Despatch on War Operations, 23rd February, 1942, to 8th May, 1945
This is a document of immense historical significance. Published here with an introduction by Sebastian Cox, a German viewpoint from Horst Boog, and a formerly confidential air staff memorandum commenting on the Despatch, it constitutes one of the most important records relating to the Second World War.
Was Harris a hero or a war criminal? Today, because of his role in overseeing the large-scale bombing of German civilian targets, Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris is one of the most controversial figures of the Second World War. This Despatch, his official report on his war operations, gives Harris's own point of view in more detail than any other document.
For many years Harris's Despatch was classified. When it was declassified it remained unpublished and was, in practice, accessible only to a small number of people who were 'in the know'. Now, for the first time, it is available in a form which will allow the general public to form its own opinion.
In this document matter of fact descriptions of the destruction of entire cities sit side-by-side with technical considerations of bombing technique, defensive tactics, and striking power. Harris's concise, carefully-argued report was accompanied by numerous detailed statistical tables and graphs and these are all reproduced here.
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I was particularly interested in the beginnings of the AGLT. Were 460 Squadron at Binbrook along with 49 Squadron at Fiskerton the first squadrons to be fitted with the device? Some other siutes feature other squadrons but there was too much of a connection between the code name 'Village Inn' with the annex to the officers' mess at Binbrook, also called the 'Village Inn' for me to let go the view that was prevalent at Binbrook when we arrived there in late August 44 that we were the first squadron to be fitted. Pages 109 and 110 of Harris'accountput the matter at rest. Yes! we and No.49 were the first.