Osprey's Battle of Berlin: 1943-44


Richard Worrall


Osprey Publishing


$24.00 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 96 pages, Air Campaign #11
ISBN: 978-1-4728-3522-2

Throughout most of WWII, the RAF theory of bombing was not precision bombing of things like aircraft plants, or oil refineries or power generation stations, but carpet bombing German cities in hopes that having citizens killed or homeless would reduce the morale of the population and make them sue for peace.

While the theory sounds fairly reasonable (unless you are on the receiving end of the bombs), it really doesn't work. Indeed, aside from reducing the work force through death and injury, it only hardens the resolve of those left. Bomber Command has proof of that in the attitudes of the British citizenry during the Blitz of 1940. Yet, they continued in this belief. Despite the near obliteration of some German cities, the bombing campaign made little impact on German morale. Of course we can see that through hindsight, but the head of Bomber Command 'Bomber Harris', was convinced that reducing Berlin to rubble in mid/late 1943 was the way to win the war.

Thus began a concerted effort by the RAF bomber groups to do just that. Problem was, the Germans were not just going to sit back and let it be done. Also British bombing wasn't that great and the electronics of the day were not all that helpful against a huge target like Berlin. This time period was also the peak of effectiveness of Luftwaffe night fighters and each raid resulted in nearly unsustainable losses by the British bomber force. Planes were lost at a rate that couldn't be replaced. Those that were not shot down directly often crash landed back at base or their damage was such that they crashed on the way home. Even when it was obvious that the campaign wouldn't bring the desired results, Harris continued, often disobeying direct orders, until forced to stop and concentrate on targets related to Overlord.

This book looks not only at each mission and results of the campaign, but also at Harris himself. His letters and memos offer insights into his thinking and this is as fascinating as the missions themselves. It was a campaign that the British lost. The book provides the usual format of the Campaign series in that there is a look at what led up to the campaign, the abilities and plans of both the attackers and defenders, followed by the campaign itself. This is followed by an analysis of the campaign. As usual, there are period photos and some very nice art work. It makes for an excellent read and the sort of insight into a well known personality that many may not have considered before. Like all the books in this series, it is highly recommended reading.

August 2019

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