He shows that Sir Arthur Harris, head of Bomber Command, the RAF branch charged with conducting the air campaign against Germany, and the biggest proponent of area bombing
, was a complex figure who did not share the belief in the value of precision bombing that Sir Charles Portal, his superior, and the Americans did.
Hansen: "Despite the failure of area bombing
to deliver results .
The wartime erosion of social and moral restraints on the bombing of civilians was evidenced on all sides during the war; in particular, however, the area bombing
of civilians in Germany and Japan by the Allied nations during the latter part of the war wrought, "a revolution in the morality of warfare" (Schaffer, 1985: 3).
He instead turned to area bombing
because precision bombing didn't work: daytime precision bombing required good weather, clear visibility, and weak German defences.
Grayling takes a similar yet broader tack than Donald Bloxham's contribution in Firestorm by seeking to answer the question "Did the Allies commit a moral crime in their area bombing
of German and Japanese cities?
To Harris this meant continuing his area bombing
of industrial centers.
In his conclusion, Grayling asserts that he has proven that area bombing
was neither necessary nor proportionate, that it was against the general moral standards of western civilization and the specific laws of war of the time, and that Allied airmen should have refused to carry out area bombing
missions over Germany and Japan, specifically including the overall RAF campaign directed by Air Marshal Arthur Harris and the USAAF B-29 missions, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
If highly concentrated area bombing
achieved a crescendo of mass slaughter and degradation over Germany in 1944, in 1945 the world leapt into another zone.
simply seemed too risky: it might waste scarce resources, strengthen the resolve of the German people, provide ammunition for Nazi propagandists, and alienate the American public.
Harris then made the outrageous assertion that his Bomber Command aircrews, specialized as they were in nighttime area bombing
, could not bomb accurately by daylight.
Hastings not only chronicles the efforts of Bomber Command throughout World War II but also delves into the ongoing debate about the usefulness and morality of area bombing
The sage decision by Churchill to take Gibson to America also highlighted that Bomber Command was capable of precision attacks as opposed to just the bludgeoning at area bombing