Why Was the RAF So Committed to the "Area Bombing" of Germany in the Second World War?

Fletcher, Howard (2006) Why Was the RAF So Committed to the "Area Bombing" of Germany in the Second World War? Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

[thumbnail of Thesis document]
PDF (Thesis document) - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike.



'To a handful of individuals invested with the disproportionate powers conferred by totalitarian war, millions of Germans, Italians and French owe the devastation of beautiful historic towns, and thousands of families in enemy occupied countries the death, injury, or mental derangement of young, helpless, and cherished members. These memories alone of grief and unspeakable horror, are likely to prove an implacable obstacle to the building of a better world.' Vera Brittain, Seed of Chaos.

This study will seek to explain why the British Royal Air Force embarked on a policy of systematic destruction of German cities during the Second World War. The first chapters will focus on the origins of the policy of 'area' bombing, showing how the idea became popular after the German raids against British cities during the First World War, and the widespread feeling in the years thereafter that a more 'humane' form of warfare must replace the stalemate of the trenches. The second half of this study incorporates case studies to support an investigation of the various merits and failings of the tactic in operation. Hamburg, Nuremberg, D-Day and Dresden are considered in an attempt to address the second part of the question - why was the area bombing campaign continued until the end of the war? The later chapters will show how area bombing tactics evolved to remain effective and explore some less straightforward reasons for continuing the offensive including economics and civilian apathy. This topic has recently become very popular among historians and what follows is a brief review of the existing literature which was consulted during the preparation of this study.

Repository Staff Only: item control page