 October 19472 February 19502 years, 117 days
9
Sir Hugh Lloyd
Air Marshal
Sir Hugh Lloyd
(1894–1981)
2 February 19509 April 19533 years, 66 days
10
Sir George Mills
Air Marshal
Sir George Mills
(1902–1971)
9 April 195322 January 19562 years, 288 days
11
Sir Harry Broadhurst
Air Marshal
Sir Harry Broadhurst
(1905–1995)
22 January 195620 May 19593 years, 118 days
12
Sir Kenneth Cross
Air Marshal
Sir Kenneth Cross
(1911–2003)
20 May 19591 September 19634 years, 104 days
13
Sir John Grandy
Air Marshal
Sir John Grandy
(1913–2004)
1 September 196319 February 19651 year, 171 days
14
Sir Wallace Kyle
Air Marshal
Sir Wallace Kyle
(1910–1988)
19 February 196530 April 19683 years, 71 days

Battle honours

  • "Berlin 1940–1945": For bombardment of Berlin by aircraft of Bomber Command.
  • "Fortress Europe 1940–1944": For operations by aircraft based in the British Isles against targets in Germany, Italy and enemy-occupied Europe, from the fall of France to the invasion of Normandy.

Memorials

RAF Bomber Command Memorial, Green Park
The interior of the Bomber Command Memorial in London

Singer Robin Gibb led an effort to memorialize those who lost their lives during World War II and in April, 2011, it was announced that the £5.6 million needed to build the memorial had been raised.[45] The foundation stone of the Bomber Command Memorial for the crews of Bomber Command was laid in Green Park, London on 4 May 2011.[46]

The memorial was designed by architect Liam O'Connor, who was also responsible for the design and construction of the Commonwealth Memorial Gates on Constitution Hill, near Buckingham Palace. Sculptor Philip Jackson created the large bronze sculpture which stands within the memorial. It consists of seven figures 9 feet (3 m) tall, and represents the aircrew of a Bomber Command heavy bomber.[47] Jackson described the sculpture as capturing "the moment when they get off the aircraft and they've dumped all their heavy kit onto the ground."[48] The memorial was dedicated and unveiled on 28 June 2012 by Queen Elizabeth II.[48]

In October 2015 a Memorial and Walls of Names were unveiled in Lincoln at the International Bomber Command Centre.[49]

See also

References

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ German deaths by aerial bombardment (It is not clear if these totals include Austrians, of whom about 24,000 were killed (see Austrian Press & Information Service, Washington, D.C Archived 20 April 2006 at the Wayback Machine) and other territories in the Third Reich but not in modern Germany.)
  2. ^ Seven of the VCs were to members of Dominion air forces and nine were posthumous. Two personnel from the same aircrew received the VC as a result of their actions on 12 May 1940. With the Germans breaking through, 12 Squadron, flying obsolete Fairey Battles, was ordered to attack two bridges on the Albert Canal near Maastricht. The whole squadron volunteered and five aircraft, all that were available, took off. Four Battles were shot down by flak and German fighters, while the fifth staggered back to base heavily damaged. One of the four shot down was piloted by Flying Officer Donald Garland, who dived from 6,000 feet (1,800 m) in the face of intense fire, and succeeded in destroying one of the bridges. He and his observer, Sgt Tom Gray, both received the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross.

