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‘Strategic bombing was crucial to the Allied victory. . . It was not elegant, it was not humane, but it was effective.’ Do you agree or disagree with this assessment? Provide an evidence-based argument in support of your position. Essay Example

  • Category:
    History
  • Document type:
    Essay
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    Undergraduate
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Strategic Bombing was Crucial to the Allied Victory

Introduction

Strategic bombing has always stirred up a powerful emotional response and has always been a highly debated topic. Strategic bombing was regarded as revolutionary because it added a new aspect to war and also reversed the conventional principles of war. The morality and efficacy of carrying out strategic bombing campaigns has been questioned while some arguments support strategic bombing because of its efficiency and the decreased manpower costs, casualties as well as money1. The Second World War entirely applied strategic airpower. Allied air forces dropped almost 2.7 million tonnes of bombs. About 265 Americans and 79,281 British men got lost within air action while more than 18,000 American and 22,000 British planes disappeared or were severely damaged2. Specifically, bombing raids on Germany led to destruction of more than 3, 600,000; which was about 20% of all the buildings within the country. Studies indicated that about 300,000 Germans died while 780,000 were injured3. Additionally, many people were also rendered homeless. This therefore brings the question of the overall impact the strategic bombing had and whether the gains were worth when compared to losses that Allies and innocent civilians suffered4. This essay supports the statement that strategic bombing was crucial to the Allied victory…It was not elegant, it was not humane, but it was effective.

The strategic bombing led to the loss of lives for many civilians and also loss of substantial property5. The League of Nations under international law outlawed the deliberate bombing of civilian populations, and emphasised against military bombings from the air as witnessed in strategic bombing6. According to the League of Nations, any attack on legitimate military aims should be performed in a manner that civilian populations within the environs are not bombed due to negligence7. In addition, the international law outlawed utilisation of chemicals on conducting war and chemical and bacterial methods in war were classified as Weapons of Mass Destruction8. This therefore outlaws the strategic bombings that occurred. In addition, even though British people had previously been attacked by German, historiography indicates that indicates that populations of the bombed cities in British did not support retaliation attacks. This indicates that even those who went though the dreadfulness of aerial bombings were aware of its illegitimacy and dissipation and did not wish to see the German civilians undergoing through similar horrifying bombings9.

However, strategic bombing has been perceived as being effective in ensuring the survival of the western democracies because it led to the defeat of the Axis powers. As a result, this is acknowledged prima facie the ethical connotations of strategic bombing10. The atrocious killings and other atrocities committed by Nazi regime far justified the actions of Allied forces because potential transgressions of strategic bombings can be perceived as “necessary evil”11. In addition, the Nazi regime started the war and hence this makes the concept of guilt and responsibilities of the horrendous consequences of strategic bombings bearable12. As a result, strategic bombing can be seen as proper way that averted destructive Nazi raids. The bombing of the German cities by Allied forces is probably the most morally and strategically challenging incidents of the war13. This is because the actions of German that included the actions Nazis and Adolf Hitler were very evil. Therefore, the actions of Allies were good and thus they can be justified morally.

In addition, it is argued that strategic bombings led to the killing of civilians making the bombings inhuman and cruel. However, the killing of civilians was unintended side effects of the war and hence collateral damage14. As a result, the harm that occurred on civilians and also the allied during the attacks on German forces and facilities was therefore collateral damage. In this regard, collateral damage during the strategic bombings led to death of civilians, destruction of health facilities, educational institutions and also countless damage of other civilian properties. The collateral damage in this case might have been massive but the Allied forces legitimately targeted some areas in German and hence the unintended damage that resulted from the bombings was collateral damage15.

. 20. As a result, strategic bombing of the industry of Germany was not successful and as a result BBC were only utilised in supporting other operations. Nonetheless, there was a threat of German retribution using bombing raids as well and using chemicals and biological weapons19. In addition, there were fewer airfields with runaways that could adequately accommodate the bombers and also there was lack of navigation aids, bombsights and profound bombs and this further aggravated the issue further18. However, in spite of all these efforts, much did not happen because war started in September 1939. The BBC had approximately 488 light bombers, and this did not fulfil the requirements. Because of the lack of diverse as well as carrying ability of bombs, the demands of a practical annihilation of Germany were not realistic17. Additionally, strategic bombing also targeted the infrastructure and the moral of the German population. Strategic bombing war started way back after the First World War but this became really serious in late 1937. This is the time the British Bomber Command (BBC) was advised to plan for the complete destruction of the economy of one of its worst enemy, Germany16 The strategic bombing refers to the strategic planning and activities of the Bomber Command of the Royal Air Force against the Germany between 1939 and 1945. The objective of strategic bombing was to destroy an enemy’s war ability though destruction of war production

