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Arthur "Bomber" Harris

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Category: Military
Reference No: 9282
Status: Available
Price: £50.00

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Marshal of the Royal Air Force.

Harris joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1915, qualifying the following year as a fighter pilot and joining the 44 Squadron in France. He also helped organize the defence against the Zeppelin Air Raids in 1916 before taking command of the 44 Squadron and training it for night fighting.

By the outbreak of the Second World War Harris had reached the rank of air vice marshal and spent the early months of the war in the United States purchasing aircraft for the war effort.

In February, 1942, Harris replaced J. E. Baldwin as head of RAF Bomber Command. Under his leadership the policy of area bombing, first advocated by Charles Portal,  Chief of the Air Staff, was developed.

Harris famously said, on taking over Bomber Command:

β€œThe Nazis entered this war under the rather childish delusion that they were going to bomb everybody else, and nobody was going to bomb them. At Rotterdam, London, Warsaw, and half a hundred other places, they put that rather naive theory into operation. They sowed the wind, and now, they are going to reap the whirlwind.”

He pursued this policy with relentless energy, with night-time carpet bombing of  Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Dresden and many other German cities

The air campaign, conducted alongside the US Army Air Force from 1943, killed an estimated 600,000 civilians and destroyed or seriously damaged some six million homes.

In March, 1945, Winston Churchill gave instructions to Harris to bring an end to area bombing. As he explained: "It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall come into control of an utterly ruined land."

Harris became a marshal of the Royal Air Force in 1946 and soon afterwards retired from active duty.

This is a very fine signature in blue ink on a 3" x 2.75" display piece featuring the Vickers Virginia bomber. (Arthur Harris in the 1920s was Commander of No.58 Squadron, equipped with this aircraft, at RAF Worthy Down in Hampshire), Condition is excellent (shown loosely mounted with photo corners on a 6" x 4" white card).