Citations

  1. ^ Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 222. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
  2. ^ Smith, David (20 August 2006). "RAF tribute stirs up 'war crime' storm". The Observer. London. Retrieved 3 July 2008.
  3. ^ Rayner, Gordon (9 March 2012). "Lord Ashcroft donates final £1 million for Bomber Command Memorial". The Telegraph. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  4. ^ Boyne, Walter J. (2012). Clash of Wings: World War II in the Air. Simon and Schuster. pp. 19–20. ISBN 9781451685138.
  5. ^ Judkins, Phil. "Making Vision into Power", International Journal of Engineering and Technology, Vol 82, No 1 (January 2012), p.114
  6. ^ President Franklin D. Roosevelt Appeal against aerial bombardment of civilian populations, 1 September 1939
  7. ^ Taylor (2005), Chapter "Call Me Meier", p. 105
  8. ^ A.C. Grayling (Bloomsbury 2006), p. 24.
  9. ^ Bleetham, Alex. "Creation of the Bomber Force 1936–1940". Retrieved 3 July 2008.
  10. ^ Hastings 1979, p. 6
  11. ^ Taylor References Chapter "Call Me Meier", Page 111
  12. ^ Richards 1953, p.124.
  13. ^ Richards, Dennis. "The Royal Air Force 1939–1945 Volume I The Fight at Odds". ibiblio.org. p. 182. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  14. ^ Milberry, Larry (General Editor). Sixty Years – The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924–1984. Toronto: Canav Books, 1984. (p. 166)
  15. ^ Dunmore, Spencer and Carter, William. Reap the Whirlwind: The Untold Story of 6 Group, Canada's Bomber Force of World War II. Toronto: McLelland and Stewart Inc., 1991.(p. 375).
  16. ^ Davis, Rob. "Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command 1939–1945". Archived from the original on 15 June 2008. Retrieved 3 July 2008.
  17. ^ Part I: A Failure of Intelligence Technology Review, 1 November 2006
  18. ^ Bishop, Patrick. Bomber Boys – Fighting Back 1940–1945. ISBN 978-0-00-719215-1.
  19. ^ Blank, Ralf. "Battle of the Ruhr 1939–1945". Retrieved 3 July 2008.
  20. ^ "Campaign Diary". Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary. UK Crown. Archived from the original on 15 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-24.
  21. ^ "The long trip home". RAF Museum. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  22. ^ Bergander, Götz, Dresden im Luftkrieg: Vorgeschichte-Zerstörung-Folgen (Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, Munich, 1977
  23. ^ The Bombing of Dresden in 1945:Falsification of statistics, by Richard J. Evans, Professor of Modern History, University of Cambridge, a detailed critique of tendentious material in David Irving's book.
  24. ^ Pforzheim – 23 February 1945 by Christian Groh. In German. http://babelfish.altavista.com translates the web page from German into a form of English which can be used to verify facts.
  25. ^ International Review of the Red Cross no 323, p.347-363 The Law of Air Warfare (1998)
  26. ^ a b c Roberts, Andrew (March 2007). "High courage on the axe-edge of war". The Times. London.
  27. ^ Robertson, John (1984). Australia Goes to War. Australia: Doubleday. p. 216. ISBN 0-86824-155-5.
  28. ^ Nor the Years Condemn by Rob Davies Archived 15 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ A Failure of Intelligence Freeman Dyson, MIT Technology Review
  30. ^ Falconer, Jonathan Bomber Command Handbook 1939–1945 p.51
  31. ^ Hastings 1979, p. 334
  32. ^ Hastings 1979, p. 343
  33. ^ Otter, p.262
  34. ^ Hastings 1979, p. 275
  35. ^ Hastings 1979, p. 209 and pp. 460–461
  36. ^ Hastings 1979, p. 173
  37. ^ Staff Air Commodore Henry Probert (obituary), The Times, 14 February 2008
  38. ^ Momyer, William M. Air power in three wars, DIANE Publishing, ISBN 1-4289-9396-7. pp. 190–192. This book contains a full quotation of the two paragraphs quoted here, and cites the source as Albert Speer. Spandau, The Secret Diaries, New York: Macmillan and Company, 1976, pp. 339–340
  39. ^ a b Tooze, p. 598.
  40. ^ Cosgrove, Troy. "Bomber Command's 19 Victoria Cross Winners". Archived from the original on 20 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
  41. ^ Halpenny, Bruce Barrymore (2005). English Electric Canberra: The History and Development of a Classic Jet. Pen & Sword. ISBN 978-1-84415-242-1.
  42. ^ Barry Jones (2000). V-bombers: Valiant, Vulcan and Victor. Crowood. pp. 13–15.
  43. ^ Maurice Kirby and M. T. Godwin. "V is for vulnerable: operational research and the v-bombers." Defence Studies (2009) 9#1 pp. 168–187.
  44. ^ Brookes, Andrew (2009). Vulcan Units of the Cold War. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84603-297-4.
  45. ^ News Archive Brothers Gibb
  46. ^ Bomber Command Memorial foundation stone laid Defence News, 5 May 2011
  47. ^ "A fitting tribute to the young men of raf bomber command" Archived 29 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine. (2012). Bomber Command Association. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  48. ^ a b "Queen unveils RAF Bomber Command memorial". (2012). BBC News Online. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  49. ^ "International Bomber Command Centre". Retrieved 3 February 2016.

Bibliography

  • Bishop, Patrick. Bomber Boys – Fighting Back 1940–1945. ISBN 978-0-00-719215-1.
  • Carter, Ian. Bomber Command 1939–1945. ISBN 978-0-7110-2699-5.
  • Don Charlwood No Moon Tonight. ISBN 0-907579-06-X.
  • Childers, Thomas. "'Facilis descensus averni est': The Allied Bombing of Germany and the Issue of German Suffering", Central European History Vol. 38, No. 1 (2005), pp. 75–105 in JSTOR
  • Garrett, Stephen A. Ethics and Airpower in World War II: The British Bombing of German Cities (1993)
  • Halpenny, Bruce Barrymore. Action Stations: Military Airfields of Yorkshire v. 4. ISBN 978-0-85059-532-1.
  • Falconer, Jonathan. Bomber Command Handbook 1939–1945. Sutton Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-7509-3171-X.
  • Grayling, A. C. (2006). Among the Dead Cities. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-0-7475-7671-6.
  • Halpenny, Bruce Barrymore. Action Stations: Wartime Military Airfields of Lincolnshire and the East Midlands v. 2. ISBN 978-0-85059-484-3.
  • Halpenny, Bruce Barrymore. Bomber Aircrew of World War II: True Stories of Frontline Air Combat. ISBN 978-1-84415-066-3.
  • Halpenny, Bruce Barrymore. English Electric Canberra: The History and Development of a Classic Jet. Pen & Sword, 2005. ISBN 978-1-84415-242-1.
  • Halpenny, Bruce Barrymore. To Shatter the Sky: Bomber Airfield at War. ISBN 978-0-85059-678-6.
  • Harris, Arthur. Despatch on War Operations (Cass Studies in Air Power). ISBN 978-0-7146-4692-3.
  • Hastings, Max (1979). RAF Bomber Command. Pan Books. ISBN 0-330-39204-2
  • Koch, H. W. "The Strategic Air Offensive against Germany: the Early Phase, May–September 1940." The Historical Journal, 34 (March 1991) pp 117–41. online at JSTOR
  • Lammers, Stephen E. "William Temple and the bombing of Germany: an Exploration in the Just War Tradition." Journal of Religious Ethics, 19 (Spring 1991): 71–93. Explains how the Archbishop of Canterbury justified strategic bombing.
  • Messenger, Charles. Bomber Harris and the Strategic Bombing Offensive, 1939–1945. London: Arms and Armour, 1984. ISBN 978-0-85368-677-4.
  • Middlebrook, Martin. The Peenemünde Raid: The Night of 17–18 August 1943. New York: Bobs-Merrill, 1982.
  • Neufeld, Michael J. The Rocket and the Reich: Peenemünde and the Coming of the Ballistic Missile Era. New York: The Free Press, 1995.
  • Otter, Patrick. Yorkshire Airfields Countryside Books (1998) ISBN 978-1-85306-542-2
  • Overy. Richard. "The Means to Victory: Bombs and Bombing" in Overy, Why the Allies Won (1995), pp 101–33
  • Peden, Murray. A Thousand Shall Fall. ISBN 0-7737-5967-0.
  • Richards, Denis (1953). Royal Air Force 1939–1945:Volume I The Fight at Odds. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office.
  • Smith, Malcolm. "The Allied Air Offensive", Journal of Strategic Studies 13 (Mar 1990) 67–83
  • Taylor, Frederick. (2005) Dresden: Tuesday, 13 February 1945. Bloomsbury. ISBN 0-7475-7084-1
  • Terraine, John. A Time for Courage: The Royal Air Force in the European War, 1939–1945 (1985)
  • Tooze, Adam. The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy Penguin (2007) ISBN 978-0-14-100348-1
  • Verrier, Anthony. The Bomber Offensive. London: Batsford, 1968.
  • Webster, Charles and Noble Frankland, The Strategic Air Offensive Against Germany, 1939–1945 (HMSO, 1961 & facsimile reprinted by Naval & Military Press, 2006), 4 vols. ISBN 978-1-84574-437-3.
  • Wells, Mark K. Courage and air warfare: the Allied aircrew experience in the Second World War (1995)
  • Werrell, Kenneth P. "The Strategic Bombing of Germany in World War II: Costs and Accomplishments", Journal of American History 73 (1986) 702–713; in JSTOR

