The latest edition of RAF Air Power Review has just appeared with two interesting articles concerning the Second World War. The first is from Dr Richard Hammond, a member of The Second World War Military Operations Research Group.
Richard Hammond, ‘Air Power and the British Anti-Shipping Campaign in the Mediterranean, 1940-1944’
During the Second World War, the British conducted a sustained campaign of interdiction against Axis supply shipping in the Mediterranean Sea. Air power became a crucial component of this campaign, but was initially highly unsuccessful, delivering few results at a heavy cost. However, a combination of factors, including technical and tactical development, a greater allocation of resources and a higher level of priority being accorded to the campaign, led to vast improvements. By the end of the campaign, the British were conducting highly effective anti-shipping operations, and air power was vital to this in both intelligence gathering and strike roles.
Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris divides public, military and academic opinion like few military figures before or since. For some, Harris was, and remains, a hero of the titanic struggle against Hitler’s Reich and the evil it spawned across Europe; for others he was a fearsome and inspiring leader who sparked great loyalty among those who took to the skies at his command; yet others regard him as a war criminal who evaded prosecution only because he found himself on the winning side. This article will consider another image of Harris, the scapegoat to whom it fell to publicly bear the moral culpability of others who bore greater responsibility for the shedding of blood and innocence in those dark hours when explosives and incendiaries were dropped on the cities of Germany. The paper concludes that to some degree it was his own cussed stoicism and lack of political intuition that made his emergence as scapegoat both convenient and almost inevitable.
RAF Air Power Review is the professional flagship journal of the Royal Air Force and is an open access journal that can be downloaded here.