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  • Portal Sacks Harris

    It's January 29th 1944 and the last Lancaster & Halifax bombers to return from another raid on the Big City have touched down, at least 46 bombers failed to return.

    Bomber Command's chief is called to see Charles Portal on the 30th and is sacked, months of Harris' extravagant claims for what his bombers could achieve, together with his abrasive personality having rubbed people up the wrong way have all come together and the latest losses suffered by his command have finally strained Churchill & Portals patience to breaking point.

    What do you think would happen next, how would Britain's bomber offensive be effected and what new course (if any) would it follow?

    I'd be interested in your thoughts.
    HONNEUR ET FIDÉLITÉ

    "Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won." - Duke of Wellington at Waterloo.

  • #2
    Bomber Commands effectiveness would drop off, also it would be one hell of a sticking point with the Americans, imagining the Americans trying to comprehend the RAF sacking its head for the loss of 46 Bombers when the USAAF loses that almost every mission, they'd be right royally peed.

    At this point i don't know anyone that could have achieve what Bomber Command did under Harris.

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    • #3
      Agreed. Might even (just to put you poms in a panic) lead to a joint bomber command under American control since no one else would be able to deal with it....
      Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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      • #4
        Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
        Agreed. Might even (just to put you poms in a panic) lead to a joint bomber command under American control since no one else would be able to deal with it....
        Exactly, the US would have to step in and demand total command of the European Theatre, then as things get tough, they might insist on the RAF Bomber Command actually begin to supplement the USAAF in conducting daylight bombing raids, those poor bloody Lancs and Halifaxes would get shot down in larger numbers than historical.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
          Bomber Commands effectiveness would drop off, also it would be one hell of a sticking point with the Americans, imagining the Americans trying to comprehend the RAF sacking its head for the loss of 46 Bombers when the USAAF loses that almost every mission, they'd be right royally peed.

          At this point i don't know anyone that could have achieve what Bomber Command did under Harris.
          Forty six bombers was the loss to BC for just that raid, Harris' bombers had been taking a pounding (as had the USAAF) on an almost nightly basis which had only increased since the opening of the Battle of Berlin.

          I'm afraid that I do not agree with your conclusion that the USAAF would be left out on a limb, too much had been put into Bomber Command for it not to be used, missions would continue to be flown, and who knows, loss rates might have stayed roughly the same but direct orders given to it would be more likely to have been carried out. A good example of this was Harris' dislike of what he called 'Panacea' targets, of which raids against ball bearing factories and POL sites are good examples. When the USAAF struck the bearing plants at Schweinfurt, Bomber Command was supposed to follow up the raid the same evening but Harris refused to do so. Who knows, if he had done so then perhaps the American bombers would not have had to return to it later that year, suffering further grievous losses?

          To play Devils Advocate, I think that all things considered, Harris was probably the best man for the job and that nobody else was available who could have done a better job, but Portal could have shown more backbone when dealing with him. One thing is certain however - Harris, his command in general and his men in particular were poorly treated by both Portal & Churchill before the war had even finished despite the sacrifices they made. Perhaps it was Harris' lack of remorse when it came to the results of the bombing missions (I saw him in a repeat of the 1970's series 'The World At War' in an interview dated 1972 and he was as bullish about the bomber campaign as ever), but he had been given a job to do and he had done it as he saw fit. 'Dehousing' might have been a poor euphemism for bombing people out of their homes and killing many thousands but it was all that could be done with the instruments available and Churchill and the country as a whole were happy for the RAF to do it at the time. There was very little difference between the actions of Bomber Command and LeMay's firebombing of Japan's cities using B-29s and yet, as far as I am aware, U.S. politicians did not turn against American bomber crews when it suited them after the war (if I am wrong in this respect then I am willing to stand corrected).

          Right, time to get off my soap box.
          HONNEUR ET FIDÉLITÉ

          "Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won." - Duke of Wellington at Waterloo.