External links

Preceded by
Wessex Bombing Area
Bomber Command
1936–1968
Succeeded by
Strike Command
429 Transport Squadron

429 Transport Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force is one of four squadrons attached to CFB Trenton in Trenton, Ontario. The squadron was originally formed as a bomber squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) attached to RAF Bomber Command during the Second World War.

Bomber Command

Bomber Command is an organisational military unit, generally subordinate to the air force of a country. The most famous ones were in Britain and the United States. A Bomber Command is generally used for strategic bombing (although at times, e.g. during the Normandy Landings, may be used for tactical bombing), and is composed of bombers (i.e. planes used to bomb targets).

Bomber stream

The bomber stream was a saturation attack tactic developed by the Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command to overwhelm the night time German aerial defences of the Kammhuber Line during World War II.

The Kammhuber Line consisted of three layers of zones of about 32 km long (north–south) and 20 km wide (east–west). In each zone there were two German night fighter aircraft receiving ground-directed guidance from their own Himmelbett controller within each zone. While the Himmelbett control center could only handle two fighters, this was adequate for dealing with the RAF Bomber Command tactic of sending its night time bombers individually, with each bomber plotting its own route to the target, to avoid flak concentrations.

At the urging of British scientific military strategist R. V. Jones, Bomber Command reorganized their attacks into streams carefully positioned to fly right down the middle of a cell. The introduction of the GEE navigation system allowed the RAF bombers to fly a long, tight, formation in the dark—a 'stream of bombers' flying a common route at the same speed to and from the target, each aircraft being allotted a height band and a time slot in a bomber stream to minimize the risk of formation collision.

In one of the first applications of statistical operational research, the RAF estimated the number of bombers likely to be lost to enemy night fighters and flak, and how many would be lost through collisions. Minimizing the former demanded a densely packed stream, as the controllers of a night fighter flying a defensive 'box' could only direct a maximum of six potential interceptions per hour, and the flak gunners could not concentrate on all the available targets at once.

A typical bomber stream of 600 to 700 aircraft was on average 8 or 10 miles broad, and 4,000 to 6,000 feet deep.The bomber stream allowed a bombing raid to be completed in a shorter time frame, further overwhelming the defensive tactics of the German forces. The earlier RAF tactic of sending bombers on individual routes meant that it could take four hours before all its planes would have passed over their target; the bomber stream reduced this window to 90 minutes.The first use of the bomber stream was the first 1,000 bomber raid against Cologne on the night of 30–31 May 1942.The tactic proved successful and was used until the last days of the war, when centrally-organised German air defences had ceased to exist.

Bombing of Duisburg in World War II

Duisburg was bombed a number of times by the Allies during World War II. The most devastating air raids on Duisburg occurred during October 1944 when the city was bombed by the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Duisburg was a major logistical centre in the Ruhr Area and location of chemical, steel and iron industries, Duisburg was a primary target of Allied bombers. Not only the industrial areas but also residential areas were attacked by Allied bombs. As an entry to the Ruhr, there were daily warnings of bombing raids in 1943.

In the period 1939 to 1945 the Royal Air Force dropped a total of 30,025 long tons of bombs on Duisburg.

Bombing of Königsberg in World War II

The bombing of Königsberg was a series of attacks made on the city of Königsberg in East Prussia during World War II. The Soviet Air Force had made several raids on the city since 1941. Extensive attacks carried by RAF Bomber Command destroyed most of the city's historic quarters in the summer of 1944. Königsberg was also heavily bombed during the Battle of Königsberg, in the final weeks of the war.

