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6 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars should have conceded like the French, 13 July 2014
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This review is from: The Bombing War: Europe, 1939-1945 (Paperback)
Having read this author's account of the war in Russia, I was expecting a similarly concise, accurate overview of the bombing campaigns of WW2. Sadly, Overly hoists his colours as soon as the 10th page. This is an account blatantly biased against the British RAF bombing strategies. Even before the 100th page, the British are blamed for triggering the Blitz, the Dutch and Poles for failing to surrender Rotterdam and Warsaw. Overly suggests the they, and the British, should have conceded like the French, to avoid their cities being bombed! Every bomb dropped by the Germans - wherever- was SOLELY intended for military targets, never civilians, unlike the nasty allies. Similarly, ever bomber flown by the Germans had pinpoint navigation and bomb aiming devices, so unlike the allies, THEIR bombs never missed. Casualties caused by German bombing were accidental and unintentional, unlike the allies. Every German war document quoted -be warned, there are 1,000's- is taken as gospel. The author shows a worrying disregard for the idea that these documents, written during wartime, were quite probably tainted by wartime political expectations, or fear, or propaganda, or that the document's authors were promoting their own agendas etc. Unlike the allied documents of course, which were all wrong, unprofessional and inaccurate. Sorry, after 150 pages I have enough of this diatribe of hindsight driven, smart-arsed author. The book is now condemned to my bookcase. This book does contain many new and refreshing expositions on all sides, that is true. Where it fails so lamentably is in its premature statement of the authors personal assessment of the allied ( principally British) bombing campaigns. I need not read any further to know that he will condemn utterly, Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne. That he will continually apologise for the poor Germans whose intention was simply to crush all of Europe, murder jews and others by the million and whose own bombing campaign was never meant to terrorise these peoples. Overy overlooks that his book, which seeks to absolve Luftwaffe bombing from intentional terror, fails to recognise that this same group of German commanders shot partisans, gassed 6 million innocent jews, killed and murdered 29m Russians. Why on earth Overy should believe that such a group of murderous people would also be merciful to the civilian population of a country they intended to supress by airbourne attack, I just do not know. Sorry Richard, but this account sucks.
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Showing 1-10 of 34 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Sep 2014 19:49:18 BDT
Mr. Herbert -

in his book, "Bombing vindicated", J.M. Spaight, a civil servant in the British Air Ministry, proudly states that it was Britain, not Germany, that began bombing the enemy's homeland, and he calls the Germans stupid for not having done so. British bombing caused schools to be evacuated from German cities as early as late spring of 1940: the German raid on Coventry took place six months later.


In reply to an earlier post on 6 Oct 2014 17:29:59 BDT
I. White says:
Mr Dunskus

According to the Bomber Command War Diaries (1939-1945) all bombing raids up until 15th May 1940 took place against military targets only, west of the Rhine. it was the Rotterdam raid that resulted in a widening of the target zone. Even then, the targets were military, industrial or communications in nature. It wasn't until July 1941 that mention was made to Bomber Command that civilian morale and communications were to be the target. Of course, it wasn't until Feb 1942 that the German civilians and their will to carry on the war were to be the primary target of area bombing.

It was the threat of British bombing that caused German cities to evacuate their children in Spring 1940 and not the actual bombing of cities. The same happened in Britain prior to the Blitz. My father was evacuated before a single German bomb had been dropped.


In reply to an earlier post on 6 Oct 2014 20:37:20 BDT
Reader White -

from my own experience as a seven year old child in Berlin in the early summer of 1940, who spent many nights in the Berlin underground because of British raids, I can assure you that bombs fell all over the place at that time. Of course, you can argue that all of Berlin was a legitimate target according to your definition, but it did not feel like that on the ground.


In reply to an earlier post on 9 Oct 2014 19:49:15 BDT
I. White says:
Mr Dunskus

I'm afraid your recollections as a seven year old don't seem to match up to reality. Perhaps you might have got the dates wrong. According to the official bomber command records, the first air raid on Berlin was on the 25/26 August 1940 and was in retaliation for the bombing of London the previous night. The results of the raid were one destroyed summer house and 2 injured civilians. The next raid was the 23/24 September, and the targets were communication or industrial in nature.

There were no bombing raids over Berlin in EARLY summer 1940. There were certainly not bombs falling all over Berlin at that time.


In reply to an earlier post on 9 Oct 2014 20:47:17 BDT
Mr. (?) White -

while I am quite willing to make compromises as far as the number of bombs dropped on Berlin in mid-1940 are concerned, I am positive when it comes to the dates. In that respect, I rely not only on my (possibly) imperfect memory - after all, these things happened some 70 years ago - but on actual facts: schools from Berlin (and other German cities) were evacuated east in late summer of 1940, i.e. at the beginning of the 1940/41 school year.

These evacuations did not include my primary school, but did include the school my elder (* 1929) brother attended, the Collège Français, which was moved to Reinerz, a town in the Silesian mountains. I myself was sent by my parents to the little town in Silesia where my grandmother lived. It was only in mid-1941 that we all moved back to Berlin, because of this curious lull (not total, mind you, but a lull just the same) in the air raids that occurred in 1941.