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          • #6
            Unfortunately Bomber Command needed a "Callous Bastard" at the helm and Harris was the man who was appointed to the Job, and he was effective at doing his job, unfortunately for Harris and the entire Bomber Command they were disowned by the British Government after the war, Dresden had a lot to do with it, i think Dresden was one terror bombing mission too many.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
              Unfortunately Bomber Command needed a "Callous Bastard" at the helm and Harris was the man who was appointed to the Job, and he was effective at doing his job, unfortunately for Harris and the entire Bomber Command they were disowned by the British Government after the war, Dresden had a lot to do with it, i think Dresden was one terror bombing mission too many.
              Possibly, but the target was sanctioned by Churchill with the added bonus that it would help demonstrate the power of BC to the Soviets whilst at the same time helping them as they pushed into Germany. If by this time Bomber Command had become too good at what they did best then that was not the fault of either Harris or his men.

              Apologies if I sound quite strident about this but I think if there is one thing (and in truth you could probably make a good argument for many of his other decisions) that sullies Churchill's reputation with regard to the war and its aftermath, it is his attempt to distance himself from the long suffering men of BC and the campaign they fought on his express orders for the entire length of the European war.

              Bomber Command Memorial (2).jpg
              HONNEUR ET FIDÉLITÉ

              "Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won." - Duke of Wellington at Waterloo.

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              • #8
                Harris opposed and fought the 'diversion' of heavy bombers to the use of Coastal Command for use as very long range (VLR) ASW patrols. John Ellis had some nasty remarks about the relative ineffciency of the heavy bombers in attacking Germany, vs when used to search out & attack submarines at sea. Anyone know of any data, authors, analysis, research, that might refute or support this conclusion of Ellis?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dogsbody67 View Post
                  Possibly, but the target was sanctioned by Churchill with the added bonus that it would help demonstrate the power of BC to the Soviets whilst at the same time helping them as they pushed into Germany. If by this time Bomber Command had become too good at what they did best then that was not the fault of either Harris or his men.

                  Apologies if I sound quite strident about this but I think if there is one thing (and in truth you could probably make a good argument for many of his other decisions) that sullies Churchill's reputation with regard to the war and its aftermath, it is his attempt to distance himself from the long suffering men of BC and the campaign they fought on his express orders for the entire length of the European war.

                  [ATTACH]56371[/ATTACH]
                  Churchill acted like a pure bastard like he was when he stabbed both Harris and Bomber Command in the back after the war, and every government afterwards who continued this act of bastardery until just recently when the brave men of Bomber Command finally got a memorial and recognition. Hopefully one day Harris will get a bloody big bronze statue standing proud.

                  Why i feel this way is because i lost an uncle who flew in RAF Bomber Command as a tail gunner in a Lancaster, after his Lanc returned from a mission one morning after a raid they turned his shot up turret to one side and cut open the rear doors and hosed him out, all that was recognisable was hit boots and esposed shin bones, the rest was mince meat, he had been hit by a volley of either 20mm or 30mm cannon.

                  He was and still to this day a hero while that coward Churchill can burn in hell.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dogsbody67 View Post
                    It's January 29th 1944 and the last Lancaster & Halifax bombers to return from another raid on the Big City have touched down, at least 46 bombers failed to return.

                    Bomber Command's chief is called to see Charles Portal on the 30th and is sacked, months of Harris' extravagant claims for what his bombers could achieve, together with his abrasive personality having rubbed people up the wrong way have all come together and the latest losses suffered by his command have finally strained Churchill & Portals patience to breaking point.

                    What do you think would happen next, how would Britain's bomber offensive be effected and what new course (if any) would it follow?

                    I'd be interested in your thoughts.
                    Quite evidently, whoever replaces Harris will try to minimize the risk of high casualties, lest he be sacked too. Which is not a bad thing in itself.

                    Naturally this would also reduce the impact of the night-time bombing campaign as we know it; on the other hand, the replacement could probably find useful ways to employ the bombers rather than on high risk long-range missions.

                    Some posts have mentioned the possible use of heavy bombers with Coastal Command. I'll add that gardening missions over the Baltic are often neglected, but their effectiveness in hampering U-Boat training and deployment shouldn't be underestimated.

