Hilary St. George Saunders


Marshal of the Royal Air Force the Lord Portal of Hungerford
Marshal of the Royal Air Force the Lord Portal of Hungerford, G.C.B., D.S.O., M.C.
Chief of the Air Staff, 1940-1945

First published 1954


Crown Copyright Reserved


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The final chapter of this volume was written jointly by Hilary St. George Saunders and Denis Richards
Chapter I. POINTBLANK and Area Attacks 1
II. The U-boat in the Atlantic and the Bay 34
III. Stratagems and Spoils 68
IV. Before the Curtain Rose 79
V. 'D Day' 103
VI. The Battle for France 115
VII. Flying Bombs and Rockets 142
VIII. Bag and Baggage 177
IX. From Brussels to the Rhine 190
X. The End in Italy 211
XI. The Balkans and the Middle East 234
XII. Oil and the Climax 258
XIII. Over the Rhine to the Elbe 279
XIV. The Long Road Back to Burma 295
XV. Arakan, Kohima, and Imphal 311
XVI. The Rising Sun Sets 341
XVII. The Balance Sheet 369
I. Members of the Air Council, 1944-1945 395
II. Principal Air Commanders, 1944-1945 396
III. Royal Air Force Command Organization, June 1944 398
IV. Royal Air Force Command Organization, January 1945 400
V. First-Line Aircraft of the British and German Air Forces, June 1944 and January 1945 402
VI. German and Italian Submarines Destroyed by Allied Shore-Based Aircraft 403
VII. Enemy Surface Vessels Destroyed in the Atlantic and North-West European Waters by Aircraft under Royal Air Force Control, 1939-1945 405
VIII. Principal Operational Aircraft of the Royal Air Force, 1944-1945 406
IX. Principal Operational Aircraft of the German Air Force, 1944-1945 409
X. Principal Operational Aircraft of the Japanese Air Force, 1944-1945 411
XI. Order of Battle, Allied Expeditionary Air Force, 'D Day', 6th June 1944 412
XII. Order of Battle, Air Command, South-East Asia, 1st July 1944 418
XIII. Glossary of Code Names and Abbreviations 423
  facing page
The Battle of the Atlantic (VI), June-August 1943 50
The Battle of the Atlantic (VII), September 1943-April 1944 62
The Air Plan for the Landings in Normandy, 6 June 1944 114
The Battle for France, July-September 1944 135
Deployment of Defences against the Flying Bomb, 13 June and 20 July 1944 158
Air Operations against Walcheren, 3 October-8 November 1944 196
Air Operations up to the German Frontier, September-December 1944 206
The Campaign in Italy, 8 June 1944-2 May 1945, and the Liberation of the South of France, 15 August-12 September 1944 222
The Balkans 236
The Indian Ocean 254
Principal Targets Attacked by Bomber Command, 1 January 1944-5 May 1945 262
The Battle of the Atlantic (VIII), May 1944-May 1945 276
The Advance into Germany, January-May 1945 288
The First Arakan Campaign, December 1942-May 1943 300
The First Chindit Expedition, February-June 1943 305
Air Supply Operations in the Second Arakan Campaign, February 1944 318
Japanese Attacks on Imphal and Kohima, March-April 1944 324
The Second Chindit Expedition and the Northern Front in Burma, December 1943-August 1944 334
The Reconquest of Burma, November 1944-May 1945 354
R.A.F. Bomber Command. Distribution of Effort Between Principal Target Systems, 1940-1945 384
Annual Tonnages of Bombs Dropped by the R.A.F. Bomber Command and the U.S. Eighth Air Force 1939-1945 389
Marshal of the Royal Air Force The Lord Portal of Hungerford frontispiece
Wing Commander G.L. Cheshire facing page 30
A 'Kill' in the Bay between pages 54-55
Flying Officer L.A. Trigg between pages 54-55
The Railway Yards at Aulnoye before and after an attack by Bomber Command between pages 86-87
Amiens Prison after the Mosquitos had struck between pages 86-87
Pre 'D-Day' Bombing. Tours Airfield between pages 102-103
Horsa Gliders in Normandy after the Airborne Landings between pages 102-103
Wreckage of German Transport near Chambois between pages 126-127
A.E.A.F. Daily Conference, August 1944 between pages 126-127
The Flying Bomb (V.1) between pages 168-169
A V.2 being prepared for Launching between pages 168-169
Arnhem between pages 198-199
The Gestapo Headquarters at Aarhus after No. 2 Group's Attack between pages 198-199
A Synthetic Oil Plant at Bohlen after Bomber Command's Attack between pages 270-271
Oil Refinery at Bremen under attack by Lancasters between pages 270-271
The Last of the Tirpitz between pages 270-271
Beaufighters Attacking a Minesweeper off Borkum between pages 270-271
The Railway Viaduct at Bielefeld after Bomber Command's Attack between pages 286-287
A Battered Target in the Patch of the Allied Advance--Bocholt between pages 286-287
A Beaufighter attack on a Japanese Storage Dump between pages 342-343
Bombing of Japanese Dock Installations at Surasdilani between pages 342-343
A Japanese Tanker Hit by R.A.F. Liberators between pages 350-351
Heavy Bombers Attacking Japanese Positions on Ramree Island between pages 350-351
A Bridge over the Myitnge River after Attack by R.A.F. Thunderbolts between pages 358-359
The Docks at Rangoon, shattered by Allied Bombing between pages 358-359



I SHOULD like to recall here what has been said much more fully in the general preface in the first volume, namely, that this is primarily a history of Royal Air Force operations and the policy governing them. While not part of the full-length official Military History of the War, it was nevertheless officially commissioned, and is based throughout on official documents, to which full access was given by the Air Ministry.

The text of this volume, like that of the others, was substantially completed in 1950. It is entirely the work of Hilary Saunders, except that the last chapter, an attempted assessment of the whole wartime effort of the Royal Air Force, was planned and written jointly with myself. Hilary Saunders did not live to read the proofs of this or either of the other two volumes. He would certainly have wished, in this last foreword, to repeat our thanks to those we mentioned in the general preface: to emphasize our great and continued indebtedness to the Air Ministry Historical Branch under Mr. J.C. Nerney, I.S.O.; and to join with me in a warm expression of gratitude to three senior officers who read the text of all three volumes and helped us very greatly by their comments and criticisms--Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir John Slessor, G.C.B., D.S.O., M.C., Air Chief Marshall Sir Guy Garrod, G.B.E., K.C.B., M.C., D.F.C., and the late Mr. C.G. Caines, C.B., O.B.E.


November, 1953.


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