The lull lasted until some time in autumn of 1942, the first major raid on Berlin took place on 2 March 1943 and by summer of that year, all schools were evacuated from west German cities and Berlin. For me, it was back to Silesia.

It may well be that, as you say, the raids by Bomber Command took place on the dates you mention, but there were British raids on Germany just the same before the dates you quoted.


In reply to an earlier post on 10 Oct 2014 15:18:20 BDT
Reader White -

as far as the chronology of bombing raids is concerned, here is a quote from the 2013 issue of the book "Bombing vindicated" by J.M. Spaight, in his time Principal Assistant Secretary of the British Air Ministry, p. 24:

"The other red letter dates in that calendar are 11 May 1940, when we opened our strategic air offensive against the Reich ..."

On p. 28, he speaks about WW1 and about German efforts to limit air strikes to the ectual theatre of war, but says:

"England went further. In the autumn of 1914, she destroyed the airship Z 11 in the shed at Düsseldorf and raided military objectives far from the field of operations. But at the time, she showed consideration for the peaceful population.

France adopted a different line. On 4 December 1914, she attacked the entirely undefended town of Freiburg-im-Breisgau, 80 kilometres behind the lines ..." This raid caused seven deaths among the civilian population.

On p. 30, Spaight makes a distinction between the air raids on Rotterdam and Warsaw, on the one hand, and the later raids on London, on the other, saying that the former were not in parallel with the latter, but on the same page he states: "Purblind, the Germans thought that they could get away with these very brutal bombardments [of R. and W] just because just because the bombers were operating with an investing army ... They were soon undeceived. They are, au fond, stupid people on the whole".

Spaight also stresses the fact that Britain began building her [long-range] Bomber Command in the mid-1930, but says that Germany never had such a weapon; she had neither the heavy, four-engined bombers nor an air arm specifically meant to make large-scale, indiscriminate raids on the enemy's hinterland. On p. 51 he makes things quite clear by saying: "We began to bomb objectives on the German mainland before the Germans began bombing objectives on the British mainland."


In reply to an earlier post on 11 Oct 2014 10:44:36 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 Oct 2014 11:23:42 BDT
I. White says:
Mr Dunskus

You yourself may feel confident about the dates, but your recollections of 70 years ago do not match the facts. Berlin was not bombed until late August. Now that to me is not early summer, it is more late summer. You may indeed have been underground in Berlin in May, June and July of 1940, but it will not have been because of the British bombing of Berlin. They could have been practices or false alarms.

I have no doubt that German schools were indeed evacuated in late summer 1940 and even earlier if situated west of the Rhine at the start of May 1940 as the Invasion of France by the Germans put a stop to the Phoney War of propaganda leafleting by Bomber Command which had been going on since September 1939.

The first actual bombing raids on Germany took place on 11/12 May 1940. According to the records of Bomber Command all targets were industrial, communications or military. It wasn't until 15 May after Germany bombed Rotterdam that the British bombing campaign included the rest of Germany. It is important to note here though, that civilians were not the intended targets regardless of what the Nazi propaganda machine spouted at the time.

Surely, sir, you are not implying that Britain had no right in 1940 to hamper the German war machine by attacking its supply and communication lines in western Germany as German armoured and infantry divisions tore their way through Belgium, Holland and France?

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Oct 2014 11:17:54 BDT
I. White says:
Mr Dunskus

I really do not have any idea why you should pick out random quotes from Mr Spaight's report. The moral and legal rights and wrongs of a complex issue such as the air war in WW2 do not revolve around "who bombed first". It is not a case of black and white.

Britain did not need a tactical airforce in the 1930s as Britain is an island. Germany at the time was perceived as the main military threat in Europe, and the British had to produce a suitable long range bomber to reach its potential enemy. Germany needed bombers that could support its army on the planned drive east. That is not to say that the German airforce could not be used strategically. London was not on the front line, but attempts were made to force the British to surrender by bombing it. Warsaw was bombed by the Germans in support of the army as it approached the city, but many people forget that according to German military historian Cajus Bekker in his book "The Luftwaffe War Diaries" (English version) p34 the only thing that stopped Warsaw from being razed to the ground on 1 September 1939 was the weather. At that time, the German army was hundreds of miles away. Bekker does state that Warsaw was an important political and communications hub, so what is the difference between the planned bombing of Warsaw on 1 September 1939 and the bombing of Monchengladbach by the British airforce on 11/12 May 1940?

As far as I know, I thought this little debate was about 1940 and not WW1. I have no idea why you quoted General von Hoeppner (and not Spaight, as you previously suggested).

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Oct 2014 12:37:13 BDT
Reader White -

thanks for your comments. Will reply, but only in a couple of weeks, because of a trip.


In reply to an earlier post on 11 Oct 2014 14:03:55 BDT
I. White says:
Have a good trip.

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