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Arthur (Bomber) Harris

Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris - copyright freeLink with the Chilterns

Lived at “Springfields,” Great Kingshill during WW2 whilst he was Chief of Bomber Command at Walters Ash, High Wycombe. Later lived at The Ferry House in Goring-on-Thames.


13th April 1892


5th April 1984


Born in Cheltenham, Arthur Harris joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1915 becoming a fighter pilot.

In 1918 he became a Squadron Leader in the newly formed Royal Air Force.

During the 1920s and 1930s he served throughout the British Empire with bomber squadrons.

In 1933 he was appointed to the Directorate of Operations and Intelligence, based in Kingsway, London.

In 1937 he returned to bombers, as Air Commodore AOC 4 Group, moving on to AOC 5 Group in 1939, by which time he had become an Air Vice Marshall.

In November 1940 Harris re-entered the Air Ministry as Deputy Chief of Air Staff.

In 1942 he was appointed as Commander in Chief of Bomber Command and promoted to Air Chief Marshall.

Harris masterminded the successful allied bombing strategy for the remainder of WW2 from his base at Bomber Command HQ in High Wycombe. From the outset he implemented new and more efficient bombing strategies, to counter the heavy day time losses and wildly inaccurate night time raids.

Incorrectly blamed for the massive bombing raids on cities, culminating in the infamous raid in Dresden in February 1945, history has shown that the decision to make these raids was made and ordered by HM Government and War Cabinet in which Lord Attlee played a prominent role.

Harris was appointed Marshall of the Royal Air Force in 1946.

He felt Bomber Command was never given the recognition he believed it deserved and his men were never awarded any campaign medals, something that angered Harris greatly, especially considering the appalling loss of life within Bomber Command.

He retired from the RAF in 1946 and embarked on a successful business career in South Africa, returning to England in 1953, having bought “The Ferry House” at Goring-on-Thames, where he lived the remainder of his life.

A monument to Harris was erected near Trafalgar Square in London in 1992.

Further Information

Wycombe's Contribution to Aviation by David Scott and Ian Simmons, published by Wycombe District Council and available from the Information Centres in Princes Risborough, Marlow and High Wycombe

Bomber Harris, His Life and Times. biography by Henry Probert, published by Greenhill Books 2006.

Online biography of Bomber Harris

RAF Bomber Command website

Grid Reference


What you can visit

The RAF Museum at Hendon in north London has a section on bombers

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