Winston Churchill and the bombing of German cities, 1940‒1945

Peter Lee, Colin McHattie

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This article explores the ways in which Winston Churchill shaped the historiography of the strategic air offensive against Germany. Beginning with Churchill’s view of history and the writing of his place in it, the paper examines his willingness to secure that place through revisionism and obscurantism, where the bomber offensive is concerned, in his magnum opus, The Second World War. This approach is reinforced by his obstruction of the post-war British bombing survey and his interference in the writing of the official history of the bomber offensive which was published in 1961. This study highlights a consistent pattern of behaviour in the way Churchill sought to shape the history of the bomber offensive to ensure as far as possible that this controversial aspect of the war would not detract from his personal standing. The analysis of Churchill’s attempts to write history in his own image – or at least to his own advantage – concludes with an assessment of the extent to which he was motivated primarily by moral concern for the consequences of area bombing or by self-interested unease over future political and reputational implications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-69
Number of pages23
JournalGlobal War Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • air power
  • Bomber Command
  • bomber offensive
  • British bombing survey
  • Winston Churchill
  • Dresden
  • Second World War


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