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The Battle-towns

Battle-towns, or battle-making towns—either term would be appropriate; they are also for the most part the metal-working towns. War has become more and more metallic. Steel is more precious in war than gold. Gold, we are told, no longer matters very much, though some economists hold that without the yellow metal dug from the bowels of the earth modern civilisation would have been impossible. However that may be, it is certain that without the minerals extracted from the same source modern war would be impossible. (Even if an age of plastics succeeds that of steel the ultimate origin will still be the same.) It was inevitable, therefore, that when the air was mastered, the centres where the metals are fashioned into weapons of war should tend to become the theatre of conflict. Even in the stone age an enemy would have seen the advantage of preventing flints from being knapped or made into battle-axes for his undoing.

The instrument that has made assault upon the sources of an enemy's armament possible is itself metallic. There is steel in it, but still more is there the light metallic alloy whose use enables it to overcome those natural forces which limit man's ability to utilise the pathways of the air for the purpose of offence. That alloy, too, is transformed and made lethal in the centres of armament. To those centres the venue of battle has tended inevitably to shift with the coming of the era of human flight. Battles by land and sea there still are and still will be. The clash of encounter must always take place in part in the setting which our forefathers knew. But over and above these contacts of

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armies and fleets there are others which man's new power to use the air for his warlike ventures has made inevitable. It has been a consequence—the logical consequence—of that new power that areas which had hitherto been immune from the ravages of war should no longer be left in the enjoyment of their ancient peace.

The tide of war has begun to lap round the bounds of all the places where are made the arms to be used in the encounters on sea or land or in the air. Indeed, it began to flow in the last war. The battle-towns had their origin then. What has happened is only that the problem, which that war first posed for statesmen and strategists and which was then a minor one, has become a major and far more complicated problem today.

The Power of the Machine

Today machinery dominates war. Man is a pigmy beside the robots of scientific destruction which he has created; or, did he really create them? Is man in truth the maker of the machine or only the machine's way of making a new machine, its instrument for propagating its kind? One would think when one looks on the baleful, malign, ingeniously destructive machines which are used in war today that there is a soul, a very evil soul, lurking somewhere in them. And it is these monstrosities, these half human half-devilish monstrosities, which get themselves born, somehow, in the battle-towns. That is the grim fact which makes those towns fit brand for the burning.

The killer-machines are made necessarily in crowded centres. They could not otherwise be made in the quantities which modern warfare demands. The Moloch consumes armaments with an appetite which only mass-production can satisfy. An enormous and sustained output of munitions is needed if the armed forces, of sizes un-

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known in the past, are to be kept supplied with the matériel which they use. Mass-production implies, in turn, the presence of great numbers of workers, male and female, in the neighbourhood of the plants. Naturally, especially in a prolonged war, the workers' families tend to congregate in the same areas. The great urban agglomerations are in fact the areas in which the armament factories that really mater are located.

Pre-fabricated Battle

Now, those areas have become in the march of events battle-areas. It is idle to pretend that they are still the quiet, innocuous towns which they were once. They are not. They are dangerous, lethal, menacing towns—to an enemy. Terrible things—in his eyes—are done in them. Battle begins in them. One must think today of battle as being pre-fabricated. Most of the work of making it has been done before the encounter takes place. The clash of arms is only the final stage, of a process which has had its beginning elsewhere and long before. It could not reach that stage if the arms to be used in it had not been made in the earlier stage whose setting is a battle-town. The tentacles of the battle-monster spread out from the factories to all the theatres of war. To smash or cut them at the centre is to destroy at the same time the power of the extremity. There is as logical a case for a blow at the heart as at the limb, and it may be by far the more damaging blow. Stop the preparing of battle and you stop the making of battle too.

The making of arms is war-making. It cannot be called anything else. It is not non-combatant work. It is a definitely warlike activity which an enemy is entitled by all the means in his power to prevent. He would be failing in his duty to his own country if he did not try to interrupt it. He is entitled to do so by striking at. the battle-towns.

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That right, never clearly recognised in the discussions about strategic bombing, cannot be denied to him. That it was foreseen long before the present war began that the right would be exercised is evident from the precautions which all the belligerent nations had already taken to protect their armament centres from air attack. Many of these centres have now more guns in their perimeters than whole armies used to have in their campaigns a few years ago. The defences of the larger towns in which armaments are made are more powerful than those of many purely military or naval stations. The centres in question have become in a double sense places d'armes.

The Fortress of the Ruhr

Speaking on the Berlin radio on 2 April, 1943, General Quade, the spokesman of the German air force, claimed that the attacks which that air force made on Warsaw and Rotterdam were lawful operations, while the British raids on German towns were not. Warsaw, he stated, was 'a fortress' and Rotterdam 'a pillar of Holland's defence'. What else is Essen—or, indeed, the whole Ruhr, but a fortress? Even before the war began the Ruhr was strongly defended. Goering boasted in August, 1939, that no enemy airman could drop a bomb on it. [1] Since then its defences have been enormously increased. There are about 3,000 guns of all calibres within its bounds; thousands of searchlights, great numbers of observation and radiolocation stations, and a huge host of passive defence personnel. The defences of Berlin and of the north-western ports—Bremen, Emden, Hamburg, Wilhelmshaven and Kiel—are organised on an equally lavish scale. Mr. Elmer Davis, Director of the Office of War Information in the United States, stated on 26 June, 1943, that 30,000 anti-aircraft

1 He said at Essen on 10 August, 1939: Das Ruhrgebiet werden wir auch nicht einer einzigen Bombe feindlicher Flieger ausliefern.