Casablanca directive

The Casablanca directive was approved by the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCOS) of the Western Allies at their 65th meeting on 21 January 1943 and issued to the appropriate the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces commanders on 4 February 1943. It remained in force until 17 April 1944, when the Allied strategic bomber commands based in Britain were directed to help with preparations for Operation Overlord.

The CCOS met during the Casablanca Conference when the Allies were deciding the future strategy of the war.

The directive set out a series of priorities for the strategic bombing of Germany by the air forces based in the UK (RAF Bomber Command and US Eighth Air Force). With modification in June, making German fighters (part of their main defence against Allied bombers) an "intermediate target " and the primary goal, it gave direction to the combined (USAAF and RAF) bombing offensive known as Operation Pointblank.

List of Royal Air Force Operational Training Units

Royal Air Force Operational Training Units (OTU) were training units that prepared aircrew for operations on a particular type or types of aircraft or roles.

No. 1 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit RAF (1 OTU)

1 OTU was formed in 1940 as part of Coastal Command at RAF Silloth for training aircrew on coastal command patrol aircraft types until it was disbanded on 19 October 1943.No. 2 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit RAF (2 OTU)

2 OTU was formed in 1940 as part of Coastal Command at RAF Catfoss for training aircrew on coastal command twin-engined fighter and strike aircraft types until it was disbanded 15 February 1944.No. 3 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit RAF (3 OTU)

3 OTU was formed in 1940 as part of Coastal Command at RAF Catfoss for training aircrew on coastal command aircraft types like the Avro Anson and Bristol Beaufighter until it was disbanded 4 January 1944.No. 4 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit RAF (4 OTU)

4 OTU was formed in 1941 as part of Coastal Command at RAF Stranraer for training aircrew on coastal command flying boats until it was disbanded when it became 235 OCU in 1947.No. 5 Operational Training Unit RAF (5 OTU)

5 OTU was formed in 1940 as part of No. 12 Group Fighter Command at RAF Aston Down for training fighter pilots until it was disbanded 1 August 1945.No. 6 Operational Training Unit RAF (6 OTU)

6 OTU was formed in March 1940 at RAF Sutton Bridge for training fighter pilots, commanded by Squadron Leader Philip Campbell Pinkham, with a complement of Hawker Hurricane, Miles Mentor and North American Harvard aircraft, including one Gloster Gladiator, its first pilot pool came from No. 11 Group RAF transferring to No. 12 Group RAF of Fighter Command. No. 6 OTU was re-numbered in November 1940 to No. 56 OTU and remained at RAF Sutton Bridge until relocating in March 1942 to RAF Tealing.No. 7 Operational Training Unit RAF (7 OTU)

7 OTU was formed in 1940 as part of Fighter Command at RAF Hawarden to train fighter pilots. During the Battle of Britain in September 1940 it flew operational flights over north west England claiming three enemy aircraft shot down. It was re-designated No. 57 OTU on 1 November 1940.No. 8 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit RAF (8 OTU)

8 OTU was formed on 18 May 1942 at RAF Fraserburgh by merging the Photographic Reconnaissance Conversion Flight of 3 School of General Reconnaissance, RAF Squires Gate and "K" (Photographic Reconnaissance Advanced Training ) Flight of 1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit, RAF Detling. It was part of No. 17 Group Coastal Command. It trained aircrew on a wide range of photo-reconnaissance aircraft including the Supermarine Spitfire and de Havilland Mosquito. It was disbanded when it became 237 OCU in 1947.No. 9 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit RAF (9 OTU)

9 OTU was formed in 1942 as part of No. 17 Group Coastal Command at RAF Aldergrove to train long-range fighter aircrew, it was disbanded on 11 August 1944.No. 10 Operational Training Unit RAF (10 OTU)

10 OTU was formed in 1940 as part of No. 8 Group RAF Bomber Command at RAF Abingdon to train night bomber aircrew, it was disbanded on 10 September 1946.No. 11 Operational Training Unit RAF (11 OTU)

11 OTU was formed in 1940 as part of No. 6 Group RAF Bomber Command at RAF Bassingbourn to train night bomber aircrew. During 1942 it operated seven operational night bombing missions. In September 1942, it moved to RAF Westcott and its satellite station RAF Oakley. It was disbanded on 18 September 1945.No. 12 Operational Training Unit RAF (12 OTU)

12 OTU was formed in April 1940 as part of No. 1 Group RAF Bomber Command at RAF Benson to train light bomber aircrew. During 1942 it operated operational night bombing missions, it was disbanded on 22 June 1945.No. 13 Operational Training Unit RAF (13 OTU)

13 OTU was formed in April 1940 as part of No. 6 Group RAF Bomber Command at RAF Bicester to train originally Bristol Blenheim light day bomber aircrew. It was disbanded when it became 236 OCU in 1947.No. 14 Operational Training Unit RAF (14 OTU)

14 OTU was formed in April 1940 as part of No. 6 Group RAF Bomber Command at RAF Cottesmore to train night bomber crews. It later came under the control of No. 92 Group when it reformed at RAF Market Harborough in August 1943. It was disbanded on 24 June 1945.No. 15 Operational Training Unit RAF (15 OTU)

15 OTU was formed in August 1940 as part of No. 6 Group RAF Bomber Command at RAF Harwell to train night bomber crews on the Vickers Wellington. In 1942 it carried out seven operational missions. It was disbanded in March 1944.No. 16 Operational Training Unit RAF (16 OTU)

