Dresden Bombing 70 Years ago

Discussion in 'All Anniversaries' started by researchingreg, Feb 13, 2015.

  1. researchingreg

    researchingreg Well-Known Member

    The bombing of Dresden seems to be a stick to hit Bomber Command with. I think it was the main reason that a memorial to the men of Bomber Command has been only erected recently.

    I think that 'Bomber' Harris did not have much of a choice but to carpet bomb German cities as when the RAF at the start of the war tried to bomb strategically and accurately all they did was lose aircraft and crews and not hit the targets. So the policy had to change and follow the German type of air raids to bomb the general city areas, civilians included. It was total war. Without Bomber Command's raids, the war would have been longer and more bloody. Therefore the Dresden Bombing was justified.

    Mind you Harris could have used aircraft with less crew members, to cut down losses of aircrew.

    What do forum members think?
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  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Seventy years after the event, the Dresden thread continues to arouse passions amongst contributors to this forum.

    By virtue of the simple fact that many, if not most, of the original participants are no longer with us, it is painfully obvious that it is the more vociferous posters who continue to claim that they and they alone understand what really motivated “Bomber” Harris in those dark and terrible days of World War II.

    May I ask you to consider what it was like to have lived through those times and further ask you to visualise what it was like to have lived through the German bombing of our major cities on a nightly basis? We are not talking hindsight here… you are being asked to imagine yourself as being one of those thousands of civilians who went into their shelters at night and, if they were being truly honest, could not say to themselves “In the morning, I will be alive”.

    My “personal” war started at the tender age of sixteen and, until I was called to arms at the age of nineteen I witnessed, both as a civilian and a Civil Defence worker, the horrors of day and night-time bombing in London.

    My war time service and that of my other four serving brothers is fairly well chronicled on this and other websites and so I will not dwell on it here but I will tell you about my dear brother Jack who, as a Rear Gunner in a Lancaster bomber, died over Nuremberg on the 16th of March 1945.

    Jack survived 14 previous bombing raids, one of which was over Dresden, and during my later research into his death I was given access to various documents including the item shown below which describes a bombing run over Dresden on the 13th of Feb 1945.

    Notice the “Purpose of the raid” as detailed and recorded on the actual night in question.
    It clearly states "The purpose of the raid was to assist the Red Army by causing confusion behind the enemy's lines on the Eastern Front"
    Dresden in 1945 was just another target in the war against the Third Reich and my late brother, who was never to live to have the benefits of hindsight, would have also have regarded it as such.

    Less than five weeks after the raid my brother was killed over Nuremberg and he was never to know of the bitter controversy that would one day arise over the bombing of. Dresden.

    Lest we forget !

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  3. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Well said Ron, I am in total agreement with you.


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  4. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

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  5. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Bomber Command has never been credited with waging the "Second Front" that the Russians were so eager/anxious for the Western Allies to mount.
    A land invasion wasn't possible until 1944, and attempts to do so via the Mediterranean were held up by weather, terrain and a dogged enemy defence.

    Without nightly attacks, considerable manpower and resources such as the 88mm AA/anti tank gun would have been available to use against Russia and perhaps result in a repeat of Russia being defeated and a totally different set of victors for WW2. For that reason alone, pinning so much German resources into defending the Fatherland, that Bomber Command should have been awarded a Campaign medal immediately after ther the War, but look at the way Dowding was also treated, as well as Harris. Once the dirty job had been done, Tommy this and Tommy that....

    Civilians had become de facto "legitimate" targets long before Bomber Command opened its major campaign against Germany. People in glass houses.... etc etc....
    So I don't see any reason to see Dresden, Hamburg, Pforzheim or Coventry, London, Rotterdam or Malta etc as landmarks.
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  6. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

  7. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    After the war, as a very young lad, I would travel to Portsmouth from Stoke by road with an aunt and uncle, I can well remember the flat expanse of land either side of the road as we traveled through Coventry caused by the German air raids. I can also recall the bomb damage in Portsmouth, my uncle would park his car on a bomb site while we traveled to Ryde on the Isle-of-Wight by ferry. My uncle was in the navy during the war, his home port being Portsmouth, we would walk around the city while waiting for the ferry, the bomb damage was very extensive.