                    Less focus on giant "1,000-bomber" raids attempting to get a firestorm, and on Berlin, in all likelihood would also distribute damage to worthy targets, including the synth oil industry, the electrical power network, and more.
                    That is, after all, what Harris has been criticized for.
                    Michele

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Michele View Post
                      Quite evidently, whoever replaces Harris will try to minimize the risk of high casualties, lest he be sacked too. Which is not a bad thing in itself.

                      Naturally this would also reduce the impact of the night-time bombing campaign as we know it; on the other hand, the replacement could probably find useful ways to employ the bombers rather than on high risk long-range missions.

                      Some posts have mentioned the possible use of heavy bombers with Coastal Command. I'll add that gardening missions over the Baltic are often neglected, but their effectiveness in hampering U-Boat training and deployment shouldn't be underestimated.

                      Less focus on giant "1,000-bomber" raids attempting to get a firestorm, and on Berlin, in all likelihood would also distribute damage to worthy targets, including the synth oil industry, the electrical power network, and more.
                      That is, after all, what Harris has been criticized for.
                      Well I suppose that Bomber Command could relegate the Short Stirling for these marine type missions in larger numbers. It seems the perfect heavy to do such work.

                      The reason for the bomber streams was to breach the German night fighter defences more effectively. Thus although there was a plethora of potential targets passing through their airspace, the night fighter defences could only deal with a relatively small number of intruders. A 'thousand' bomber raid in this respect was quite an effective way of rubbing out a target. The fact that Harris went for the man instead of going for the ball has little to do with the success in pushing large numbers of a/c through sectors.

                      Ed.
                      Last edited by dutched; 14 Nov 13, 18:30.
                      The repetition of affirmations leads to belief. Once that belief becomes a deep conviction, you better wake up and look at the facts.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Dogsbody67 View Post
                        It's January 29th 1944 and the last Lancaster & Halifax bombers to return from another raid on the Big City have touched down, at least 46 bombers failed to return.

                        Bomber Command's chief is called to see Charles Portal on the 30th and is sacked, months of Harris' extravagant claims for what his bombers could achieve, together with his abrasive personality having rubbed people up the wrong way have all come together and the latest losses suffered by his command have finally strained Churchill & Portals patience to breaking point.

                        What do you think would happen next, how would Britain's bomber offensive be effected and what new course (if any) would it follow?

                        I'd be interested in your thoughts.
                        Hey Andrew!

                        Long time since we've swapped "cyberspace".

                        Had to bite on this.

                        Portal had always portrayed (to my understanding) a view to the "bigger picture"...i.e. Strategic.
                        It was on his "watch" where the "special missions" were planned and executed (during this period). Interdiction of the Dortmund/Ems canal viaducts, the raid on the Hamm marshaling yards, the viaduct raids on the DRB mainlines between the Ruhr and Central Germany. These were the missions that brought the Third Reich to it's knees. They fell outside of Harris' purview and were executed by an independent force that had a caveat from above... Harris was the right man for the "job", in terms of the prosecution of the area bombing missions.
                        Despite what is implied in your OP, the truth is (and remains) that "Sir Arthur" took his cues from Portal...despite any reservations he may have held about them.
                        It was far from an "equitable" working relationship and one can certainly cast HUGE aspersions on the manner of employment chosen BY HARRIS during the denouement period of the war.
                        Pforzheim? WTF?That is just pure barbaric...16000 dead out of a census of 24000?Because?:
                        We are out of targets?
                        WE are out of "timber construction" cities that "burn really well".
                        So ok boys, Pforzheim it is....(Harris).

                        Truth be told?

                        The entire thing is a huge cluster **** from one end to the other.

                        Replacement of one man would make no significant difference.
                        48 trips 'round the sun on this sh*tball we call home...and still learning...
                        __________________________________________________ __________________

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Dogsbody67 View Post
                          It's January 29th 1944 and the last Lancaster & Halifax bombers to return from another raid on the Big City have touched down, at least 46 bombers failed to return.

                          Bomber Command's chief is called to see Charles Portal on the 30th and is sacked, months of Harris' extravagant claims for what his bombers could achieve, together with his abrasive personality having rubbed people up the wrong way have all come together and the latest losses suffered by his command have finally strained Churchill & Portals patience to breaking point.

