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The Guns of August
Barbara W. Tuchman, Robert K. Massie
Bomber Command - Max Hastings Let’s acknowledge the truth, the Royal Air Force was unfairly scorned at the end of WWII for their efforts. In fact, you could say they were ROYALLY FUCKED! Poorly served by their leaders, the RAF was never appropriately recognized for their lonely, bloody night fight against the Third Reich, for years the only way the western allies could take the war to Germany. Bomber Command gets 5 explosive-filled “Tall Boy”Stars for this clear-eyed accounting of the RAF over Europe in WWII. A complete understanding of the air war in the ETO has to start here.

In reality, the RAF was the victim of the politicians’ refrain: “I was for it before I was against it.” Everybody, from Churchill on down to the man in the street was in favor of the bombing campaign. And “Bomber” Harris, the head of Bomber Command was the perfect choice, single-mindedly committed to the destruction of German cities, regardless of any other target desired by the allied commanders.

In the beginning, the Brits would take bombs home rather than have a potential miss and hit a civilian. They tried precision bombing during the day. Losses were tremendous and there was no way to continue. So they were confined to night and stayed there until almost the end of the war. Hastings jumps between telling the bomber crew stories by following various squadrons through their missions and then jumping to the command level to see why the airwar was fought as it was. The losses, even at night, are staggering and you get a look at the German defensive side as well. Hastings tells the story of Darmstadt, one German town that suffers a strike late in the war, when the allies had a sledgehammer in the USAAF and RAF air forces, smashing cities with incredible force.

In the end, the RAF does not get a campaign medal for their sacrifice and get blamed for carrying out their orders. A excellent history and highly recommended.