    As for the remark re using aircraft with fewer crew, I have to echo Geoff's reply, "How"
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  8. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

  9. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    My late brother's log book unfortunately had never been found but one of his crew-mate, namely Ted Hull, let me have a photo of his own log book that he assured me would have been exactly the same as Jack's.

    Note Friday the 13th Feb and see how they were actually hit by incendiaries from another bomber plane.

    Jack was lucky to survive Dresden but his luck was to run out on the 16th of March..


    Attached Files:

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  10. Tonym

    Tonym WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I agree 100% with Ron; like him I saw my war service as a Civil Defence Messenger and as a teenager I saw my first dead bodies before I was called up, including six of my immediate neighbours, not just dead but many in peices and wondered what the effect would be if the Germans had arrived here. So whilst I sympathise with the innocent casualties of Germany I saw no reason why they ahould not suffer as the innocent casualties of the UK had.
    But for the likes of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki I wonder how many more we would have lost

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  11. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    thank you for posting Ron

    Slightly drifting off topic
    Civilians killed early and late conflict




    Date of Death:



    Civilian War Dead

    Reporting Authority:


    Additional Information:

    Aged 14 months; of 69 Malvern Avenue. Son of Henry and Sarah Bowman. Died at 71 Capthorne Avenue.




    Date of Death:



    Civilian War Dead

    Reporting Authority:


    Additional Information:

    Aged 7 hours; of 3 Kenton Lane, Kenton. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Railton Michaelis. Injured 28 June 1944, at 3 Kenton Lane; died at Harrow and Wealdstone Hospital.

    The baby's mother, Sylvia Michaelis, aged just 22, received multiple cuts and was treated at the same hospital. It made me shiver, too, when I saw the age of baby Alan.

    Michaelis Sylvia Passed away peacefully in Donnington House on April 13, 2012, aged 90 years. Sylvia was the beloved wife of Railton, to whom she had been married for 70 years. She was the loving mother to John, Linda, Kelvin and Colin as well as grandmother to 13 grandchildren, and great grandmother to 12 great grandchildren. Memorial Service to take place on Monday, April 30, 2012, in Chichester Baptist Church at 2.00 p.m.

    Link here re Dresden

  12. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    Had the war turned out differently, do you suppose that Hitler, Goering, Goebbels et al would be agonising over the civilians killed in Britain? And, more to the point, do you suppose that the leaders of the 1,000 year Reich would give a damn what anyone thought?. That is a pointless question because none of us would have dared to raise a voice in criticism anyway.

    Having seen what the Nazis had done across Europe, can anyone blame Bomber Harris for his tactics?
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  13. Joe Brown

    Joe Brown WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I lived in Coventry from 1960 to 1970 when I worked on the local evening newspaper. I got to know the City well and those who survived the 10-hour German blitz on the evening of the 14th November 1940.

    I lived with the scars of that horrific savagery and heard many tales of courage and bravery.

    Lest we forget, the German air raid took place during brilliant moonlight as Coventry lay bathed in bright silver light and naked to the German bombers who dropped 150,000 incendiaries, 1400 high-explosive bombs and 130 parachute mines.

    The incendiaries started at five past seven in the evening and for more than ten hours they continued to be dropped to feed the fires as they pounded the area with high-explosive bombs. Some of the fires were still smouldering a week later.

    Destroyed or damaged were over 50,000 homes, 554 killed and 865 seriously wounded with another 4000 suffering minor wounds or burns. One hundred and fifty men, women and children were buried in a mass grave.

    Remember this when you hear it suggested that we should apologise for bombing Dresden!

    As an infantryman from 1939 to 1946 who ultimately fought on German soil, I shared then Bomber Harris's view . . . and still do . . . that Nazi Germany had sowed the wind and they reaped the whirlwind that ensued.

