1. Education

April 13, 1892 - Marshal of the Royal Air Force Arthur "Bomber" Harris (right) is born at Cheltenham, England. After receiving his education at Allhallows School, Harris traveled to Rhodesia where he worked in farming and mining. With the outbreak of World War I, he joined the 1st Rhodesian Regiment before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps in 1915. Rising quickly, he proved an able pilot downing five enemy aircraft and commanding two squadrons by war's end. Staying in the new Royal Air Force after the war, Harris served in a variety of colonial postings and became an expert on bombing and night flying. The commander of No. 5 Group at the start of World War II, Harris was named the commander-in-chief of Bomber Command in February 1942. In this role, he executed Prime Minister Winston Churchill's directives to area bomb German cities. Developing new tactics, Harris' Bomber Command launched massive raids which destroyed large portions of German urban areas and killed and displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians as well as damaged the Nazi war machine. A controversial figure after the war due to the severity of Bomber Command's final raids, Harris was beloved by his men and refused a peerage after the war when the RAF denied his crews a separate campaign medal for their service. Promoted to Marshal of the Royal Air Force in 1946, he retired that September to write his memoirs. For the remainder of his life he defended Bomber Command's actions during the war stating that they were in line with the "total war" initiated by the Germans.

Photograph Source: Public Domain


April 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm
(1) William Barr says:

Churchill was right in being dismayed about the terrible WW II bombing of German cities, especially Dresden. Harris was unremorseful regarding these unjustified bombings.

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Military History

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.