The Bomber war – Documentary and book

By | 25/01/2020

When I was in Spain I started to read “The Bomber War” because it’s a topic I do not know much about the topic. It’s interesting to read about the technology that they used for guidance, for detection and for the bombing. It’s also to read about how one thousand bomber sorties were sometimes orchestrated. I’m only 40 per cent of the way through the book at the time of writing.

While reading the Bomber War I also watched a French documentary available on curioisitystream called Bombing War: From Guernica to Hiroshima“. It is a two-part documentary looking at bombing, from the experimental bombing of Guernica and the request for bombing not to target civilians to the bombing of London, Berlin and many cities in between. It takes a look at what motivated the change in bombing tactic.

By the end of the documentary, I thought that they should have addressed the cultural cost of bombing Europe. Plenty of beautiful old cities were destroyed in such a manner that we now travel to specific towns to see what Europe looked like before the Second World War and its bombing campaigns.

One sentence from the second documentary that may stick with you is that it was more dangerous to be in the bombers on their sorties than in the cities that were being bombed. This is due to the air defences, whether Flak, enemy fighters or mid-air collisions.

In the book, we read about the challenges of finding the way to the correct bombing site. They needed to navigate by the stars but also using dead reckoning. Eventually, both sides used beams to guide bombers to and from targets. If you’re interested in technology then the book is worth reading.

Although slightly off-topic the documentaries have some nice images from the war to give you a glimpse of how things looked at the time. It appears that some of the footage was colourised which is both a shame because it becomes a creative representation rather than accurate, and great because it brings certain images to life, making footage easier to interpret.

A topic that I had not come across until watching the second documentary is the dropping of Napalm on Japenese cities with more than 300,000 people, and then on cities of more than 100,000 people. You have images with a percentage of the cities that were destroyed by bombing.

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