“Bomber” Harris and His Royal Air Force Bomber Command
Controversial 'Bomber' Harris shaped the British strategic air offensive against Nazi Germany as head of the Royal Air Force Bomber Command.
By Michael D. Hull Racing his Bentley at breakneck speed between his High Wycombe headquarters and the Air Ministry during World War II, Air Marshal Arthur Travers Harris was the bane of motorcycle policemen on the London road. [text_ad] Late one night, a constable stopped him and said reproachfully, “You might have killed somebody, sir.” Snapped Harris, “Young man, I kill thousands of people every night!” Years later while addressing cadets at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in 1975, Sir Arthur, now elevated to Marshal of the Royal Air Force, stated flatly that had Great Britain lost World War II, the Germans would have tried him as a war criminal. Arthur Harris Played Crucial Role in Defeating Hitler’s Third Reich The burly, mustached, reddish-haired chief of RAF Bomber Command from February 1942 to the war’s end had, indeed, played a crucial role in the defeat of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. His Wellington, Blenheim, Stirling, Halifax, and Lancaster bombers devastated every large German city and killed an estimated 600,000 Germans, the majority women and children. With a firm hand, he directed a relentless “de-housing” campaign designed to oust Germans from their homes (more than a third of Germany’s urban housing was destroyed), to demoralize the populace, and to force Hitler to use the Luftwaffe for defensive rather than offensive purposes. From 1942 onward, when Bomber Command was joined by the formidable U.S. Eighth Air Force,