16 OTU was formed in April 1940 as part of No. 6 Group RAF Bomber Command at RAF Upper Heyford to train night bomber crews using the Handley Page Hampden and Hereford. It converted to the Vickers Wellington in 1942 and carried out a number of operational sorties. It was disbanded in January 1945.No. 17 Operational Training Unit RAF (17 OTU)

17 OTU was formed in April 1940 as part of No. 6 Group RAF Bomber Command at RAF Upwood to train light bomber crews using the Bristol Blenheim. It moved to RAF Silverstone in April 1943 to train night bomber crews with the Vickers Wellington. It was re-designated No. 201 Advanced Flying School in March 1947.No. 18 Operational Training Unit RAF (18 OTU)

18 OTU was formed in June 1940 from the Polish Training Unit as part of No. 6 Group RAF Bomber Command to train light bomber crews for the Polish Boulton Paul Defiant squadrons. Converted to the Vickers Wellington in 1942 and carried out six operational sorties as part of No. 91 Group. Disbanded in January 1945.No. 19 Operational Training Unit RAF (19 OTU)

19 OTU was formed in May 1940 at RAF Kinloss to train night bomber crews using the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley. In June 1942 twelve Whitleys took part in a raid against Bremen. Re-equipped with the Vickers Wellington from August 1944 until it was disbanded in June 1945.No. 20 Operational Training Unit RAF (20 OTU)

20 OTU was formed in May 1940 at RAF Lossiemouth to train night bomber crews using the Vickers Wellington. It disbanded in July 1945.No. 21 Operational Training Unit RAF (21 OTU)

21 OTU was formed in January 1941 at RAF Moreton-in-Marsh to train night bomber crews using the Vickers Wellington. In 1942 is carried out a number of operational sorties. It moved to RAF Finningley in November 1946 before being re-designated No. 202 Advanced Flying School in March 1947.No. 22 Operational Training Unit RAF (22 OTU)

22 OTU was formed in April 1941 at RAF Wellesbourne Mountford as part of No. 6 Group RAF Bomber Command to train night bomber crews with the Vickers Wellington. Disbanded in July 1945.No. 23 Operational Training Unit RAF (23 OTU)

23 OTU was formed in April 1941 at RAF Pershore as part of No. 6 Group RAF Bomber Command to train night bomber crews using the Vickers Wellington. Carried out operational sorties during 1942 and was disbanded in March 1944 with most of the aircraft moving to No. 22 OTU.No. 24 Operational Training Unit RAF (24 OTU)

24 OTU was formed in March 1942 at RAF Honeybourne as part of No. 7 Group RAF Bomber Command to train night bomber crews using the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley. Carried out three operational sorties during 1942. Converted to the Vickers Wellington in April 1944 to train Royal Canadian Air Force crews, disbanded in July 1945.No. 25 Operational Training Unit RAF (25 OTU)

25 OTU was formed in March 1941 at RAF Finningley as part of No. 7 Group RAF Bomber Command to train night bomber crews using the Handley Page Hampden, after operating a variety of types it became a Vickers Wellington unit in April 1942. It carried out a number of operational raids during 1942. Disbanded in February 1943.No. 26 Operational Training Unit RAF (26 OTU)

26 OTU was formed in January 1942 at RAF Wing as part of No. 7 Group RAF Bomber Command to train night bomber crews using the Vickers Wellington. Disbanded in March 1946.No. 27 Operational Training Unit RAF (27 OTU)

27 OTU was formed in April 1941 at RAF Lichfield as part of No. 6 Group RAF Bomber Command to train night bomber crews using the Vickers Wellington. Trained Royal Australian Air Force crews in 1942 and it was disbanded in June 1945.No. 28 Operational Training Unit RAF (28 OTU)

28 OTU was formed in May 1942 at RAF Wymeswold as part of No. 92 Group RAF Bomber Command to train night bomber crews using the Vickers Wellington. Disbanded in October 1944.No. 29 Operational Training Unit RAF (29 OTU)

29 OTU was formed in April 1942 at RAF North Luffenham as part of No. 7 Group RAF Bomber Command to train night bomber crews using the Vickers Wellington. Carried four operation sorties during 1942. Disbanded in May 1945.No. 30 Operational Training Unit RAF (30 OTU)

30 OTU was formed in June 1942 at RAF Hixon as part of No. 93 Group RAF Bomber Command to train night bomber crews using the Vickers Wellington. Disbanded in June 1945.No. 31 Operational Training Unit RAF (31 OTU)

31 OTU was formed in May 1941 at Debert, Nova Scotia as part of No. 3 Training Command to general reconnaissance crews using the Lockheed Hudson and Avro Anson Carried out operational patrols in the Western Atlantic from Dartmouth. Operated the de Havilland Mosquito from May 1944 and it was disbanded in July 1944 when it was replaced by No. 7 Operational Training Unit RCAF.No. 32 Operational Training Unit RAF (32 OTU)

32 OTU was formed at West Kirby, Liverpool, the personnel then moved by ship to Patricia Bay, British Columbia as part of No. 4 Training Command. Tasked to train general reconnaissance crews and the first Avro Ansons arrived in September 1941, and Bristol Beaufighters arrived in October 1942. With the start of the war in the Pacific the unit was declared an operational squadron to protect the Canadian coast from Japanese raids and re-designated No. 32 Operational Squadron on 15 December 1941. After a few days mounting patrols it became clear that the Japanese were unlikely to attack Canada and it reverted to an Operational Training Unit on 29 December 1941. Re-designated No. 6 Operational Training Unit RCAF in June 1944.No. 34 Operational Training Unit RAF (34 OTU)

