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The RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF's bomber forces from 1936 to 1968, including Squadron XV, and was responsible for the strategic bombing of Germany during the Second World War.

When the command was founded in 1936 it was only intended to be a deterrent, but the reality when war broke out three years later was very different.

Bomber command crews suffered incredibly high casualty rates. A total of 55,573 died out of 125,000 (44.4 per cent mortality rate), 8,403 were injured and 9,838 became prisoners of war.

Most who flew were very young and the vast majority were still in their late teens. Crews came from across the globe – from the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and all corners of the Commonwealth, as well as from occupied nations including Poland, France and Czechoslovakia.

It took astonishing courage to endure the conditions they faced. Flying at night over occupied Europe, running the gauntlet of German night fighters, anti-aircraft fire and mid-air collisions.

The RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF's bomber forces from 1936 to 1968 and was responsible for the strategic bombing of Germany during the Second World War

The RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF's bomber forces from 1936 to 1968 and was responsible for the strategic bombing of Germany during the Second World War

But it was not until 1942 that the Bomber Command gained a real sense of direction, with the introduction of Air Marshal Arthur 'Bomber' Harris.

Harris was appointed as commander in chief of Bomber Command in February 1942, with instructions to start attacking German industry, much of which was located in large cities.

His objective was to destroy Germany's industrial might and create a collapse in the morale of the civilian workforce, breaking Germany's will to fight on.

Times were hard. Victory seemed distant, and chivalric notions of war fighting had been burned away in the fire of the Blitz. U-Boats were roaming the Atlantic, sinking merchant shipping in an effort to starve Britain into submission. 

The prospects of success were uncertain. Morale among British workers had largely held firm in the teeth of prolonged attacks by the German Air Force.

Harris, however, firmly believed that through a combination of improved aircraft like the Lancaster and Halifax, better training and navigational aids, and a ruthless will to press the attack, Bomber Command could knock Germany out of the war.

Bomber command crews suffered incredibly high casualty rates. A total of 55,573 died out of 125,000 (44.4 per cent mortality rate), 8,403 were injured and 9,838 became prisoners of war. Pictured: Wellington Bomber air crew who took part in the raid on Heligoland 

Bomber command crews suffered incredibly high casualty rates. A total of 55,573 died out of 125,000 (44.4 per cent mortality rate), 8,403 were injured and 9,838 became prisoners of war. Pictured: Wellington Bomber air crew who took part in the raid on Heligoland 

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