My post of 27 April contained a Press photograph of Harris using a stereopticon. It was only when I came to do a post on the RAF Pathfinders Archive website, also entitled ‘Photography in the Air War‘, that I realised the link between the Press photograph and the article in The Illustrated London News covered on the Archive’s website.
There is a Bryan de Grineau drawing in The Illustrated London News, 26 February 1944, which shows what appear to be two stereopticons on Harris’s desk. It became clear from the clock and the map in the background that the Press photograph of Harris was taken in his office, so he must have been sitting on the other side of his desk for the photograph above. The clock in the photograph shows quarter past four, the clock in the drawing, which obviously would have taken much longer to complete than a photograph, shows five to two.
What is most interesting is that the date for the release of the photograph was 25 February 1944 and the date for The Illustrated London News article was only one day later. This suggests that the Press were invited to Bomber Command HQ, probably on 20 February 1944 (the date of the photograph), for a formal unveiling of the role of photographic intelligence in Bomber Command’s war.
The RAF were extremely astute in their PR management, and this would have been a very well-planned release of key information.
As a small aside on the drawing, the chap on the left looks rather as if he is being carpeted by Harris, which must have been a petrifying experience. On the right, foreground, Deputy C-in-C, Sir Robert Saundby.