34 OTU was formed in April 1942 in the United Kingdom, the personnel then moved by ship to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia as part of No. 3 Training Command to train general reconnaissance crews. The first Avro Ansons arrived in May 1942. Disbanded in May 1944.No. 36 Operational Training Unit RAF (36 OTU)

36 OTU was formed in February 1942 in the United Kingdom, the personnel then moved by ship to Greenwood, Nova Scotia as part of No. 3 Training Command to train general reconnaissance crews using the Lockheed Hudson. Later became No. 8 Operational Training Unit RCAF.No. 41 Operational Training Unit RAF (41 OTU)

41 OTU was formed in September 1941 at RAF Old Sarum to train tactical reconnaissance pilots.No. 42 Operational Training Unit RAF (42 OTU)

42 OTU was formed in July `1941 at RAF Andover to train army support crews.No. 43 Operational Training Unit RAF (43 OTU)

43 OTU was formed in October 1942 at RAF Larkhill to train army co-operation air observers for deployment on the Auster.No. 51 Operational Training Unit RAF (51 OTU)

51 OTU was formed in July 1941 at RAF Debden to train night fighter crews.No. 52 Operational Training Unit RAF (52 OTU)

52 OTU was formed in March 1941 at RAF Debden to train fighter pilots using the Hawker Hurricane.No. 53 Operational Training Unit RAF (53 OTU)

53 OTU was formed in February 1941 at RAF Heston to train fighter pilots using the Supermarine Spitfire.No. 54 Operational Training Unit RAF (54 OTU)

54 OTU was formed in November 1940 at RAF Church Fenton to train night fighter crews.No. 55 Operational Training Unit RAF (55 OTU)

55 OTU was formed in November 1940 at RAF Aston Down to train fighter pilots.No. 56 Operational Training Unit RAF (56 OTU)

Previously designated No. 6 OTU formed in March 1940 at RAF Sutton Bridge and re-numbered in November 1940 to 56 OTU where it remained at RAF Sutton Bridge until relocating in March 1942 to RAF Tealing.No. 57 Operational Training Unit RAF (57 OTU)

57 OTU was formed in November 1940 at RAF Hawarden to train single-seat fighter pilots.No. 58 Operational Training Unit RAF (58 OTU)

58 OTU was formed in December 1940 at RAF Grangemouth to train day fighter pilots. No. 58 OTU was re-formed in March 1945 at RAF Poulton with Spitfires.No. 59 Operational Training Unit RAF (59 OTU)

59 OTU was formed in December 1940 at RAF Turnhouse to train single-seat fighter pilots. No. 59 OTU was re-formed in February 1945 at RAF Acklington to train fighter-bomber pilots using the Hawker Typhoon.No. 60 Operational Training Unit RAF (60 OTU)

60 OTU was formed in April 1941 at RAF Leconfield to train night fighter crews using the Blenheim and Defiant, subsequently moving to RAF East Fortune and converting to Beaufighter training. In November 1942 it transferred to Coastal Command and was renumbered 132 OTU. No. 60 OTU was re-formed in May 1943 at RAF High Ercall to train intruder crews using the de Havilland Mosquito.No. 61 Operational Training Unit RAF (61 OTU)

61 OTU was formed in June 1941 at RAF Heston to train single-seat fighter pilots.No. 62 Operational Training Unit RAF (62 OTU)

62 OTU was formed in August 1942 at RAF Usworth to train observers/radio operators in the Air Intercept role.No. 63 Operational Training Unit RAF (63 OTU)

63 OTU was formed in August 1943 at RAF Honiley to train night fighter crews.No. 70 (Middle East) Operational Training Unit RAF (70 OTU)

70 (Middle East) OTU was formed in December 1949 for training in middle east conditions.No. 71 Operational Training Unit RAF (7 1OTU)

71 OTU was formed in June 1941 at RAF Ismailia for desert training.No. 72 Operational Training Unit RAF (72 OTU)

72 OTU was formed in November 1941 at RAF Carthago to train light bomber crews in tropical conditions.No. 73 Operational Training Unit RAF (73 OTU)

No.73 OTU was formed in November 1941 at RAF Sheikh Othman, Aden for training in desert conditions initially using two Mohawks and a Hurricane.No. 74 Operational Training Unit RAF (74 OTU)

74 OTU was formed in October 1941 at RAF Aqir for army co-operation training and to teach tactical reconnaissance skills in the desert, using the Hawker Hurricane.No. 75 Operational Training Unit RAF (75 OTU)

75 OTU was formed in December 1942 at RAF Gianaclis to train general reconnaissance crews using the Lockheed Hudson.No. 76 Operational Training Unit RAF (76 OTU)

76 OTU was formed in October 1943 at RAF Aqir to train night bomber crews using Vickers Wellington.No. 77 Operational Training Unit RAF (77 OTU)

77 OTU was formed in January 1944 at RAF Qastina to train night bomber crews using the Vickers Wellington.No. 78 Operational Training Unit RAF (78 OTU)

78 OTU was formed in February 1944 at RAF Ein Shemar to train general reconnaissance crews particularly using ASV radar and the Leigh light.No. 79 Operational Training Unit RAF (79 OTU)

79 OTU was formed in February 1944 at RAF Nicosia to train general reconnaissance and strike crews.No. 80 (French) Operational Training Unit RAF (80 OTU)

80 OTU was formed in April 1945 at RAF Morpeth to train French fighter pilots using the Supermarine Spitfire and Miles Master.No. 81 Operational Training Unit RAF (81 OTU)