. 21 However, the situation was different when Germany invaded Norway and PM Chamberlain withdrew in 1940. Winston Churchill formed the new government after resignation of Chamberlain and he did not pay much attention to the potential consequences of the strategic bombing. Churchill Winston was in full support of use of heavy bombs on the Nazi homeland and he also annulled limitations on the use of bombs after assuming the office

Following the colossal bombing of Rotterdam in 15th May 1940 and the defeat of Anglo-French troops within the north of France by Germany, Winston Churchill made a decision to send the BBC against industrial and military targets within the Ruhr, Germany. During this strategic bombing attack on Germany, 96 light bombers were sent for destruction of power stations and refineries in Germany. This attack indicates the strategic as well as technical challenges that strategic bombing encountered22. This is because from the 96 planes, 6 of them disappeared and only 24 aircrews were able to attack the target region within Germany. Due to the high rate of losses, the BBC was forced to abandon day attacks and concentrated on night attacks because this was perceived as safer for the aircrew. However, the attacks decreased because problems with visibility at night. In spite of the technical challenges on night attacks, the strategy of strategic bombing was the only war strategy left to us following the Anglo-French army in June 194023. In addition, strategic bombing was the only way to actively oppose Hitler-Germany. In 1942, there were improvements on both technical and strategic aspects where for instance power was concentrated through bombing attacks with 1000 bombers and special training of the crew24. British bombers suffered massive losses during day operations and they resulted to the comparatively safety as well as inaccurate night operations. It is during this time when a bombing campaign was initiated against key cities in Germany in order to destroy their morale by targeting residential areas in German. Strategic bombing was also used as a retaliatory measure as a response to German terror bombings of major cities in Britain. There is also evidence that ironically shows the night exactitude attacks were successful and knocked out four of Germany’s major synthetic oil plants during that period of war25.

. This resulted to not only the destruction of the German Air Force, but also to the obliteration of the transportation system in Germany. 27. In addition, not only did the Germany Air Force lose fighters and pilots, the production figures of planes significantly dropped and also fuel production dropped by about 10%. This success was as a result of technical and tactical development and long-range fighters played a significant role. This is because long-range fighters had the responsibility of escorting bombers the whole way to Germany and fighting directly against the German fighter force26 On the other hand, from the last months of 1943, strategic bombing started becoming successful. The attacks were focused against the German Air Force as well as the aviation industry. This is because the aviation industry encountered massive losses and the German air force suffered major production losses

. 29. Eventually, there was complete destruction of the German industry and infrastructure and also several major cities such as Berlin were extensively destroyed28 After the destruction of the German Air Force, the entire destruction power of bombers hit Hitler-Germany. Additionally, there were also Kammhuber Line with 50000 anti-aircraft-guns throughout Germany and some German fighter force remainder; they fighting against a better Allied force. As a result, a massive bombing tonnage was dropped over Germany during the final year of the war

. 30 However, in order to have a complete understanding of the above discussed bombing attacking, comparison of the suffering the Allies underwent in the hand of the Luftwaffe is important. Most of the bombs that bombed German cities were from American aircrafts. Nevertheless, even though Americans had not suffered any aerial attacks from German, British people has suffered major attacks from German. For example it is logical that the Blitz’ of 1940 to 1941 attacks were still fresh in the minds of British people during strategic bombing. Therefore, the strategic bombings by the British commanders can be justified by the idea of retaliation by British commanders

Furthermore, strategic bombing was an air combat that reduced American casualties. Roosevelt guided American military in developing an air force that was better that that Germany and Japanese31. Roosevelt commanded strategic bombing using long range attack on the economic and military centers of the enemy nation. Britain was also using similar strategy. As a result, in January 1943 the two Allies (Britain and America) made a decision to join effects and combined their big bomber forces in attacking Germany economy and military hubs32.