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guns and more than 1,000 fighter planes had been concentrated to protect the cities of north-western Germany. (Presumably what we call western Germany, the Ruhr and the Rhineland, was intended to be included.) Germany was stripped for the battle of the air from the first. She has discarded some more. of her fighting kit in the stress of combat as it progressed; but she had her important towns in battle-dress from the first.

And what a fight they put up, the battle-towns! 'Open towns', forsooth!—our airmen who have been over them would have a swift answer to make to anyone who called them so. They are literally fortresses. Of that there is no shadow of doubt. To attack them is to engage in battle. The bomber crews who venture near them go into the jaws of death. Many come back with their wings and fuselages torn to shreds. Many never come back at all. Our airman's name for the Ruhr—'Happy Valley'—is a grim euphemism for a section of the sky which is about as nearly a mundane reproduction of Dante's Inferno as anything on or above this globe can be. If these towns are not fortresses, if what happens in the air above them is not battle, what on earth are they?

That there was indeed a 'Battle of the Ruhr' was admitted a little belatedly in Germany in the summer of 1943. On 22 June, 1943, for instance, the German radio in an impassioned denunciation of the 'terror raid' of the previous night on Krefeld, ended thus: 'That is the Battle of the Ruhr—moral strength against bombs, and the German people will win this battle too. Germany is on the defensive at present in the Battle of the Ruhr. But it is clear to everybody that there will be a retaliation, and that battle will be remembered one day under the name of one or several British counties.' From such a statement one would infer that the battle was a one-sided affair, with bombs on our side and only moral resolution on the Ger-

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man. The fact that there was a very powerful defence and that 44 of our bombers were missing after that raid was completely ignored.

The Duel of Air and Ground

The attack on such a centre is a colossal battering match between air and ground. The ground tries to blast the air-invaders out of the sky. The air tries to smother the defence under the weight of its attack. Sometimes it succeeds. It did so on the night of 31 July, 1942, when Düsseldorf was visited by a great force of bombers and more than 150 two-ton bombs, as well as a huge weight of other high explosive and incendiary bombs, were dropped in the space of fifty minutes. The effect of the concentrated, massive attack was the 'saturation' of the defences. 'Though Düsseldorf is an arsenal of great importance to the enemy's armed forces,' said an Air Ministry Bulletin on 1 August, 1942, 'and therefore has all the defences that one would expect, the guns and searchlights were confused by the momentum of the bombing. . . . Hundreds of searchlights came on at once and the sky was filled with bursting shells. To overcome such opposition it was necessary that the bombs should fall in a ceaseless rain. They did.'

That was only one of many occasions on which the fury of the onslaught overwhelmed the defence. Another was the attack on Duisburg on the night of 26 April, 1943. The Germans, said the Air Ministry Bulletin of 27 April, 'had packed the Duisburg area with heavy anti-aircraft guns, and searchlights. Outside the town there was a searchlight belt with others inside it, while hundreds of guns put up one of the heaviest barrages which our bombers have encountered, but the defences in spite of their great strength were unable to cope with the attack. Pilots who went in towards the end of the raid reported that the bar-

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rage had fallen off considerably. . . . Towards the end of the raid the port [Duisburg is the largest inland port in Germany] was ablaze with large red fires. One pilot described it as 'a cauldron bubbling with angry molten metal which spurted up every now and then as more and more bombs exploded.' It was then that the defences began to slacken, so much so that one pilot said his chief difficulty was not the anti-aircraft fire but the high winds through which they had to fly to the target.

At Dortmund on the night of 23 May, 1943, the battle again ended in favour of the airmen. This was the first raid in which more than 2,000 tons of high explosive and incendiary bombs were dropped, and the effect of the terrific onslaught was to crush the life out of the defence. 'Flak was fairly intense at the beginning of the raid,' said the Air Ministry Bulletin of 24 May, 'but as the attack developed the flak died down considerably and cones of searchlights split up into twos and threes. "Single searchlights were aimlessly waving about in the sky," said a pilot, "as if the defences couldn't stand up to the weight of bombs. I was one of the last to bomb and the flak had become so moderate that it didn't worry us." '

'At Wuppertal itself the defences gave out,' said the Air Ministry Bulletin describing the raid of the night of 29 May, 1943. 'One pilot said there were only about a dozen heavy guns and one or two searchlights, and later arrivals said there- was no opposition at all.' At the beginning of the raid on Düsseldorf on the night of 11 June, 'the barrage was fairly intense but it was soon overwhelmed by the weight of the attack, very few guns firing at the end.' At Krefeld on the night of 21 June the defence was overborne again. 'The defences there were slow to open up,' said the Bulletin of 22 June, 'and when they did so they were soon overwhelmed by the weight of the attack. The cones of searchlights wavered and broke up.'

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In the attack on the Kalk and Deutz districts of Cologne on the night of 3 July the defences were very strong at first; the searchlights were massed into three big cones and a curtain of flak was poured into the spaces between. 'Later arrivals found that the defences had slackened off considerably and by the end of the attack were comparatively ineffective,' said the Bulletin of 4 July, which quoted a pilot's remark: 'We simply pounded them and flattened them out.'