                          What do you think would happen next, how would Britain's bomber offensive be effected and what new course (if any) would it follow?

                          I'd be interested in your thoughts.
                          The Allied bomber offensive will not be affected in any material way. Harris was hardly indispensable, especially at this point.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by dutched View Post
                            The reason for the bomber streams was to breach the German night fighter defences more effectively. Thus although there was a plethora of potential targets passing through their airspace, the night fighter defences could only deal with a relatively small number of intruders. A 'thousand' bomber raid in this respect was quite an effective way of rubbing out a target. The fact that Harris went for the man instead of going for the ball has little to do with the success in pushing large numbers of a/c through sectors.

                            Ed.
                            Bomber streams certainly were better suited for defeating the Himmelbett system, aka the Kammhuber line. Each cell would simply be overwhelmed.

                            Naturally, once the stream has broken through the line, there is no reason for all the bombers to head for the same target city.

                            The Germans of course reacted to the saturation tactics of the bomber stream, and the British developed other tactics including ECMs, and so on and so forth; but even later on, still there was no defensive reason to concentrate on one target. It was possible to overwhelm the German defense network regionally, and then bomb three or four industrial targets in the area.

                            Note BTW that for a long time, 1,000-bomber forces could only be achieved by sending in Training Command units, i.e. units whose training was not complete and which may well fly more vulnerable bombers.
                            Michele

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Michele View Post
                              Bomber streams certainly were better suited for defeating the Himmelbett system, aka the Kammhuber line. Each cell would simply be overwhelmed.

                              Naturally, once the stream has broken through the line, there is no reason for all the bombers to head for the same target city.

                              The Germans of course reacted to the saturation tactics of the bomber stream, and the British developed other tactics including ECMs, and so on and so forth; but even later on, still there was no defensive reason to concentrate on one target. It was possible to overwhelm the German defense network regionally, and then bomb three or four industrial targets in the area.

                              Note BTW that for a long time, 1,000-bomber forces could only be achieved by sending in Training Command units, i.e. units whose training was not complete and which may well fly more vulnerable bombers.
                              True, both systems could be overwhelmed but not for long and besides, once the bomber streams course had been plotted and the likely target identified, you didn't really need either system, the Experten would get amongst the bombers and do their deadly work. By 1943 there was a special counter measures group (100 Group) working alongside Bomber Command but there just weren't enough specialised aircraft or crews, a major planning oversight that cost BC dear. Plus, there were nowhere near enough Serate aircraft making life miserable for the German night fighters. Lastly, and again incredibly, not enough priority was given to Serrate night fighters (usually Mosquito's if I recall) and intruders - theres nothing more off-putting than the thought you might be shot down on approach to your airfield or blasted out of the sky while lining up on a hapless Halifax or Lancaster (much less a low flying Stirling). Even if the vigilant air gunners in the bombers did spot a fighter closing in on them, the chances of dealing it a fatal blow with .303 calibre machine guns was quite slim. Harris, to his great credit tried mightily to get a .5 inch turret into service but comparatively few reached service.

                              The point is (see, there was one somewhere!), I don't think it would have made any difference if Harris had been sacked, the bombers would still have continued to fly although possibly Berlin would have received a bit of a breather and the Ruhr would have taken even more of a beating. Too much had gone into the creation of BC by that point for it not to have been used, whatever Churchill might have felt about it later. Portal was the right man for the job but Portal should have been readier to insist on particular targets being hit and for follow up raids like the projected one against Schweinfurt being carried out.

                              I was merely wondering if, had Portal and Churchill really been that concerned about the course of the Bomber War (and Harris pushed his luck too far ignoring directives), what the effect on the war effort would have been. Probably not much different to that which occurred, but with less emphasis on 'De-Housing.'

                              The link below is an old Hare I set running a few years ago - I still wonder what a Mosquito ruled Bomber Command would look like. Probably one minus Harris.
                              http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...ad.php?t=85697
                              Last edited by Dogsbody67; 15 Nov 13, 15:08. Reason: Adding to original idea/ post.
                              HONNEUR ET FIDÉLITÉ

                              "Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won." - Duke of Wellington at Waterloo.

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