PR and Public Image: RAF & Bomber Command

During the war, the exploits of Bomber Command were celebrated in all the mass media, including newspapers, newsreel, and radio. Although there were other equally dramatic operations, perhaps none captured the public’s imagination so much as the Dams Raid of May 1943, led by Guy Gibson.

Post-war, however, the tide began to turn against the operations which bomber aircrew had carried out.

One of the joys of research is the accidental discovery of wonderful items. Whilst looking through Hansard on quite a different track, I came across the 12 March 1946 debate in the House of Commons on the future of the RAF. This is a very long debate, and some of it is of little interest now except academically. However, two speakers made very interesting references to their own wartime experiences in the RAF.

Wing Commander Millington’s contribution to the debate was impassioned. Perhaps this is one of the earliest public mentions of what is often called the ‘betrayal’ of Bomber Command, meaning the way in which the public and the politicians turned away from the bombing campaigns as if, in the post-war world, they had become ashamed of them.

Public Image of Bomber Command and the RAF

 

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