The bombing of Le Havre in 1944


Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
There were large numbers of civilians killed after the d-day landings, especially around Caen. Le Havre, it seems to me, is different in so far as there was an offer of free passage. Whilst civilians do get caught up and killed in fighting, there was the possibility of avoiding it here. It's not really a question of whether Le Havre had to be taken but more why weren't the civilians given free passage?
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Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
In simplest terms, not bomb.

Large scale bombing in WWII like was done at le Havre was the very opposite of "precision"; for want of means of precise targeting and guidance blow the heck out of a piece of geography through saturation.
City was declared a fortress. German garrison was not leaving, not going to surrender without putting up a fight, without at least having justification. So what are the Allies supposed to do? Sit on it for the rest of the war, in a costly siege? Assault with ground forces but without heavy fire support?

Without heavy fire support, attacking a heavily defended urban city is a guaranteed way to lose lots of troops. Large scale operational bombing worked, 500 lb pounds are better at destroying targets then artillery is. It saved Allied military lives, killed German ones, provided the fire support necessary for ground forces to take Le Havre. The ONLY problem was it killed a bunch of French civilians that might otherwise not, had they allowed them to leave. Lesson learned, next time take the opportunity to allow them to leave.

Still better than laying siege to a not hugely port for the duration of the war, forced to commit needed combat forces to contain them, which could be used for the more important strategic objective to end the war, breaking into Germany. Ergo, this method actually lengthens the war and means more death, more money.