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Bomber Harris (1989)

The history of one of the key commanders of WW2, the head of RAF Bomber Command, Air Chief Marshall Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris.

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3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
...
Frederick Treves ...
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A.M. Sir Robert Saundby
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Jillie Harris
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Group Capt Davidson
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Lord Beaverbrook
Ronald Fletcher ...
BBC Newsreader
David Healy ...
Lt. Gen. Ira Eaker USAAF
...
Fred Walsh
Roger Llewellyn ...
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David Quilter ...
Principal Medical Officer
Roy Spencer ...
Magnus Spence
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Storyline

The WW2 life and history of Air Chief Marshall Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris, Commander in Chief of RAF Bomber Command. He took Bomber Command from a minor, under-manned, badly equipped, low-priority unit to one of the most potent forces of the war. This all while struggling against superiors who had different priorities and against misguided agitators who had misgivings on how the war was being conducted. Written by grantss

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1989 (UK)  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The RAF carried out the first deliberate area bombing raid on civilians during World War II, at the German city of Monchengladbach on 11 May 1940. See more »

Quotes

Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris: What *is* "Political Warfare", Harry?
Wing Commander Harry Weldon: Conservative versus Labour!
[a visiting Political Warfare Officer proposes a half-baked idea, then departs]
Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris: [bemused] Strange what *some* people think of as "war".
Wing Commander Harry Weldon: That's the danger: "Thinking"!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Ban the Sadist Videos! (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Every German city is not worth the bones of one British Grenadier"
24 January 2006 | by See all my reviews

John Thaw is excellent in this 1989 TV drama about Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris which was nominated for three BAFTA awards.

The film begins in early 1942 when Harris takes over RAF bomber command.

Convinced that the only way to win the war is by saturation bombing of German cities, this movie raises ethical issues about the tactics of bombing civilians. After the retaliatory strikes on German cities as reprisals for the Blitz by the Luftwaffe there was a directional shift from 'area bombing' as the strategic bombing of major cities was called, towards 'precision' bombing of military and strategic targets.

Harris is convinced that only by engaging major German cities will the war be ended swiftly but is hampered by insufficient aircraft poorly equipped for endurance bombing raids, the lack of coordinated efforts by American bomber command (who were focused upon strategic targets - despite their heavy losses) and moral opposition from higher authorities.

Harris wins enough approval to begin conducting 1000 bomber raids on Germany and pushes for a raid on Berlin. Area bombing remains an unpopular strategy and the successful raid on the Ruhr dams by 617 squadron begins to win opinion that favours the continuing strategy of precision bombing raids.

As the general direction of bombing raids swings towards supporting Operation Overlord and the D Day landings Harris is convinced that this will prolong the war and lead to greater loss of life on both sides of the conflict.

In particular Harris believes that D Day is unnecessary and will simply involve needless loss of life, an opinion forged by his own action in the trenches of WWI, and enlists the support from Churchill to continue with his area bombing campaign.

The bombing of Dresden produces negative publicity when dubbed 'terror bombing' by the news media and support for Harris severely wanes.

"Every German city is not worth the bones of one British Grenadier" states Harris.

Both the allies and Germany believed that air superiority and the strategic bombing of aircraft factories, crude oil manufacture, synthetic oil manufacture, rubber production, ball bearing factories and railways etc. is what significantly contributed to win the war in Europe.

The war in the far east still raged on however and only ended by the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Was Harris correct then? Is area bombing the only effective way to end armed conflict during war? 'Bomber Harris' cleverly raises these questions in this superb film. Despite their importance and contribution towards winning the war no campaign medal was ever issued for members of bomber command.

Edited with actual footage of bombing raids and music from the era adds to the nostalgic atmosphere of this film and helps preserve the era. Superb use is made throughout of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata no doubt meant to emphasis the RAF's strategy of bombing by moonlight.

A truly excellent film with superb acting from Thaw and definitely one to watch.


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