The Invasion of Europe

Winston Churchill, recovering from a bout of pneumonia, with General Eisenhower (left), General Sir Henry Maitland-Wilson (right) and other military chiefs in Italy, 25 Dec 1943. Imperial War Museums

WE ARE attacking Germany by blockade and by assault. These are the only ways to attack a country, just as they are the only ways to attack a fortress. They are complementary, and usually necessary to each other. Blockade strikes at the enemy's means of making war, seeking to weaken or disarm him. Assault strikes at his armed forces, seeking to overcome them and penetrate into his home territory.

Before the invention of the airplane, blockade could be said to be external pressure, while assault sought to exercise internal pressure. This distinction no longer stands, for air power has made it possible to carry on an internal blockade as well as an external one. The operations of air power are, indeed, a form of blockade rather than a form of assault, curious as this may sound. These operations are directed at industrial facilities, railways, docks, shipping, canal locks, and other fixed targets of like nature. Their purpose is to prevent the enemy from moving raw materials from their sources to manufacturing centers, and from moving finished munitions from manufacturing centers to the fighting fronts. It makes no difference, in principle, whether this process is interrupted by destroying a railway bridge between the mine and the factory, or by destroying the factory itself. The basic idea is to disarm the enemy by depriving him of the means of making things to fight with.

Whether air power by itself can be decisive in the war against such a nation as Germany has been a matter of much controversy. It is a controversy that may never be decided. If the Germans were to offer to surrender unconditionally tomorrow, there would be enthusiasts to claim that air power did it, and there would be counter-enthusiasts to claim that the Russian Army did it. The fact is, of course, that if there were no Russian Army, the Germans would be able to put a lot more effort into defending themselves against Anglo-American air attack; and if

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