The Battle of Essen

Nowhere has the battle been fiercer than at Essen. There the Krupps armament works, covering 800 acres and employing 75,000 workers, became naturally a magnet to draw our bombers to the city. It has been raided again and again. The greatest attack up to that time took place on the night of 5 March, 1943, when nearly a thousand tons of bombs were dropped on it. Sir Archibald Sinclair, the Secretary of State for Air, described it as the heaviest blow of the war (to date) at the German war industry. The devastation, which covered one area of 160 acres, another of 32 acres, and other smaller areas, was comparable to that caused at Cologne by the 'thousand-bomber-raid' of 30 May, 1942. Vehicle-assembly shops, furnace and tempering shops, foundries, billet-rolling mills, sheet-metal shops, machine shops and many other buildings were destroyed or damaged in the raid.

A week passed and the night of 12 March, 1943, saw the battle of Essen flare up again. It was a battle indeed. 'The searchlights, in several huge cones; made a wall of light through the north of Essen,' said the Air Ministry Bulletin of 13 March. 'Intense flak was being fired up into the centre of the cone. "We got the impression that the defences were being very, intelligently directed," said a Lancaster captain. "They were certainly ready for us, and


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wherever I looked I could see other bombers lit up by the searchlights." Almost every crew described how they saw other bombers twisting and turning in the searchlight cone, and how they were themselves caught by the beam. But the bombing was so rapid and heavy that as the attack progressed the flak began to die away and the searchlights nearest to the target were gradually doused.' Our attack had overborne Essen's defence.

What of the battlefield after it? There the scene was almost incredible. So tremendous was the damage that it could not be concealed in Germany. Five or six days after the raid of 12 March an Essen newspaper wrote: 'The extent of the damage caused by the raid—the heaviest yet suffered by a German town—cannot yet be ascertained. Across the ruins and the débris one has a wide view of the space formerly occupied by buildings, and the streets and squares present an amazing sight. They are changed to such an extent that one has to rely on memory to recall what they used to look like.' This, in view of the German policy of minimising the amount of the damage caused by our bombers, was a most significant admission. It showed unmistakably how that particular battle had ended.

Essen, however, is a vast fortress, and the assault on it had to be renewed. On the night of 3 April it was attacked again. The aerial photographs taken after the heavy attack of that night were particularly clear. Usually the thick industrial haze over the works obscures the details, but on this occasion there was no haze when the reconnaissance aircraft flew over the town two days after the raid. There was no haze because most of the factories were out of action and no smoke was belching from their chimneys. Krupps had practically been brought to a standstill. The photographs showed that machine-shops, steel works, billet-rolling mills, forges, stores and sheds had been destroyed or damaged over tens of thousands of square

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yards. The railways had also suffered severely, and a colliery was badly damaged. The bombing had been highly concentrated and most of the damage inflicted was to be seen within the Krupps works, though districts to the south and south-west of the factory had also suffered severely.

Never was the pattern of battle more clearly traced than in the great attack of the night of 27 May, 1943. Ten waves of our bombers swept in succession over the town and for fifty minutes showered upon it their loads of 4,000 lb. and 8,000 lb. bombs as well as a huge weight of other high-explosive and incendiary bombs. It was the old cavalry charge revived in a new and more terrible form in which artillery of the air seemed also to have a place. The defence was powerful but could not stand up to such an onslaught. All over the Ruhr, which had been subjected to six devastating raids in May, the defences had been strengthened. Some commentators stated that the personnel and matériel assembled in the region were the equivalent of fifty divisions of troops. That was the order, of the defensive array which our bomber crews had to face when they 'went over the top'. The anti-aircraft fire was particularly violent on that night, our crews reported. The bombers had to drive forward through a barrage of fire and steel; the whole sky seemed to be full of bursting shells and many machines had their fuselages and wings riddled and tattered, but only a tiny minority failed to penetrate the curtain of fire. Nearly all put, down their loads just where they intended. The result was impressive. 'The fires appeared to weld themselves into a solid mass over a large area,' said one pilot. We lost twenty-three bombers in that battle, but that was a small price to pay for the military damage caused to Germany.

The moral of it all was drawn in a broadcast on the Algiers radio, in French, on 28 May. 'But for the mighty

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British air raids on the town of Essen, with its vast Krupps armament works, Hitler would have been able to equip fully many additional German army corps. That is the meaning of the British air blows on the Ruhr.'

A Fierce Engagement

One of the fiercest engagements in the battle of the Ruhr was fought on the night of 24 June, 1943, when a strong force of our bombers attacked the industrial town of Elberfeld. This town and Barmen form together the city of Wuppertal, one of the most important of Germany's armament centres. Barmen had been heavily raided on the night of 29 May, when more than a thousand acres were devastated and the town was, indeed, almost wiped off the map. The Germans were evidently determined that the twin town of Elberfeld should not suffer a like fate. They massed defences around it and strengthened also those which shielded the Ruhr to the north. Our bombers had to face scores of searchlights and a very heavy barrage immediately they crossed the Belgian coast on the night of 24 June. The crews reported that there had been a great increase in the defences on the coast, to which the outer ring of protection had been pushed out. They ran into worse trouble still when they reached the Ruhr. Great belts of searchlights, twenty or thirty in each cone, tried to pick them up and antiaircraft guns of various calibres fired at them up the beams. One pilot was held for twenty minutes by the searchlights and was hit several times before he reached the target area. The defences of Düsseldorf and Cologne co-operated with those of Elberfeld in a desperate attempt to beat off the raiders.

There were scores of night-fighters in action, too. Some crews saw four or five on their way to the objective. Many duels were fought by bombers and fighters. Still, through

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searchlights, flak and opposition in the air the bombers won through and put down their loads where they intended. 'Great damage appears to have been done,' said the Air Ministry communiqué on the following day. How great it was could be judged from an admission by Dr. Karl Holzhammer, the German radio commentator, on 25 June. 'The town,' he said, 'is still hidden under clouds of flames and smoke. The desolation and devastation are a sight so terrific, so infernal, that no human imagination can visualise it.'

