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Thread: The Dam Busters

  1. #81
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    "Sir,

    We have read with disappointment and distress the account in The Northern Whig of the -carefully prepared and skilfully executed destruction of dams in the Ruhr district by the R.A.F. Surely such an act means that many civilians, including women and children, will have been drowned or rendered homeless?

    We would suggest that this does not fit in with the original aim of the British Govemment to break the power of the Nazis, but at the same time encourage the German people to overthrow the Nazis and so to play a useful part again in the life of Europe. On the contrary we feel certain that this act will be represented in Germany as one of deliberate cruelty to the German people, and will be used to goad them to a prolonged resistence.

    Yours etc.

    Dorothy E. Clay, K.W.Young, Gerald A.J.Hodgett, Kenneth Clay, Donald Smeltzer,

    F.Smeltzer, A.R.Whitley, Rosemary Kerr, Cecil F.Pritchard, Denis P.Barritt

    6 Magheralave Road, Lisbum."

    BBC - WW2 People's War - A Criticism of the Dambusters
    Interesting ML but i think you should have flagged up the full article which concludes as follows.....



    The address given was a gate lodge and teachers residence belonging to the School so the School was immediately implicated. I remember the days after publication of the letter when to raise any voice of public criticism against the Government and Armed Forces was deemed treasonable by many. The Northern Whig received lots of letters in reply of which four1een were published, all expressing indignation and disgust such as :

    " ...cannot feel the slightest pang of conscience for any scion of the German race"

    "I do not believe that any Lisburn man or woman would wish to sully the name of his or her old town in this manner"

    "..read with delight of how the R.A.F. bombed the German dams"

    "..pitiable reading just that sort of soppy, sickly sentimentality that was par1ly

    responsible for our unpreparedness for war"


    The Editor of the newspaper brought the correspondence to a close with this note: -

    "Owing to pressure on space it has been possible to give only a selection of the many letters received. All of them, it may be added, are in opposition to the sentiment of the letter from ten lisburn signatories"

    In the aftermath, some parents threatened to remove their children from the school. Some suppliers to the school expressed their patriotic principles in unpleasant ways. There was a small amount of damage to school property. The Headmaster sent a memorandum to staff asking them to air their political and religious views privately without involving the institution for which they worked.




    Puts a slightly different lilt on it .....what

  2. #82
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    The bomber will always get through. The only defence is in offence, which means that you have to kill more women and children more quickly than the enemy if you want to save yourselves.

    Stanley Baldwin, British Prime Minister, House of Commons speech 10 November 1932.




    War is cruelty. There's no use trying to reform it, the crueler it is the sooner it will be over."

    William Tecumseh Sherman



    The Air Force comes in every morning and says, "Bomb, bomb, bomb." And then the State Department comes in and says, "Not now, or not there, or too much, or not at all.

    President Lyndon B. Johnson

    Cant get to what you are trying to say ML..... Should we have stood back and turned the other cheek???? or should we have retaliated and taken an eye for an eye ??? The one to blaim for civil deaths is the original aggressor !!!!



    War is War and there will be casualties both military and civil...Its been like that since the start of time and will go on long after we aint here.!!!!

  3. #83
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    Cant get to what you are trying to say ML..... Should we have stood back and turned the other cheek???? or should we have retaliated and taken an eye for an eye ??? The one to blaim for civil deaths is the original aggressor !!!!



    War is War and there will be casualties both military and civil...Its been like that since the start of time and will go on long after we aint here.!!!!
    I agree,BW. The German Imperial Navy struck some towns on the eastern coast in 1914,including my home town of Hartlepool (my grandad was a witness to it),but whereas some towns were legitimate targets,Scarborough was hit and it served no military purpose.

    I can't understand the criticism of the RAF and its bombing of Dresden,when the Luftwaffe struck towns and cities in Britain. My dad was buried alive during a bombing og Hartlepool in 1942.

    Mark

  4. #84
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    Cant get to what you are trying to say ML.....
    I suppose that Baldwin's quote illustrates that the bombing campaign was clearly forseen, long before Hitler's war was even expected.



    This month's BBC History magazine has a cover feature about the Bomber Command campaign: "Good men doing an ugly job". The Dambusters raid is referred to: "There were occasional 'rapier thrusts' like the Dams Raid of May 1943 led by Guy Gibson. But most of the work was done with the bludgeon."



    There is a curious cover illustration with a Lancaster overlaid on what seems to me to be the bomb-load of a Vietnam-style B52 bomber.... ???



    BBC History Magazine

  5. #85
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    I suppose that Baldwin's quote illustrates that the bombing campaign was clearly forseen, long before Hitler's war was even expected.
    Yes, even more so after the bombing of Guernica in 1937. But that was effectively undefended. There were some bombing raids on Britain in WWI, bombing from Zeppelins. But it was really the ideas developed between the wars that led people to believe that bombers were unstoppable and could win wars just by themselves.



    That's why they feature so heavily in Things to Come (1936)



    Luckily for us, it turned out that it was possible to defend against bombers. Although they did a lot of damage they certainly didn't win the war just by themselves. For either side.



