Editorial Note: From Balloons to Drones is pleased to announce our new podcast series. Led by Assistant Editor Dr Mike Hankins, the series builds on the success of From Balloons to Drones, and it provides an outlet for the presentation and evaluation of air power scholarship, the exploration of historical topics and ideas, and provides a way to reach out to both new scholars and the general public. You can find our Soundcloud channel here.
In our latest podcast, we interview Dr Stephen Bourque, author of Beyond the Beach: The Allied War Against France, to talk about the allied bombing of occupied France in 1944. Through a detailed look at local French sources, combined with official US sources, Bourque provides as thorough – and possibly controversial – assessment of General Dwight Eisenhower’s use of air power.
Dr Stephen A. Bourque served in the US Army for 20 years after which he obtained his PhD at Georgia State University. He has taught history at several military and civilian schools and universities, including the US Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies, and Command and General Staff College, where he is professor emeritus.
Header Image: Interior of one of the E-boat pens at le Havre, showing the collapsed ferroconcrete roof, caused by 12,000-lb deep-penetration ‘Tallboy’ bombs dropped by No. 617 Squadron RAF in a daylight raid on 14 June 1944. (Source: © IWM (CL 1208))
One thought on “#Podcast – Beyond the Beach: An Interview with Dr Stephen Bourque”
I greatly enjoyed the interview. However, I couldn’t help thinking throughout its course “Or what?” What should they have done given what they had to work with? The weapons were crude, the men half trained, navigation haphazard, the weather uncertain; there was not much time to spare and the consequences of failure very bad. The leaders knew air power at the time was maybe 80% waste and 20% effective but that 20% was decisive. They couldn’t afford to not to fully use it, waste and counterproductive effects and innocents killed and all.
Dr. Bourque adopts a bit of an arch tone that I don’t think warranted. For example, it is a bit much to call bombing road hubs a war crime. Generally a crime requires requires mens rea, evil intent. Bombing road hubs didn’t work and killed lots of innocents but it was done to the same purpose as dropping a bridge, stop or hinder enemy movement, not to kill French families. It was ill advised but it wasn’t a crime.
One thing wasn’t covered in the interview that I would have been interested in. What was the opinion of the French forces and authorities in Britain of the proposed operations at the time? That is an important bit of information to know.