There were hosts of night-fighters in the air again four nights later, when a very heavy attack was made upon Cologne. Indeed, that battle was mainly fought many thousands of feet up in the sky and the bombers and the fighters were the contestants. There was much cloud over the Rhineland and the searchlights were therefore at a disadvantage; the guns maintained a powerful barrage, however, and heavy flak came up through the clouds. It was above the cloud-bank that the most bitter fighting occurred. The Northern Lights lit up the sky and the bombers were silhouetted against the cloud surface below. For the fighters the conditions were ideal. They attacked in swarms. 'A Polish pilot said that at one moment he saw nine combats going on simultaneously,' an Air Ministry Bulletin stated on 29 June. 'Stirling crews alone reported fourteen engagements.' We lost twenty-five bombers on that night, but, despite the adverse conditions, the attack was well concentrated and immense damage was caused in the industrial parts of Cologne.

The battle of the night of 9 August, 1943, when the twin towns of Mannheim and Ludwigshafen were raided, was again fought above the clouds. The Germans had to rely mainly on their night-fighters, which accosted our bombers as soon as they crossed the coast and followed them all the way to the target. 'Despite the fighters,' said the

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Air Ministry Bulletin. of 1o August, 'our aircraft arrived promptly over the target. While the ground gunners put up a blind barrage, the searchlight crews concentrated on lighting up the base of the clouds so that the bombers would be silhouetted for the fighters. Combats took place over the target, both, bombers and fighters firing at one another while the flak was bursting round them.' Our crews bombed through gaps in the clouds and did so with such effect that very soon there sprang up great fires the glow of which was visible nearly a hundred miles away.

The fierce air combats which were waged above Munich on the night of 6 September, 1943, were fought in conditions resembling those of day. The. Germans made frantic efforts to protect Hitler's precious city. They used hundreds of searchlights and light and heavy guns; to help their night-fighters they laid an aerial flare path for the purpose of illuminating the raiders. The flares, dropped from great heights, took as much as twenty minutes to fall to the ground. One pilot saw forty of them falling at one time. The device cut-both ways. If it helped the fighters to find the bombers, it helped the latter to see and shoot down the fighters. There were scores of air combats. One pilot saw three fighters being shot down over the town—one hitting the ground and two falling in flames—at the same time. Every kind of fighter was put up that night—Me 109, Me 110, Me 210, Ju 88, Fw 190, Do 217—but Munich was battered and burnt for all that they could do. Our bomber crews saw the fires there burning when they were 150 miles away on their homeward flight.

The Battle of Hamburg

Not even Essen itself experienced so terrible a period of tribulation as that through which Hamburg passed in the last week of July, 1943. The great port had been bombed repeatedly during the three years that were gone, but the

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storms and trials which it had had to endure were all surpassed by its sufferings in the cyclone which swept it in those seven days and nights of fire and flame. It was raided six times by night and twice by daylight in that week, and of the raids by night three were mammoth affairs in each of which 2,300 tons of bombs were dropped. The total weight dropped on the city in the seven days was 7,500 tons—a weight as great as that dropped on London during the whole period of the German air offensive in 1940-41. The maximum tonnage ever deposited on London in a night was 450. No city in the world has ever endured such a colossal, concentrated battering as did Hamburg in that week. What the effect was may be inferred from the ejaculations of one German radio commentator (Dr. Carl Hofman): 'Terror . . . terror . . . terror . . . pure, naked, bloody terror.'

That was an admission that the attack had overborne the defence. As in the Ruhr, so at Hamburg the Germans had left nothing undone to convert the whole area into a place d'armes. The defences were very considerably strengthened as raid succeeded raid. New guns and more searchlights were brought into use and the number of night fighters was increased. But nothing could stand up to the fire and fury of the onslaught. The bombers went through and the high explosive and incendiaries went down. Huge conflagrations sprang up everywhere. To help to overcome them the fire brigades from Bremen and Hanover were called in aid, but the fires were never entirely quenched during all the week. Our bomber crews arriving for the later attacks found the fires started in earlier raids still burning.

The Incidental Damage to Property

The centres of war-production, it has already been stated, are large towns. They are sometimes, too, old

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towns in which there are buildings of historic association and cultural interest. Inevitably damage is sustained by such buildings in the course of attacks which are directed against military objectives and which, in view of the powerful nature of the defence, can be delivered only in conditions which make absolute precision of aim impracticable. Naturally it is upon the damage to the non-military property that the German official reports have most to say. They were eloquent about the burning of St. Hedwigs church in Berlin in the raid of the night of 1 March, 1943, when considerable damage was caused to buildings which our airmen most certainly would have spared if they could. They said nothing about the incidents which really made that raid important. One would never have guessed from the enemy's account of it that it was one of the most damaging blows ever struck at his war potential. The factories destroyed or severely damaged included the Telefunken and the Blaupunkt wireless works, the Askania instrument works, the motor repair works of the Auto-Union A.G. and of the Klocken-Humboldt-Deutz A.G., the roller-bearings factory of Deutsche-Timken, the works of the Reichs Telegrafen Zeugamt, the lorry repair factory of G. Lindner A.G., the chemical works of H. Schwartzkopf, and many other plants. The most serious damage of all was probably that caused to the Templehof railway yards, where workshops covering twenty acres were destroyed. The destruction of churches and historic buildings, lamentable though it was, was relatively insignificant when set against the enormously important military results achieved by the raid.