Conclusion

Strategic bombing was hard to effectively implement and as the essay indicates it was met with various failures and mistakes. In addition, strategic bombing led to loss of innumerable lives of civilians and also destruction of properties and wasted resources. However, strategic bombing eventually led to the victory of Allied forces against German and their supporters. This is because Anglo-American strategic bombings of Germany formed among the key strategic episodes of the Second World War. Allied military strategy to use strategic bombing is what played a vital role in ensuring the defeat of Axis powers. The success was achieved when there was complete destruction of German forces, industry and infrastructure as well as destruction of major cities in German. In conclusion, strategic bombing via air power established a short path to victory.

Reference List

, 22 (2008): 469-492.French HistoryDodd, LA & Knapp, A, How many Frenchmen did you kill? British bombing policy towards France (1940-1945),

, 30 (1995): 1-8. The Journal of Contemporary HistoryGeyer Michael, “The Place of the Second World War in the German Memory and History,

(London: Knopf, 1993). Overview of the Campaign, in: Royal Air Force Historical Society, Reaping the Whirlwind. A Symposium on the Strategic Bomber Offensive 1939-1945Frankland N,

New York: New Press, 2009.(
,61134 and 254, edited by Toshiyuki Tanaka and Marilyn Blatt Young, 99Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-Century History. In Were the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Justified?Hasegawa Tsuyoshi,

Hopkins Patrick, The Historiography of the Allied Bombing Campaign of Germany, Electronic Theses and Dissertations,(2008)

Jacobs WA, Strategic Bombing and the National Strategy, 1941 – 1943, Military Affairs, 3, (1986): 50-62.

Keegan, John, The View from Kitty Hawk, Military History Quarterly, 3 (1998): 6-13.

Kenneth Werrell, The Strategic Bombing of Germany in World War II: Costs and Accomplishments, Journal of American History, 3 (1986): 702-710.

Kitchen, M. The traditions of German Strategic Thought, The International History Review, 2 (1979): 163-190

Mark Selden, A Forgotten Holocaust: US Bombing Strategy, the Destruction of Japanese Cities & the American Way of War from World War II to Iraq, The Asia-Pacific Journal, 5 (2007):1-12.

Mann, Edward, Colonel, USAF, Retired, Lieutenant Colonel Gary Endersby, USAF, Retired, and Tom Searle. Dominant Effects: Effects-Based and Joint Operations, Aerospace Power Journal, 3 (2001): 92-100.

(1995)Why the Allies Won, Overy, R., The Air War 1939-1945, 1980.; Overy, R., An Assessment, in: Royal Air Force Historical Society, Reaping the Whirlwind. A Symposium on the Strategic Bomber OffensiveOvery, R.,

(London, 1993).The Strategic Air Offensive against Germany 1939-1945, 1961; Frankland, N., Overview of the Campaign, in: Royal Air Force Historical Society, Reaping the Whirlwind. A Symposium on the Strategic Bomber Offensive 1939-1945Webster,C./Frankland, N.,

Hopkins Patrick, The Historiography of the Allied Bombing Campaign of Germany, Electronic Theses and Dissertations,(2008)

2 Hopkins Patrick, The Historiography of the Allied Bombing Campaign of Germany, Electronic Theses and Dissertations,(2008)

, 22 (2008): 469-492.French History Dodd, LA & Knapp, A, How many Frenchmen did you kill? British bombing policy towards France (1940-1945), 3

New York: New Press, 2009.(
,61134 and 254, edited by Toshiyuki Tanaka and Marilyn Blatt Young, 99Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-Century History. In Were the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Justified?Hasegawa Tsuyoshi,
4

New York: New Press, 2009.(
,61134 and 254, edited by Toshiyuki Tanaka and Marilyn Blatt Young, 99Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-Century History. In Were the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Justified?Hasegawa Tsuyoshi,
5

6 Mann, Edward, Colonel, USAF, Retired, Lieutenant Colonel Gary Endersby, USAF, Retired, and Tom Searle. ìDominant Effects: Effects-Based and Joint Operations, Aerospace Power Journal, 3 (2001): 92-100.

7 Jacobs WA, Strategic Bombing and the National Strategy, 1941 – 1943, Military Affairs, 3, (1986): 50-62.

8 Keegan, John, The View from Kitty Hawk, Military History Quarterly, 3 (1998): 6-13.

9 Kitchen, M. The traditions of German Strategic Thought, The International History Review, 2 (1979): 163-190

10 Mann, Edward, Colonel, USAF, Retired, Lieutenant Colonel Gary Endersby, USAF, Retired, And Tom Searle. Dominant Effects: Effects-Based and Joint Operations, Aerospace Power Journal, 3 (2001): 92-100.

