The London Gazette, December 31st 1946 - Supplement

90 SUPPLEMENT t o the LONDON GAZETTE, 2 JANUARY, 1947524. Signals security is also all-important. It is of little use having scramblers or other de­vices unless they work efficiently over consider­able distances. 525. The value of scientific research into current operations may also be mentioned here since quite apart from its application today- to-day technical problems, the information which it provides is of great use in the field of planning. An up-to-date check of bombing accuracy and the effectiveness of the weapons used makes it possible to predict within reasonably accurate limits the amount of effort which is required for particular tasks, and thus one aspect of economies of alternative operations can be assessed in advance. In this way, the cost of the major air operations in "Neptune "was assessed with a relatively high degree of accuracy. At the same time, such studies, once again, demonstrated that too great a value cannot be placed on' training, and on the improvement of bombing accuracy. As the latter improves, the potential power of a bomber force also increases, but at afar greater rate. Relationship of Strategical to Tactical Bomber Operations 526. The concept of strategical and tactical air forces as separate entities frequently breaks down in operations in which the activities of the air are interwoven with those of the ground forces. Phased operations by strategical and tactical air forces are sometimes different and at other itimes the same points within the same target system and within the same general time limits means that there is an inter-relation of effects throughout the whole period the target system is under fire. 527. The inter-relation of effects becomes evident when one considers the premier part played by the strategical air forces insetting •the state for “Neptune ”,not only for sub­sequent operations of a tactical nature by the tactical air forces, but also for the battle.ground As we have already seen, this pre­paratory phase occupied the three months pre­ceding D-Day by which time heavy bomber, and to a lesser extent, medium bomber attacks on rail centres achieved their full purpose of causing a catastrophic decline in the potential of the railways. The ensuing chaos, which is difficult to describe, was accentuated by the subsequent fighter and medium bomber attacks on bridges, on trains, and on open lines. If they :had not been aided by the heavy blows which had already been delivered by heavy bombers on the key points of the railway systems, the tactical air forces could hardly have played the successful part they did in bringing organised rail movement to a virtual standstill nor could the isolation of the battle­field have been subsequently achieved as rapidly as it was. Further, the preparatory bombing of the railway system by the strategical forces at the same time drove the enemy increasingly to the inroads spite of his precarious M.T. and fuel situation, and so fighter .bombers and fighters were presented with road targets, which, as the record shows, they were aible to exploit to the full. In fact, as we now know, road and rail movement became so hazardous an undertaking that the enemy’s forward troops were as frequently as not starved of the means with which to con­tinue the fight. These integrated and phased operations against the enemy’s lines of com­munication were a decisive factor both in the success of our initial landings, in that they slowed down considerably the enemy's build­up and concentration of reinforcement, and in the successful outcome of the whole battle in France. 528. Again, in the sphere of direct Army support, whilst it was the fighter bomber which in general had the last word so far as the Air Forces were concerned in the tactical defeat of the enemy in France and Belgium, it was the heavy bomber and medium bomber which, two months before D-Day, began the aN.ack on the enemy’s defences. Thus, although the pre D-Day attacks on coastal batteries were unsuccessful in destroying guns under thick concrete cover, they not only stopped con­structional work in half finished batteries, but also caused sufficient general damage to reduce critically by D-Day -the efficiency of those which had been completed. In fact, opposition offered by the coastal defences was relatively so slight that there was virtually little opportunity for the employment of the fighter bomber against enemy forces in the landing areas. 529. Moreover, the operations in Normandy again made it clear that heavy bombers when used in support of a land battle can, in addition to their direct assistance to the land forces in the attack, open up to the tactical air forces a wealth of targets normally otherwise denied them when the static battle in consequence of the bombing became a war of movement. Major retreats, or the marshalling of forces for a counter-attack-, could be carried out only in the open, and once the enemy was exposed the result of the fighter bomber attacks was a foregone conclusion. 530. In a sense, this fusing of the operation of different components of the air forces is merely an extension of a principle which has already been recognised in attacks on the G.A.F. The destruction by our strategical air forces of the enemy's aircraft factories and of his fuel industy represents only one part of a.single comprehensive plan. Apart from the attrition as a result of air fighting, there was also the complementary action— the ex­ploitation in "Neptune ''of the bombing of airfields. The latter operations achieved their purpose, in particular by still further reducing the resources tfhe enemy enjoyed in France, both in aircraft and crews, in airfields, and in aircraft maintenance factories. Unified Control of Air Effort 531. Because of the foregoing considerations, and if the best results are to be achieved in the most economic manner, it is essential that the direction of air operations which call for the employment of air forces from various countries and commands should be placed in the hands of one airman to ensure the necessary unity of command and planning:. The need for this is enually apparent when one views the inter-relation of the ground and air forces in operations in which heavy bombers are used in a tactical role. 532. The latter operations are in every sense of the term“ Inter-Service Operations The danger of treating the ibomber as merely a component part of a Corps artillery, thrown in merely to add some fire support, can at
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