View Full Version : Bomber Harris: Sir Arthur Harris’ Despatch on War Operations 1942-1945: Grehan, John,

30th October 2021, 19:59
I have just received this volume. I was interested in it as a reference book for the different strategies, tactics and materials, but the editors include an exchange between Harris and the Air Ministry that is quite revealing. Also a separate memo from Sidney Buffton, that was very critical of the document. Lots of eye and finger pointing.

I have attached a couple of pages from this volume that provide Bufton's concluding comments on Harris's Despatch: "Little or no reference has been made in the Bomber Command despatch to the winning of the air war over Europe, It was won almost wholly by the American Strategic Bomber (including fighter) Forces, Bomber Command's contribution being small, and incidental, mainly, to city attacks."

I found this conclusion STUNNING and a rebuke to Bomber Command aircrews. Shame on him when the evidence is overwhelmingly otherwise! Just my not so humble opinion. Bufton was a former CO of two different Bomber Command squadrons. His comments are highly unprofessional! That said Harris's despatch is mostly an "Eye Poke" at the Air Ministry. He just couldn’t resist! Quite frankly it could have been so much more than that and sadly Harris himself was responsible for that. Again, just my not so humble opinion. Since after the war, Harris had no standing, his despatch remained unpublished. (They were supposed to be published in the London Gazette).


Hans Valk
13th September 2022, 10:59
I stumbled on this post by chance, it was posted almost a year ago. Seeing your quite angry reaction to Bufton's memo, I could not resist giing my own.

I, personally, do not find Buffton's remarks on who won the air war over Europe completely unjust. The almost complete annihilation of the German daylight fighter force in the first half of 1944 by the fighters of the US 8th Air Force, was the key factor in winning that air war. After the summer of 1944 even Bomber Command could operate over Europe in daylight again. The Luftwaffe was no longer a key factor in the war. This turning point was largely the result of the appearance of the P-51 in the European theatre. I also think that is common knowledge for any student of the air war in Europe.

I'm not sure what you mean by "evidence (that) is overwhelmingly otherwise". There has been much discussion on the contribution of Bomber Command's Strategic Bomber Offensive to the total war effort. My personal view is that it surely did make a considerable contribution, although it did not reach it's ultimate goal. But it must be admitted that Bomber Command's contribution to the destruction of the Luftwaffe has been much smaller than that of the 8th Air Force. If it was "small" in general, as Buffton states, is a matter of opinion. But Buffton was at least partly right in his assesment.