    Joe Brown.
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  14. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    As an infantryman from 1939 to 1946 who ultimately fought on German soil, I shared then Bomber Harris's view . . . and still do . . . that Nazi Germany had sowed the wind and they reaped the whirlwind that ensued.

    Well put Joe, another who was there, we who were not have no viable comment to make.
  15. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

  16. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Diane hindsight is a wonderful thing
  17. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    afraid I don't know what you mean: whose hindsight, in relation to what?
  18. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    In reality the raid on Dresden was from the resurrected Operation Thunderclap which first saw light of day in July 1944 but was shelved.It was initially intended to be an all out attack on German morale but later was revised in a strategy to help end the war by knocking out communication centres ahead of the Russian advance.Berlin was the priority target to this end but Harris added supplementary targets of Chemitz,Leipzig and Dresden which had long been on his list.Additionally it has been claimed that the raid would demonstrate to the Russians, the immense strength of the RAF/USAAF strategic bomber force.

    At the time,the Chiefs of Staff were attending the Yalta conference.Portal was kept informed of the plan and apart from Berlin which he though should be the target of one heavy raid,Portal agreed with the plan.With the knowledge of FDR,Stalin and WSC,Portal signalled back endorsing the plan.

    As far as the RAF were concerned,the raid on Dresden was ordinary but its success was due to the raid being split into two parts with the 8th Air Force mounting a raid the following day as a third wave. .If there was a misfortune,it was the success of the raid which was followed on the night of 23 February 1945 by a similar raid on Pforzheim,20 miles south east of Karlsruhe which was equally devastated by a firestorm raid.

    Thunderclap in the end was never targeted at Berlin but Berlin was continually raided for 36 consecutive nights by the Light Night Striking Force from the night of 20 February 1945 which caused a large amount of destruction.

    Dresden had received little attention from the allied air forces so much so that much of its anti aircraft defences had been transferred to the Ruhr.Then as regards area bombing policy,once Churchill realised the devastation inflicted on German cities,he began to put distance between himself and the area bombing policy which he had so enthusiastically supported throughout the war.On 1 April,he wrote to the Chiefs of Staff asking for a review of the area bombing policy.Although not agreeing with WSC's comments,the Chiefs of Staff concurred and raised a directive on 16 April 1945 confirming that targets would be oil,communications and shipping. Discussions behind the scenes about who should sign the directive delayed the formal issue until 5 May 1945 but Portal had given Harris an advance copy and the last main force raid on a German town was to Potsdam on the night of 14 April 1945.

    The controversy over the Dresden raid,I would say arose from the David Irving 1963 publication, The Destruction of Dresden.Irving had access to East Germany and it suited Irving's political agenda to portray the allied bombing policy in poor light. He claimed that the raid victims totalled 100.000 while post GDR research puts the figure much lower at about 25000.... also attempted to prove that the deaths resulting from the raid were out of proportion to the military value of the raid.

    Irving's publication has largely been discredited since the fall of the GDR when a greater insight into the happenings of 70 years ago became possible.For the Irving publication, the foreward was provided by Robert Saunby who was Harris's deputy C in C Bomber Command and which at the time must have added some credibility to Irving's work.
    L J likes this.
  19. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    I can never understand the criticism Harris faced then and now for his bombing policy, lets face it, we were at war with Germany it was not a game, if the Germans had the bombing capability of the Allies they would have done the same thing, they did try, look at the blitz on London and the destruction of Coventry, I recall traveling through Coventry a few years after the end on the war and it was a flattened bomb site.

    If memory serves me right it was the Germans who first bombed cities, and they had plenty of practice in Spain.


    The above Quote from one of the forum links re Dresden posted by myself some time ago, I still stand by this statement....
  20. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I'm still confused about whose hindsight you meant. Looks like pushing against open doors all the way in relation to Dresden on this thread.

    Anyway, one thing I would ask researchingreg to clarify - is this meant to be about Dresden?
    Or, was Dresden used by way of intro for your question about possible reduction of crew casualty rates? In which case I'll move this thread back from Anniversaries to War in the Air)

    Seems I'm easily confused . :)

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