Review: D-Day Bombers
- Published: 30 April 2010 30 April 2010
- Last Updated: 12 July 2013 12 July 2013
RAF Bomber Command and the US Eighth Air Force Support to the Normandy Invasion 1944
The stories told by veterans from eight aircrews, five in the RAF Bomber Command and three in the USAAF Eighth Air Force, form the base of this history of the heavy bombers contribution to the allied landings in Normandy, covering the actions in the months leading up to the landings, the raids flown in support of the actual landings as well as during the rest of the fighting in Normandy.
Apart from the large amount of stories from the veterans on things such as selection, training and of course the actual missions, the book also has a solid background of material describing the strategy and tactics of the missions, the different types of missions flown at different times during the months covered and the different opinions among the commanders such as Carl “Tooey” Spaatz, Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris, Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory and James “Jimmy” Doolittle.
The book is divided into two parts, the first one covers the actions prior to D-Day and the second one D-Day and the fighting in Normandy.
The first one includes chapters on the bombings of German towns, French railroads, dropping arms for the French resistance as well as a chapter on the French civilian losses during the bombings; this interesting chapter also includes comments from people who lived through the bombings.
The second part includes apart from the actions in support of the ground troops, information on the missions against the V1 launch sites.
A few raids has been selected and are covered in detail and there are also 20 pages of photos.
The author of this book, Stephen Barlow, is the grandson of a pilot in the RAF Bomber Command and at times, that shines through in the book.
The strong points in this book are in my opinion is the amount of first hand accounts from bomber crews and also the interesting material on the discussions about how to gain the most from the use of the heavy bombers.
The weak points are the lack of first hand accounts from the German soldiers who were on the receiving end (there are a few quotes from the interrogations of a few high ranking commanders), statistics on the actual results of the bombings (in terms of human as well as material losses) this applies to both to the allies and the Germans.
It would also have been nice to see some material on the discussions on whether or not the influence on the allied aircraft on the German losses and operations in Normandy has been overrated or not.
As pointed out above, there are a few weaker aspects to this book, but for me the material on the policy discussions were interesting enough to make up for that.
(Reviewed by Marcus Wendel)