    But sadly, some people never learn the lessons of history and still think that a massive aerial attack will win a war.



    Steve

  6. #86
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    There is a curious cover illustration with a Lancaster overlaid on what seems to me to be the bomb-load of a Vietnam-style B52 bomber.... ???



    BBC History Magazine
    It's a real pic, the're small incendiary bombs.

  7. #87
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    This chap seems to know his stuff:



    "The Dam Busters" (1955) - Comments and Inaccuracies




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    Remember it is said that as a result of a raid on Berlin by the RAF in late August 1940 the focus of the German bombers was switched from RAF bases to London.So what was probably the least effective raid of the war on Berlin turned out to have the most significance.Probably the best book on the bomber offensive is by Max Hastings.One can only come to the conclusion that Bomber harris was so obsessed with proving his ideas on carpet bombing right that he lost sight of the main objective.No wonder his crrews called him Butcher

  9. #89
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    Butcher Harris probably earned his nickname, but Adolph showed that he would blink first. He abandoned the counsel of those experts who knew best by insisting they switch targets to cities from the airfields. And those experts showed their far-sighted intelligence by continuing their Ja Männer roles. This was a fortunate circumstance for the Allies.

  10. #90
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    55000 lost british bomber aircrew show that Butchers nickname was well earned

  11. #91
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    Just imagine what he could have achieved if he'd done daylight bombing!

  12. #92
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    55000 lost british bomber aircrew show that Butchers nickname was well earned
    But every one of Bomber Command is a hero in my eyes.



    'Reap the whirlwind' he said. And they did.



    Nuff said.

  13. #93
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Butcher Harris probably earned his nickname
    His nickname was "Bomber" Harris. A few of his crews may have referred to him as a butcher because of the losses. In general or after a particularly dangerous raid. But it wasn't a term in general usage.



    Steve

  14. #94
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    Yes, I didn't think "Butcher" was something he was frequently tagged with. It's not as if he was actually butchering people.



    "Deep Fry Harris" and "BBQ Harris" was probably more appropriate, but now it sounds like a fast-food chain instead.



    I've never read any of his own works, but only other 'historians' views of his endeavors, few of which were vaguely neutral. "It was war" was about the only excuse they've offered to give him, and when I've seen his post-war quotes, they're probably in response to some recent hiding he'd received.



    Has anyone read anything by Harris that they could recommend to me?

  15. #95
    Member Country: UK Ealingfilmfan's Avatar
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    55000 lost british bomber aircrew show that Butchers nickname was well earned
    Hmmm, so "Bomber" Harris started the war did he????

    What was the alternative???


    Anyhow, back on topic.......

    The Dambusters for me featured the finest putdown ever seen on film....


    When Barnes Wallace was begging for the use of some Wellington bombers to carry out his bouncing bomb experiments....


    Ministry man......."Don't you know there's a shortage of aircraft, what possible reason can I give them for letting you have a Wellington bomber???"


    Wallace......."Perhaps if you told them I designed it......Do you think that might help???"........

  16. #96
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    The Dambusters for me featured the finest putdown ever seen on film....

    When Barnes Wallace was begging for the use of some Wellington bombers to carry out his bouncing bomb experiments....



    Ministry man......."Don't you know there's a shortage of aircraft, what possible reason can I give them for letting you have a Wellington bomber???"



    Wallace......."Perhaps if you told them I designed it......Do you think that might help???"........
    I always quite liked Larry Olivier's line in The Battle of Britain where, as Dowding, he was asked to confirm some statistics because both sides were claiming different figures and he said something to the effect of "Statistics don't matter. If we're right, they'll give up. If they're right, they'll be marching through London in a week."



    Steve

  17. #97
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Has anyone read anything by Harris that they could recommend to me?
    He wrote his own version of events in Bomber Offensive by Sir Arthur Travers Harris. Collins, London. 1947. Reprinted in 1990 & 2005.

    But I haven't read it so can't give a personal recommendation.



    That's the only thing he's credited with writing in the British Library catalogue



    Steve

  18. #98
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    I wonder whether that was the scene where the Lancaster banked away after narrowly missing some trees. Over the noise of the engines came the broad Aussie voice - "This is bloody dangerous!". I agree its a great film and have it on VHS, haven't seen it on DVD

  19. #99
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    His nickname was "Bomber" Harris. A few of his crews may have referred to him as a butcher because of the losses. In general or after a particularly dangerous raid. But it wasn't a term in general usage.

    Steve
    I always thought that "Bomber" Harris was a nickname the press thought up. Certainly the late Jack Currie, ex bomber pilot, calls him "Butch" in his memoirs 'Lancaster Target'. A very good book, incidently, as are Squadron Leader Currie's other books.

  20. #100
    Senior Member Country: England Santonix's Avatar
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    Just as an aside and in response to Christine who was looking for a recommendation for a Harris book to read, may I suggest "Enemy Coast Ahead" written by Guy Gibson shortly before he was killed in action? It gives his account of the Dams' raid amongst other interesting stuff and is a good read.

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