Nuremberg and Munich

It is stupid and unprofitable to wreck an enemy's beautiful buildings. It only harms the destroyer. It makes the people whose treasures are lost see red, makes them more

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determined to go on. We know that as well as any people. We have seen our beautiful Wren churches and many an other historic building destroyed, and it has only made us angry. We may assume that the re-action in Germany is the same. To say 'Oh, these Huns began the war and they have to be taught a lesson' is merely to be childish. Yes, teach them that war does not pay, but do not descend to vandalism. It is to shame the cause for which we are in arms to wreck the common heritage of humanity. Nevertheless, war cannot be waged without risk of the destruction of many things which all would desire to preserve. The destruction of them is the incidental and unavoidable consequence of a lawful operation of war—the attacking of the sources of an enemy's munitionment. Whatever the Germans may have felt about their raids on Canterbury or Bath, it was certainly no satisfaction to the Royal Air Force, or the British people as a whole, that the cathedrals at Lizbeck or Mainz should be wrecked. So, too, nothing but regret would be felt in this country for such damage to historic buildings as occurred in the raid of 8 March, 1943, upon Nuremberg. The famous 15th century Mauthalle was destroyed on that occasion, as well as the museum and other old buildings. 'Little does our enemy think of the cruelty and sorrow he inflicts on our women and children,' said a German paper after this raid. 'He has no pity. . . . We hate this kind of warfare.' Yes, no doubt; but they hated it most of all for other than aesthetic or humanitarian reasons. They hated it because it caused irreparable damage to Germany's war-industries. In that raid on Nuremberg the M.A.N. factory, which makes Diesel engines, was wrecked; in the Siemens electrical works two thirds of one workshop covering five acres was destroyed; and a number of other buildings in the factory were gutted. The fires were still smouldering there when the town was photographed from the air two days after the

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raid. At the railway workshops one large repair shop covering nearly five acres was gutted, and another area of devastation of sixteen acres was to be seen in the neighbouring railway sidings and goods yards, which were swept by fire. The plants of a number of establishments manufacturing or processing tools and engineering supplies, selenium discs for wireless rectifiers, electrical equipment, etc., were severely damaged. Many of the buildings were completely burnt out. It was all this devastation which gave the battle of Nuremberg its importance. The incidental damage to the historic or cultural buildings was deeply to be regretted, both for the intrinsic loss and because it gave the German propagandists a good talking point, but militarily it was of very small importance.

On the next night (9 March, 1943) Munich was raided. Here again a number of fine old buildings sustained damage. Three of the world-famous picture galleries of the city—the Pinakothek, the Shack and the Glyptothek—were stated to have been destroyed. Again there were denunciations of our airmen in the German Press and on the radio, denunciations which, one may surmise, were inspired as much by Nazi rage at the damaging of the Brown House as by regret for the art galleries. Not a word was said about the industrial targets which were hit, or about the fact that the galleries were fairly close to the railway terminus which, in view of Munich's importance as a centre of transportation, was a legitimate objective. Munich is also an armament centre; there are in it plants which construct submarine engines, aero-engines, tanks, armoured cars, hand grenades and motor tyres. It is, in fact, one of the Jekyll and Hyde cities of Germany. It has a dual personality and it was the bad and dangerous Munich that had to be put out of action, which could not be done without danger to the Munich which all civilised peoples would wish to be spared.

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Cologne is another town of dual character, and it is one in which the good and evil elements (in the opposing belligerent's eyes) are very closely intermingled. The Cathedral is near the main railway station, and the latter is, in view of the city's importance as a centre of transportation, a legitimate objective. In the heavy raid of the night of 28 June, 1943, both the station and the Cathedral were damaged; the German communiqué was very explicit about the latter damage but silent about the former. There are, of course, a great number of other military targets also in Cologne.

The Destruction of Dwellings

Towns in which armaments are produced on a large scale are necessarily large towns. A town without a considerable supply of labour could not undertake mass-production, and in any case, such a town would not really be worth an enemy's powder and shot. It is on the centres of population that the blows struck in the strategic air offensive are therefore likely to fall. Inevitably those blows must fall often on private dwellings. Apart from the houses of the workers in the vicinity of the war-factories, the residential districts as a whole may suffer when the attack on the military objectives in or around the town is delivered at night and aim is made more difficult by blinding searchlights and a fierce artillery barrage. Here again, we in Britain know only too well how private property can suffer under air attack. In the raids upon this country in 1940-42 some 2,750,000 houses in England and Wales were damaged, [1] and it is a safe assumption that the great majority were private dwellings. In Germany the number may be greater still, but no figures have been disclosed in that country. Some 3,000 houses were entirely destroyed when Lübeck was raided on the night of 28 Marches 1942.

