Wing Commander James
asks, Saturday, June 16, 2007, whether a harshly
worded memorial plaque in the Canadian War Museum
Photo: Bomber Harris, Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris, inspects the men of Bomber Command: a rare squadron level visit. All illustrations are from David Irving: "Apocalypse 1945: the Destruction of Dresden" [buy the book | free download | photo gallery]
Were WW2 bomber aircrew heroes or not?
Bomber Command Plaque in the War Museum, Ottawa:
"Mass bomber raids against Germany resulted in vast destruction and heavy loss of life. The value and morality of the strategic bomber offensive against Germany remains bitterly contested. Bomber Command's aim was to crush civilian morale and force Germany to surrender by destroying its cities and industrial installations. Although Bomber Command and American attacks left 600,000 Germans dead and more than five million homeless, the raids resulted in only small reductions in German war production until late in the war."
I AM the sole surviving member of a WW2 RAF Lancaster bomber crew. I am puzzled by the recently reported refusal on 13th June 07 of the Ottawa War Museum to alter the wording on that panel as recommended by the Canadian Senate.
My difficulty is that whilst I cannot argue about the accuracy of the first three sentences I would personally wish to see the last one altered to somehow reflect the fact that 10,643 Canadian aircrew died voluntarily, out of the 55,500 plus volunters in RAF Bomber Command who were Killed in Action (KIA) and that they died doing their duty as demanded by their respective legally appointed Commanders in the belief that the bombing was essential in order to hasten the end of the war and to gain victory.. If they had refused to carry out those duties they would have been court-martialled for so doing.
I have only been made aware of the existence of this War Museum and the controversial wording on that panel since May 29, 2007, so I know nothing of the reports about the controversy or even what recommendations were included in the Senate Report. I have not seen the panel or the Museum. But I did part of my wartime training in 1942 in Ontario at 31 Air Navigation School in Port Albert, Goderich and I belong to several associations associated with WW2.
I am disappointed at the outcome because there is a genuine feeling among surviving WW2 bomber crew members here in UK and in Canada, Australia and New Zealand that, as the wording on that panel stands, they may be regarded as war criminals and that their comrades who died may be regarded as having done so for no good reason. And this seems to add insult to injury for them since they were not awarded a WW2 campaign medal as other members of our armed forces were. Moreover the Next of Kin (NOK) of those who sacrificed their lives for the sake of freedom must also share those feelings.
You have studied many aspects of the conduct of WW2 by all sides and therefore I seek your opinion about the wording on that panel. Does it correctly reflect the concerns of the Canadian and other surviving members of bomber crews, their KIA colleagues and their NOK involved as well as the views of modern historians?
With sincere best wishes,
David Irving comments:
I feel that the heroism of the Bomber Command aircrews is undeniable, but they were cynically misused.