The Strategic Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945

By Alan J. Levine | Go to book overview

10
Decisive Offensives II: Transportation,
September 1944-V-E Day

The Allied attacks on German oil production were depriving the German forces of more than fuel. The attacks were also crippling production of explosives, rubber, and artificial fertilizer, arguably spelling slow death for the whole German war effort. An attack on the German transportation system, begun gradually in the summer and fall, precipitated a quick collapse.


COMMAND ARRANGEMENTS, PRIORITIES, AND STRATEGY

Since April 1944 General Eisenhower had controlled the strategic bombers. The results could hardly have given even the most extreme air power advocate cause for complaint. Under Eisenhower's command, strategic bombing had finally achieved decisive results. But Portal disliked the arrangement.

Early in September, as the British delegation was en route to a conference between Roosevelt and Churchill at Quebec, Portal urged the other British chiefs of staff to seek a partial reversion to the earlier command arrangements. He and General Arnold should handle the air offensive for the Combined Chiefs of Staff. Portal argued that with the Allies firmly ashore, the situation had changed; there was now less need to use the bombers in direct support of the armies. He claimed that Eisenhower was not really concerned with the main aims of the strategic air offensive, and that the movement of Eisenhower's headquarters from England to France would impede coordination of the offensive. Keeping the bombers under Eisenhower might interfere with plans to use the strategic air forces to attack German morale directly. Portal, perhaps prudently, did not try to cite any instance where Eisenhower's control had actually been harmful.

The real flaw in the Allied command was not Eisenhower's control, but Portal's failure to control Sir Arthur Harris. This was already being shown by Harris's

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