81 OTU was formed in July 1942 at RAF Ashbourne to train night bomber crews with the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley.No. 82 Operational Training Unit RAF (82 OTU)

82 OTU was formed in June 1943 at RAF Ossington to train night bomber crews with the Vickers Wellington.No. 83 Operational Training Unit RAF (83 OTU)

83 OTU was formed in August 1943 at RAF Childs Ercall to train night bomber crews with the Vickers Wellington.No. 84 Operational Training Unit RAF (84 OTU)

84 OTU was formed in September 1943 at RAF Desborough to train night bomber crews with the Vickers Wellington.No. 85 Operational Training Unit RAF (85 OTU)

84 OTU was formed in June 1944 at RAF Husbands Bosworth to train night bomber crews with the Vickers Wellington.No. 86 Operational Training Unit RAF (86 OTU)

86 OTU was formed in June 1944 at RAF Gamston to train night bomber crews with the Vickers Wellington.

No. 101 (Glider) Operational Training Unit RAF (101 OTU)

Formed in April 1942 at RAF Kidlington as part of No. 70 Group to train glider pilots using the Hotspur.No. 102 (Glider) Operational Training Unit RAF (102 OTU)

Formed in February 1942 at RAF Kidlington as part of No. 70 Group to train glider pilots using the Hotspur.No. 104 (Transport) Operational Training Unit RAF (104 OTU)

Formed in March 1943 at RAF Nutts Coner to crews on transport aircraft using the Vickers Wellington.No. 105 (Transport) Operational Training Unit RAF (105 OTU)

Formed in April 1944 at RAF Bramcote to train crews for airline transport squadrons, at first using the Vickers Wellington but by September 1944 with the Douglas Dakota.No. 107 (Transport) Operational Training Unit RAF (107 OTU)

Formed in May 1944 at RAF Leicester East to train transport and glider tug crews using the Douglas Dakota and Horsa glider.No. 108 (Transport) Operational Training Unit RAF (108 OTU)

Formed in October 1944 at RAF Wymeswold to train transport crews using the Douglas Dakota.No. 109 (Transport) Operational Training Unit RAF (109 OTU)

Formed in August 1944 at RAF Crosby-on-Eden to train transport crews using the Douglas Dakota.No. 111 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit RAF (111 OTU)

Formed in August 1942 in the Bahamas to train general reconnaissance crews using the North American Mitchell and Consolidated Liberators.No. 131 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit RAF (131 OTU)

Formed in July 1942 at RAF Killadeas as part of No. 15 Group Coastal Command to train crews on the Consolidated Catalina.No. 132 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit RAF (132 OTU)

Formed in November 1942 at RAF East Fortune as part of No. 17 Group Coastal Command to train long-range fighter and strike training using the Bristol Blenheim, Bristol Beaufighter and later de Havilland Mosquito.No. 151 (Fighter) Operational Training Unit RAF (151 OTU)

Formed in July 1942 at RAF Risalpur as part of No. 227 Group to train pilots out of Indian flying taining schools.No. 152 (Bomber) Operational Training Unit RAF (152 OTU)

Formed in October 1942 at RAF Peshawar as part of No. 227 Group to train pilots out of Indian flying training schools.No. 1 Operational Training Unit, India (1 (India) OTU)

Formed April 1942 at RAF Risalpur as part of No. 1 (Indian) Group to train fighter pilots in an Indian environment.

List of public art in Green Park

This is a list of public art in Green Park, one of the Royal Parks of London.

Green Park lies between Hyde Park and St James's Park, in the City of Westminster. Much of the present landscaping is the result of remodelling by John Nash in the 1820s, and the park had been cleared of its buildings, dating to the time of Queen Caroline, by 1855. Governments have traditionally been reluctant to situate memorials in the Royal Parks, and there were none in Green Park until the installation of the Canada Memorial in 1994. Since then two further war memorials have been added, with the second (dedicated to the memory of RAF Bomber Command) drawing criticism for "the un-greening of this section of Green Park".

Operation Hurricane (1944)

Operation Hurricane was a 24-hour terror bombing operation to "demonstrate to the enemy in Germany generally the overwhelming superiority of the Allied Air Forces in this theatre" (in the directive to Harris ACO RAF Bomber Command) and "cause mass panic and disorginazation [sic] in the Ruhr, disrupt frontline communications and demonstrate the futility of resistance" (in the words of the Official RAF History).During the day of 14 October 1944, 957 RAF Bomber Command aircraft dropped 3,574 long tons (3,631 t) of high explosive and 820 long tons (830 t) of incendiaries on Duisburg. Also during the day, USAAF VIII Bomber Command Mission 677 made PFF attacks on Cologne marshaling yards at Gereon, Gremberg, and Eifelter; as well as Euskirchen. A second RAF raid on Duisburg during the night of 14/15 October in two waves about two hours apart dropped a further 4,040 tonnes of high explosive and 500 tonnes of incendiaries. In some cases RAF crews flew both the daylight and night-time raids; a total of nearly eleven hours flying time in 24 hours. During the same night the RAF also bombed Brunswick (German: Braunschweig), destroying the town centre.

Nearly fifty Mosquitos carried out nuisance raids and 132 aircraft from No. 100 Group targeted German night fighter operations.

In 24 hours, RAF Bomber Command had flown 2,589 sorties, losing 24 aircraft, dropping approximately 10,050 long tons (10,210 t) of bombs and killing over 2,500 civilians in Duisburg alone.

