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Posted on Jan 20, 2006 in Armchair Reading

Re: Raid on Dresden, Jan, 2006

By Peter C. Vorum

Found you in Krogers, Fairborn, OH.
The National Museum of the USAF (formerly Air Force Museum) at Wright-Patterson AFB, has distinguished speakers. General Pitts (then Major) was chief of ops in the 8th AF. He planned Dresden. In the post-speech Q&A, I said I’d heard that Curtis LeMay was involved, testing to see if a fire storm could be created (asphalt in Dresden melted); that he proved it in Dresden, then shipped out to hit Japan. Pitts said he’d not heard that LeMay was involved, but that the reasons for Dresden were:
 * the British asked for it: payback for Coventry and London??
 * Dresden (the machine shop of Eastern Europe) was still putting out war essentials, so….
 * help soften things up for the Russians, who were about 60 miles away
 * Dresden was a rail head that had not been damaged before. Destroy rail service, to help the Russians.
A co-worker was an enlisted ‘toggle-er’ on a B-24, who hit Dresden.  Formations crossed the city at different angles. When the bombs hit, he said buildings went down like dominoes, first from one direction, then another.  When they got back, many crew members were crying because they knew that lots of civilians would be killed. As his group left, he looked back, and said the horizon was red.
A neighbor grew up in Dresden. Her family was out in the country. They got an emergency call; "come immediately". Her Dad was a surgeon. It was cold.  Bodies were stacked 12 feet high like cord wood.


* * *


Although Frederick Taylor’s book (Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945) focuses on the RAF bombing raids on Dresden, the reasons reported to have been given in General Pitts’ remarks about US targeting criteria are mostly consistent with those that Taylor reports RAF targeting officers used to select Dresden. This further indicates that bombing Dresden was, essentially, "business as usual," i.e. a routine targeting decision in the allied bombing campaign and not an extraordinary case. The terrible results, of course, remain an appalling example of the effects of area bombing strategy, but, as Taylor brings out, the coincidental fire-storm producing weather conditions, public apathy about air raids and the failure of Nazi officials to provide adequate air raid shelters were prime contributing factors that tragically raised the casualty count.

Jerry Morelock
Armchair General
Managing Editor/Senior Historian