Between the end of August 1943 and the end of March 1944, RAF Bomber Command carried out a sustained offensive against Berlin, 19 major attacks being made. It was the climax of the RAF's effort to knock Germany out of the war by the strategic bombing of cities. Although much damage was caused in Berlin, the results of the bombing were not decisive. Bomber Command on the other hand, suffered a major defeat. A total of 619 aircraft and crews were lost in the raids on Berlin alone, with many other aircraft crashing on return to the UK. At the end of the battle of Berlin, Bomber Command was switched to support the invasion and the "bomber dream" - that the RAF alone could knock Germany out of the war - was over.
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No other bombing campaign in World War II against a single target was pressed so relentlessly for so long, and at such a cost, as British Bomber Command's seven-month campaign to break the German will by destroying Berlin. More than 10,000 sorties were launched, more than 30,000 tons of bombs dropped. Six hundred and seven British aircraft were lost. Balancing the cost of the campaign against advantages gained, the official Royal Air Force historian concluded early on that the Battle of Berlin "was more than a failure. It was a defeat." Middlebrook ( The First Day on the Somme ) isn't so condemning, although he judges that Luftwaffe night-fighters in combination with ground anti-aircraft defenses hurt Bomber Command more than Bomber Command harmed Berlin. His straightforward narrative covers the 19 major raids, with a detailed description of three in particular, and includes recollections by British and German airmen as well as German civilians who weathered the storm that lasted throughout the winter of 1943-44. Photos.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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