The bombing of Le Havre in 1944

Aug 2010
15,664
Welsh Marches
#3
The bombing was justified I think in view of the military situation, the Germans had appointed the port to be a Festung, but the British commander refused an offer from the German commander to allow French civilians to leave, and this led to a cause celebre, because William Douglas-Home (a younger brother of the PM Sir Alec Douglas-Home) refused to take part in the operation as a result and was court-martialled:
William Douglas Home - Wikipedia
I don't know why the offer from the Germans was refused, but the fact is that evacuations of French civilians were always allowed in comparable situations on subsequent occasions, and it looks as if definite orders on the matter were issued from higher up as a result of the loss of French lives at Le Havre.
 
Mar 2019
512
Kansas
#4
I don't know why the offer from the Germans was refused, but the fact is that evacuations of French civilians were always allowed in comparable situations on subsequent occasions, and it looks as if definite orders on the matter were issued from higher up as a result of the loss of French lives at Le Havre.
According to Wiki, it was because of the expected delay to the operations. It appears once the allies realized how many civilians were killed they made it a bit of a policy to accept such offers in the future.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,077
#6
Checking this French site, part of the problem seems to have been that the Germans ordered the French citizens to clear out in advance, and they refused. Otoh the same French civilians had no concept of the allies just stomping their town flat, with them in it.
The bombings of 1944
 
Aug 2010
15,664
Welsh Marches
#8
"In the simplest terms not bomb." How wonderfully easy it is for us to say this knd of thing when it has no consequences for us! Do you actually know anything about the operation? Le Havre was heavily fortified with a large garrison and had to be taken by assault, would any sane commander have sent in his troops without prior shelling and bombing to ear down the defences? I don't pretend to know anyhting about this, but looking briefly at internet articles, the bombing seems to have been essential to the success of the operation.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,077
#9
"In the simplest terms not bomb." How wonderfully easy it is for us to say this knd of thing when it has no consequences for us! Do you actually know anything about the operation? Le Havre was heavily fortified with a large garrison and had to be taken by assault, would any sane commander have sent in his troops without prior shelling and bombing to ear down the defences? I don't pretend to know anyhting about this, but looking briefly at internet articles, the bombing seems to have been essential to the success of the operation.
Actually I do.

It was a "simple" question. So a "simple" answer.

Mostly people don't tend to want to be responsible for tragedies. Which is why they are tragedies, since ALL choices are the wrong ones.
 
Aug 2010
15,664
Welsh Marches
#10
In such a situation I don't think a commander can ask his troops to risk - and in many cases, lose - their lives in an assault against a town without reducing the defences beforehand by bombing and shelling, and no commander would in fact do so; so I would view this as a tragedy that lay in the very nature of such a war rather than in the decision of this commander, who actually made the only possible choice.
 

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