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Michael Burleigh
Monday 14th September 2009
Bomber Harris

I've been admiring a biography of Arthur Harris by Henry Probart, one of several books I realised I should have read after finishing my latest book Moral Combat.

He resembles Curtis LeMay in several respects, notably taciturnity. Both men were also highly accomplished pilots, who knew every technical detail of aircraft. I hadn't realised that Harris had been a fighter ace in WW1, shooting down five enemy planes. Flying over Passchendaele also left a deep impression on him, the carnage below influencing his resolve never to repeat it in the conflict he served in as a senior commander.

Probart also shows how despite differenes in strategy, Harris's relations with US Eighth Army Airforce were excellent. Apparently Ira Eaker lodged with Harris and his second wife Jill. I also hadn't grasped how so many men from the Dominions served in Bomber Command (43% actually) notably Canadians who had their own national group. What a debt of gratitude we owe them.

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About Michael Burleigh

Michael Burleigh is a member of the government's senior advisory group on commemorating the centennial of the First World War. His most recent book is Moral Combat (Harper Press, 2010). 

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