1 Statement by Mr. Ernest Brown on 13 November, 1942.

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The damage done at Rostock in the four nights, 23 to 26 April, 1942, was greater still; between 80,000 and 100,000 were evacuated after these raids as compared with 30,000 people from Lubeck. A year later, on the night of 20 April, 1943, Stettin, Rostock's neighbour, had its time of tribulation. An area of a hundred acres was devastated and many factories and depots were wrecked; the Neptune ship-building yard was particularly hard hit. 40,000 people were reported to have been made homeless by the raid, which dislocated the life of the town for a week, no water, gas or electricity being available. In the Pommerensdorf area alone 1,400 houses were destroyed. The number displaced from Cologne after the 'thousand-bomber-raid' of 30 May, 1942, was far greater still; according to a Vichy report of 14 June, 1942, some 250,000 people were removed. The destruction of dwellings at Düsseldorf on the night of 10 September, 1942, when 380 acres were devastated, was on a comparable scale. Nearly 200,000 people were made homeless, mainly as a result of the conflagrations caused by the 100,000 incendiaries dropped on that night. The fires took such a 'hold upon the town that the fire-brigades had to fight them for two days. 'Düsseldorf has become a regular city of ruins,' said a letter from a German in Düsseldorf to another in Berlin. The evacuations from other raided towns in the Ruhr and the Rhineland have reached a total which must run into many hundreds of thousands. Certainly Bomber Command, if it has done nothing else, has proved itself an efficient organiser of mass-migrations. The cities of northern Italy know that as well as those of Germany. There were large evacuations from Milan, Turin and Genoa after the raids of November-December, 1942. It was mainly as a result of them that the population of Rome rose from 1,115,000 in 1940 to nearly 2,000,000 in January, 1943. Later Rome itself had begun to send its dwellers forth into the great

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open spaces before Italy dropped out of the war on 8 September.

Mr. Churchill's Advice

Mr. Churchill, in his broadcast speech of 10 May, 1942, gave the German population some good advice. He reaffirmed our intention to bomb all the cities 'in which the vital industries of the German war machine are established.' 'The civil population of Germany,' he went on, 'have an easy way to escape from these severities. All they have to do is to leave the cities where munition work is being carried on, abandon this work and go out into the fields and watch the home fires burning from a distance. In this way they may find time for meditation and repentance. There they may remember the millions of Russian women and children they have driven out to perish in the snows, and the mass executions of peasants and prisoners of war which in varying scales they are inflicting upon so many of the ancient and famous peoples of Europe. There they may remember that it is the villainous Hitlerite régime which is responsible for dragging Germany through misery and slaughter to ultimate ruin, and that the tyrant's overthrow is the first step to world liberation.'

Over a year later, on 19 May, 1943, Mr. Churchill, in his speech before the United States Congress, underlined the warning which he had then addressed to the German people. 'It is the settled policy of our two staff's and war-making authorities,' he said, 'to make it impossible for Germany to carry on any form of war industry on a large or concentrated scale, either in Germany, Italy or in the enemy-occupied countries. Wherever these centres exist or are developed they will be destroyed, and the munitions population will be dispersed.' The message conveyed to the German munition workers in the two speeches, read together and colloquially paraphrased, amounted to this:

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'Get out while the going is good. If you don't, we'll bomb you out.'

It was also the message addressed to the Italians in a broadcast from Allied Headquarters at Algiers on 18 June, 1943. The Allied Air Forces, it stated, had been ordered to bomb Italian war industries and lines of communications working for the Axis, but had no wish to annihilate the innocent civilian population. 'Therefore the Allied High Command advises you to leave the neighbourhood of these objectives and to take your families to safe places.'

Suburban and Residential Districts

Much is heard in the German official reports of the damage caused in suburban and other residential districts by our raids. Nothing is ever said about the fact that the war-factories are often in the same districts. In Berlin the industrial belt is largely in the suburbs. That was why in the raid of the night of 1 March, 1943, there was considerable destruction of property in the western. and southwestern parts of the city, and as a result a number of residential districts had to be evacuated. The heavy casualties and widespread destruction of dwelling houses in Cologne on the night of 30 May, 1942, was due in some measure to the fact that the town's industries are largely located in the suburbs of Koln Mulheim and Koln Kalk, though there are also in the city itself important plants producing machinery, chemicals, rubber and small arms. 'Things are worst in the old town and the business quarters, but the suburbs have also suffered severely,' wrote a correspondent who had visited Cologne some months after the raid. 'Everywhere there are burnt-out ruins; whole streets are devastated.' Areas covering 5,000 acres in all were devastated in that great raid. Naturally they included a large number of private houses—but they also included very many factories, and it was the destruction

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or damaging of 250 of these which justified the attack and made it worth while as an operation of war.

The Bomb Splash

It would be idle to deny that the use of 4,000 lb. and 8,000 lb. bombs has enlarged enormously the radius within which private property is likely to be destroyed or damaged when a military target is aimed at in a built-up area. The bomb-splash is a mighty one when bombs of that size are dropped, and inevitably its effect is felt over an area far exceeding that in which it was expected before this war that incidental damage would be caused. It was foreseen that very large bombs might be used in a future war and that the destruction which they would spread would embrace a circle several times larger than that within which houses were damaged when a 1000 kilogram bomb was dropped in Warrington Crescent, Paddington, on 7 March, 1918. One writer drew from that incident the lesson that the effect of the dropping of one 5,000 lb. bomb in Parliament Square and another on Horse Guards Parade would be to leave little of administrative London standing. [1] Fortunately, Whitehall, though it has suffered, has not had the unpleasant experience of meeting the impact of a bomb even nearly so large as that, still less one of the colossal size which our airmen have frequently dropped on German towns. How terrible the effect of such monster projectiles can be we shall not know for certain until the Germans see fit to disclose exactly what happened to Dortmund on the night of 23 May, 1943, when an exceptionally large number of them was dropped. There is reason to believe that the effect was appalling. The photograph published in The Times and other papers on 3 June gives some idea of the devastation.

