A readable but disturbing book,
This review is from: Berlin Raids (Cassell Military Paperbacks) (Paperback)
MM sure knows his onions and he complements the stats with excellent accounts from both sides of the battle.
This approach makes for a very easy read and you find yourself drawn in hoping for a good outcome. Of course there isn't going to be one and you know that but read on.
I find it staggering that these brave men would go out on these raids knowing how the odds were stacked against them. As he says, one raid saw more casualties than Fighter Command suffered in the Battle of Britain. They 'pressed on' and in retrospect it is puzzling why. There is of course the school of thought that much comes down to Harris. In the armed forces you are supposed to follow orders. He comes across as single-minded and The Battle for Berlin was his supreme folly.
The snag is no one will ever know how close these raids may have been to cracking the Nazi will. More ordnance was expended on this city than several Hiroshimas in equivalent kilo-tonnage but it did not knock Germany out of the war.
Perhaps what disturbed this amateur student of the bomber offensive was the RAF's failure to counter Luftwaffe attacks. MM puts forward a good case for the lack of good intelligence about Luftwaffe tactics combined with the Schrage Muzik attack method. There were other problems too but these two likely caused the horrendous losses.
And it would not have been so bad had the bombers hit the target accurately and consistently. Weather and other factors often prevented this.
Until D-Day there was little the West could do to hit the Nazis so you could justify Harris's scheme that way. But I have always had the suspicion that he was too arrogant to change his mind. That's the price we pay - we have to have strong leaders but all too often they have character flaws. I feel so sorry for those bomber crews and their families. Maybe also for those on the ground who were also led by a strong willed man albeit one with even more character flaws.