RAF Attlebridge

Royal Air Force Attlebridge or more simply RAF Attlebridge is a former Royal Air Force station located near Attlebridge and 8 miles (13 km) northwest of Norwich, Norfolk, England.

RAF Bomber Command Memorial

The Royal Air Force Bomber Command Memorial is a memorial in Green Park, London, commemorating the crews of RAF Bomber Command who embarked on missions during the Second World War. The memorial, located on Piccadilly near Hyde Park Corner, was built to mark the sacrifice of 55,573 aircrew from Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Poland and other allied countries, as well as civilians of all nations killed during raids.Queen Elizabeth II unveiled the memorial on 28 June 2012, the year of her Diamond Jubilee.

RAF Bomber Command aircrew of World War II

The aircrews of RAF Bomber Command during World War II operated a fleet of bomber aircraft carried strategic bombing operations from September 1939 to May 1945, on behalf of the Allied powers. The crews were men from the United Kingdom, other Commonwealth countries, and occupied Europe, especially Poland, France, Czechoslovakia and Norway, as well as other foreign volunteers. While the majority of Bomber Command personnel were members of the RAF, many belonged to other air forces – especially the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). Under Article XV of the 1939 Air Training Agreement, squadrons belonging officially to the RCAF, RAAF, and RNZAF were formed, equipped and financed by the RAF, for service in Europe. While it was intended that RCAF, RAAF, and RNZAF personnel would serve only with their respective "Article XV squadrons", in practice many were posted to units of the RAF or other air forces. Likewise many RAF personnel served in Article XV squadrons.

A total of 126 squadrons served with Bomber Command. Of these, 32 were officially non-British units: 15 RCAF squadrons, eight RAAF squadrons, four Polish squadrons, two French squadrons, two RNZAF/"New Zealand" squadrons, and one Czechoslovakian squadron.

Most aircrew were aged between 19 and 25, although some were as young as 16, and at least one was in his sixties. (For more details, see "The ages of aircrew" section below.)

In total 364,514 operational sorties were flown and 8,325 aircraft lost in action. Bomber Command aircrews suffered a high casualty rate: of a total of 125,000 aircrew, 57,205 were killed (a 46 percent death rate), a further 8,403 were wounded in action and 9,838 became prisoners of war. Therefore, a total of 75,446 airmen (60 percent of operational airmen) were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. A memorial in Green Park in London was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 June 2012 to highlight the heavy casualties suffered by the aircrews during the war.

RAF Bottesford

Royal Air Force Bottesford or more simply RAF Bottesford is a former Royal Air Force station located on the Leicestershire-Lincolnshire county border, 6.8 miles (10.9 km) north west of Grantham, Lincolnshire and 7.6 miles (12.2 km) south of Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire and about 107 miles (172 km) north-northwest of London, England.

Opened in 1942, it was used by both the Royal Air Force (RAF) and United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). During the war it was used primarily as a troop carrier airfield for paratroopers and as a bomber airfield before closing in 1948.

Today the remains of the airfield are located on private property with the technical site being used as an industrial estate.

RAF Folkingham

Royal Air Force Station Folkingham or RAF Folkingham is a former Royal Air Force station located south west of Folkingham, Lincolnshire and about 29 miles (47 km) due south of county town Lincoln and 112 miles (180 km) north of London, England.

Opened in 1940, it was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces. During the war it was used primarily as a troop carrier airfield for airborne units and as a subsidiary training depot of the newly formed Royal Air Force Regiment. After the war it was placed on care and maintenance during 1947 when the RAF Regiment relocated to RAF Catterick.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, the RAF Bomber Command used Folkingham as a PGM-17 Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) base.

Today the remains of the airfield are located on private property being used as agricultural fields, with the main north-south runway acting as hardstanding for hundreds of scrapped vehicles.

RAF Glatton

Royal Air Force Glatton or more simply RAF Glatton is a former Royal Air Force station located 10 miles (16 km) north of Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, England.

RAF Langar

Royal Air Force Station Langar or more simply RAF Langar is a former Royal Air Force station located near the village of Langar, Nottinghamshire, England. The airfield is located approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) east-southeast of Radcliffe on Trent and about 100 miles (160 km) north-northwest of London, England.

Opened in 1942 during World War II, it was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces. During the war it was used primarily as troop carrier transport airfield. After the war it was provided to the Royal Canadian Air Force which used it as an operational base until 1963.

Today the airfield is the location for the British Parachute Schools, who use the original control tower for their headquarters. The former Avro industrial complex is used by private industry.

RAF Ridgewell

Royal Air Force Ridgewell or more simply RAF Ridgewell is a former Royal Air Force station located 7.5 miles (12.1 km) north west of Halstead, Essex, England.

During the Second World War, the airfield was used by the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces Eighth Air Force.

RAF Steeple Morden

Royal Air Force Steeple Morden or more simply RAF Steeple Morden is a former Royal Air Force station located 3.5 miles (5.6 km) west of Royston, Hertfordshire, England.

RAF Watton

Royal Air Force Station Watton or more simply RAF Watton is a former Royal Air Force station located 9 mi (14 km) southwest of East Dereham, Norfolk, England.

Opened in 1937 it was used by both the Royal Air Force (RAF) and United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) during the Second World War. During the war it was used primarily as a bomber airfield, being the home of RAF Bomber Command squadrons until being used by the United States Army Air Forces Eighth Air Force as a major overhaul depot for Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers and as a weather reconnaissance base.

After the war, it was returned to RAF use until being turned over to the British Army in the early 1990s. It was closed then put up for sale.

RAF strategic bombing during the Second World War
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