The big bombs are the answer of the attack to the in-

1 Frank Morrison, War on Great Cities, 1937, pp. 191-4.


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tensification of the defence. The anti-aircraft barrage had been made so powerful that bombing was becoming ineffective and indeed almost a waste of effort. The military results of the so-called high-level, precision bombing were not commensurate with the wastage of personnel and matériel involved for the attacking formations. To redress the balance it, was necessary to bring. into use projectiles of such destructive capacity that when launched from great heights on the estimated target area they could be counted upon to wreck the target as well as (unfortunately) much else besides. The justification of the method must rest on military necessity. If in no other way can a belligerent destroy his enemy's armament centres or interrupt his enemy's process of munitionment, then this way can be defended. So justified, it is not inconsistent with accepted principles of the laws of war.

The Weather Factor

Our methods have been criticised on the ground that they amount in effect to indiscriminate bombing when the target cannot be identified because of the darkness or cloud. Weather, often the bombing airman's enemy, is sometimes his friend. Cloud, especially if it is accompanied by icing, hampers him, but it protects him, too. It makes the task not only of the searchlight crews and the ground gunners but also that of the night-fighter pilots more difficult. Clear, moonlight conditions help the defence. Nor does thick weather preclude effective bombing. That was demonstrated by the results of the raid of the night of 30 April, 1943, on Essen. It is apparent from the report that our bomber crews could not see what the results of the attack were, but subsequent reconnaissance showed that they were highly successful, sixty acres in the Krupps works being devastated. A still more notable instance was the raid of the night of 11 February, 1943, on

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Wilhelmshaven. The weather was very bad and the bombing was necessarily more or less 'blind'. The crews could see little of what was happening below but they did agree in reporting one huge explosion which could not be attributed even to the bursting of an 8,000 lb. bomb. The explanation of it came later. It was the result of a direct hit on the Mariensiel ammunition depot, in which torpedoes, mining materials, depth charges and other explosives were stored. The explosive material was stored in fifty long sheds and forty of these were destroyed, the devastation covering an area of 150 acres. Here was a case in which a military result of the first importance was achieved in conditions in which precise aiming at a defined target was entirely out of the question.

Daylight Bombing

It has been suggested that the incidental destruction of non-military property could be avoided if bombing were carried out by daylight only. Actual experience does not support this contention. In the daylight raid on Milan on 24 October, 1942, our bombers, according to the Italian report, damaged churches, schools and hospitals as well as many residential buildings (nothing was said, of course, about the military damage). Quite possibly they did, but it was assuredly not intentional. The daylight, raids conducted by the United States 8th Air Force and the American heavy bombers serving in General Doolittle's Strategic Air Force appear also to have caused damage to nonmilitary objectives—and again we may be sure that the result was an undesired one. The sights used by the American bomber crews are remarkably efficient and the bombing is careful and accurate, but it is evident that it does not preclude the damaging of innocuous buildings in the vicinity of the target. At any rate, civilian life and property appear to have suffered in the daylight raids of 5

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September, 1942, on Rouen, of 4 December, 1942, on Naples, of 1 March, 1943, on Palermo, of 8 March, 1943, on Rouen and Rennes, and of 26 April, 1943, on the airfield at Grosseto. The destruction of churches in Palermo was particularly publicised in Italy. Cardinal Lavitrano, the Archbishop of Palermo, stated that 'innumerable beautiful churches' were damaged, including the 12th century Basilica San Francesco, and he spoke of 'indescribable' destruction in the town.

When the Flying Fortresses of the United States 8th Air Force attacked the Renault works at Billancourt On 4 April, 1943, 300 people were killed and 1,000 wounded, accorded to the radio announcement at Paris on 5 April, in this 'American raid on a Paris suburb'. The Berlin radio stated that a station on the Paris underground railway received a direct hit and that many people sheltering in it were killed. Neither Paris nor Berlin alluded to the not irrelevant detail that hardly a single important building in the Renault works escaped damage in this highly successful raid. The Italian communiqué was equally reticent about the military results of the raid by American Flying Fortresses on the naval base at Leghorn on 28 May, 1943. It said that 'very considerable damage was caused to public and private buildings' but forebore to add that railways, shipyards, and an oil refinery were wrecked as well.

The Double Dividend in Daylight Raids

Daylight raiding has one advantage over night attack in that it yields a double dividend, as it were, as compared With the single return accruing from the other kind of bombing. Not only does it destroy the enemy's armaments on the ground, or hinder the manufacture of them, but, very frequently, it puts out of action in air combat a number of his fighter aircraft. Bombers sometimes shoot down enemy fighters at night, but the numbers so de-

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stroyed are insignificant in comparison with those accounted for not infrequently in the daylight raids. The twofold character of the return seemed almost to be underlined in the daylight raid of 17 April, 1943, on Bremen. The Flying Fortresses put more than half the Focke-Wulf factory out of commission and shot down 63 German fighters (including, it may be assumed, Focke-Wulf as well as Messerschmitt machines) into the bargain. The raid was thus a double blow at Germany's establishment of fighter aircraft. A still larger number was destroyed in the raids on Kiel, Antwerp and Courtrai on 14 May, when the American bombers shot down 67 enemy fighters. They improved on that figure on 21 May, when they destroyed 74 German fighters in the course of the attacks on Wilhelmshaven and Emden. A still finer dividend was returned in the raid on Wilhelmshaven and Cuxhaven on 11 June; 85 and possibly 105 German fighters were claimed by the Flying Fortress crews. In the raid on Kiel and Bremen two days later 65 were shot down, and a total of nearly 100 was accounted for in the American daylight raids on the Ruhr and Antwerp on 22 June, and on northwest Germany on 25 June. (The Germans claimed that their fighters prevented the bombers from reaching their objectives in the last raid.) The return given by the attacks of 17 August, 1943, on factories in Schweinfurt and Regensburg was the highest. No less than 307 enemy fighters were shot down in these two great raids, 287 by the bombers and 20 by supporting Thunderbolts. It must be particularly galling to the German production-executives to find their matériel thus subjected to a double wastage.

