Monday, 15 October 2012

Noew Orders for Bomber Harris 1943


The summer of 1943 saw some major changes for Bomber Command that would have a particular impact on Norfolk. The key event was the issuing of a new strategic directive by the Air Ministry to Sir Arthur Harris, head of Bomber Command, on 10 June. This directive was codenamed Pointblank and was the result of months of sometimes tortuous negotiation between the US and British governments over war aims and how to achieve them.

Bomber Command’s main objectives, Harris was told, was “The progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial and economic system, and the undermining of the morale of the German people to a point where their capacity for armed resistance is fatally weakened”. The more detailed instructions told Harris to concentrate on German aircraft and U-boat manufacturing centres as the top priority with oil, ball bearings, synthetic rubber and military vehicle factories being given secondary importance.

Harris was also told that he had to co-operate with the US 8th Air Force – ‘the Mighty 8th’ as the Americans called it. In theory the Americans would fly at daylight to bomb specified factories with deadly accuracy, after which the RAF would bomb the same area at night to destroy surrounding transport links and homes. In practice the Americans soon found that the German fighters were highly effective, and the German pilots equally skilled, at shooting down bombers operating in daylight. This aspect of Harris’s new instructions would remain an objective only for some months to come.

Finally, Harris was told, preparations were underway to invade France at some unspecified place and time in the future. To prepare for this the government believed that the light and medium bombers of 2 Group should be moved from Bomber Command to form a new 2 Tactical Air Force. This would put the aircraft under the command of those planning the invasion and allow for a greater and more careful emphasis on targets that would prove useful to the invasion. Harris would be left with the strategic task of grinding down Germany.

Harris asked that he be allowed to keep 105 and 139 Squadrons from 2 Group, both flying out of Marham, within Bomber Command. He argued that these two Mosquito squadrons were in practice undertaking missions more akin to those of the main bomber force than were the other squadrons of 2 Group, equipped as they were with Bostons, Mitchells and Venturas. Harris, as so often, got what he asked for.

from "Heroes of RAF Bomber Command - Norfolk" by Rupert Matthews
Buy your copy HERE

This illustrated book pays tribute to the pilots and crews who flew from Norfolk airfields during the last war and whose actions displayed some of the finest examples of courage, professionalism and devotion to duty.

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