11 Kitchen, M. The traditions of German Strategic Thought, The International History Review, 2 (1979): 163-190

12 Mann, Edward, Colonel, USAF, Retired, Lieutenant Colonel Gary Endersby, USAF, Retired, And Tom Searle. Dominant Effects: Effects-Based and Joint Operations, Aerospace Power Journal, 3 (2001): 92-100.

13 Jacobs WA, Strategic Bombing and the National Strategy, 1941 – 1943, Military Affairs, 3, (1986): 50-62.

New York: New Press, 2009.(
,61134 and 254, edited by Toshiyuki Tanaka and Marilyn Blatt Young, 99Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-Century History. In Were the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Justified?Hasegawa Tsuyoshi,
14

(London, 1993)The Strategic Air Offensive against Germany 1939-1945, 1961; Frankland, N., Overview of the Campaign, in: Royal Air Force Historical Society, Reaping the Whirlwind. A Symposium on the Strategic Bomber Offensive 1939-1945 Webster,C./Frankland, N., 15

(London, 1993)The Strategic Air Offensive against Germany 1939-1945, 1961; Frankland, N., Overview of the Campaign, in: Royal Air Force Historical Society, Reaping the Whirlwind. A Symposium on the Strategic Bomber Offensive 1939-1945 Webster,C./Frankland, N., 16

17
Mark Selden, A Forgotten Holocaust: US Bombing Strategy, the Destruction of Japanese Cities & the American Way of War from World War II to Iraq, The Asia-Pacific Journal, 5 (2007):1-12.

(1995)Why the Allies Won, Overy, R., The Air War 1939-1945, 1980.; Overy, R., An Assessment, in: Royal Air Force Historical Society, Reaping the Whirlwind. A Symposium on the Strategic Bomber Offensive Overy, R., 18

(London, 1993)The Strategic Air Offensive against Germany 1939-1945, 1961; Frankland, N., Overview of the Campaign, in: Royal Air Force Historical Society, Reaping the Whirlwind. A Symposium on the Strategic Bomber Offensive 1939-1945 Webster,C./Frankland, N., 19

20 Kitchen, M. The traditions of German Strategic Thought, The International History Review, 2 (1979): 163-190

21 Kenneth Werrell, The Strategic Bombing of Germany in World War II: Costs and Accomplishments, Journal of American History, 3 (1986): 702-710.

(1995)Why the Allies Won, Overy, R., The Air War 1939-1945, 1980.; Overy, R., An Assessment, in: Royal Air Force Historical Society, Reaping the Whirlwind. A Symposium on the Strategic Bomber Offensive Overy, R., 22

23 Kitchen, M. The traditions of German Strategic Thought, The International History Review, 2 (1979): 163-190

24 Kitchen, M. The traditions of German Strategic Thought, The International History Review, 2 (1979): 163-190

25 Kitchen, M. The traditions of German Strategic Thought, The International History Review, 2 (1979): 163-190

(1995)Why the Allies Won, Overy, R., The Air War 1939-1945, 1980.; Overy, R., An Assessment, in: Royal Air Force Historical Society, Reaping the Whirlwind. A Symposium on the Strategic Bomber Offensive Overy, R., 26

(1995)Why the Allies Won, Overy, R., The Air War 1939-1945, 1980.; Overy, R., An Assessment, in: Royal Air Force Historical Society, Reaping the Whirlwind. A Symposium on the Strategic Bomber Offensive Overy, R., 27

New York: New Press, 2009.(
,61134 and 254, edited by Toshiyuki Tanaka and Marilyn Blatt Young, 99Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-Century History. In Were the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Justified?Hasegawa Tsuyoshi,
28

29 Keegan, John, The View from Kitty Hawk, Military History Quarterly, 3 (1998): 6-13.

30 Kenneth Werrell, The Strategic Bombing of Germany in World War II: Costs and Accomplishments, Journal of American History, 3 (1986): 702-710.

31 Geyer Michael, “The Place of the Second World War in the German Memory and History, The Journal of Contemporary History, 30 (1995): 1-

32 Jacobs WA, Strategic Bombing and the National Strategy, 1941 – 1943, Military Affairs, 3, (1986): 50-62.