It should be added that, quite apart from the destruction of enemy fighters in combat, the American heavy bombers have been and are performing work of the very highest importance by their daylight raiding of individual targets in Germany. Their deeply penetrating incursions

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are an essential part of the Anglo-Arnerican strategic bombing programme. They supplement by precision-bombing the offensive conducted at night by our Bomber Command against target areas. Perhaps the most notable instances of the successful work which they have accomplished are the wrecking of the synthetic rubber factory at Huls, near Recklinghausen, on 22 June, 1943, and the attacks on the ball and roller bearing works at Schweinfurt and the Messerschmitt factory at Regensburg in the raids of 17 August referred to in the preceding paragraph.

The losses suffered by the defending fighters are augmented in the supporting and diversionary sweeps which usually take place at the same time as the daylight bombing raids. The battle of the towns then ranges far afield. It may be fought out a hundred miles or more from the industrial centre which the bombers are attacking. It is the raid on the town which is its centre-piece, however, and the duels in the air, though fought far distant from the bombers' objective, are actions related and subsidiary to that main operation.

The Changed German Tune

The Germans gloried in the battles of the towns when the battles were one-sided and the towns were the enemy's. It is a very different matter today, when the towns are German. The change which has taken place in German feeling about the matter was referred to by Mr. Churchill in his broadcast of 10 May, 1942, already quoted in this chapter. Hitler's conversion to humanitarian sentiment had come too late, he said. It should have taken place 'before he bombed Warsaw or massacred 20,000 Dutch folk in defenceless Rotterdam or wreaked his cruel vengeance upon the open city of Belgrade.' In those early days 'the German propaganda films, thinking to terrorise neutral countries and glorying in devastating violence,

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were wont to show rows of great German bombers being loaded up with bombs, then flying in the air in battle array, then casting down showers of bombs upon the defenceless towns and villages, choking them in smoke and flame. All this was intended to make the world believe that resistance to the German will was impossible and that subjugation and slavery was the safest and easiest road.'


'Those days are gone,' said Mr. Churchill. With their passing there has come to the Germans a great light. They are beginning to realise for the first time that war is not the great and glorious adventure which they have always thought it was. If Bomber Command had done nothing else it would have performed an inestimable service for civilisation by driving that lesson home. It has taught a race of itching warriors that there is something after all in the old and still valid Golden Rule.


German Propaganda

Meanwhile, all the arts of German propaganda are employed to misrepresent what is really happening in the battles of the towns. The British raids are described as random attacks on the civilian population, as 'terror raids', as having no other object than the slaughter of women, children and other non-combatants. In Italy, too, the game of misrepresentation and vilification was played with gusto before that country surrendered. Mario Apellius, the radio commentator of Rome, for instance, denounced on 30 November, 1942, the '100 per cent barbarity of British bombers'. 'They drop their bombs at random on the centres of towns,' he said. 'Not the war factories but the heart of Italy is the target.' The aid of the Spanish Press has been enlisted in the campaign. There, too, the cruelty and uselessness of the bombing of towns have been the subject of much eloquent comment. Mr.


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Eden, the British Foreign Secretary, referred to it in a speech of 28 May, 1943, when he pointed out that not a voice had been raised in Spain when Germany was bombing towns 'in Poland, Holland and Britain, and that protests had begun to be made only when Germany and Italy were the sufferers. He declared unequivocally that we would not be deterred by intervention from any quarter from continuing to conduct our strategic offensive.

Not all neutral countries re-acted to. the German and Italian propaganda in the same way as Spain. In Turkey there was little disposition to take Dr. Goebbels' and his friends' efforts very seriously. At the beginning of June, 1943, M. Ahmed Shukri Esmer, a member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, contributed to the official periodical Ullus of Ankara an article from which some extracts were quoted in The Times of 4 June, 1943. He stated that the question who dropped the first bomb on enemy territory, difficult to determine in itself, was immaterial and irrelevant. 'What matters,' he said, 'is to ascertain which side began massive and indiscriminate air raids on undefended cities, thereby causing heavy casualties among the civilian populations. Warsaw, Rotterdam and Belgrade answer that question. But even assuming that the attacks on those cities, by stretching the argument, could be explained up to a certain point by the fact that they were carried out in conjunction with land operations, the "blitzing" of London, Coventry and other British cities is indefensible.'

'Had the Nazis won the war,' M. Esmer said later in his article, 'they would have glorified their cleverness in catching their enemy unawares and unprepared, and in having achieved an easy victory by "blitz" tactics of their own invention with little loss to the German people. Now that the tide of war has turned against them they have suddenly become very sensitive about the question of who is

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responsible for having started the bombing of open cities. Evidently the Nazis are beginning to be conscious of the terrible responsibility they have incurred not only towards world opinion but towards their own people.'

If Hitler had been a man of far-ranging vision—if, in fact, his 'intuition' had been worth its salt—he would never have sent the Luftwaffe to batter Warsaw in September, 1939. He would have used the artillery of the German army to reduce the city and kept the bombers away from it. Then he might have come into the controversy about the bombing of towns with clean hands. As it was he chose to set a precedent for the bombing of centres of population in this war at its very outset and thereby prejudiced his position as the advocate of the mutual abandonment by the belligerents of the practice of strategic bombing. In short, it was he who really began the battles of the towns. He is probably very sorry now that he ever did so.