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30 Note by Bruce

[LONDON], 28 August 1942


There was to-day included in the War Cabinet distribution a Note
by Air Marshal Sir Arthur Harris, Commander in Chief, Bomber
Command, which he had prepared at the request of the Prime

The Note is a dreadful production and my views on it are
summarised in the comments attached. [1]

I sent for Bridges after I had dictated my comments and gave them
to him to read. He quite obviously thought there was a good deal
to be said for my point of view, but it was equally clear that he
did not want me to send my comments to him for distribution to the
Members of the War Cabinet. His argument was that the report by
Harris had been prepared after there had been something of a
hectic discussion at Chequers and the Prime Minister had asked
Harris to put his views down on paper.

Bridges said that in the ordinary course the document would not
have been one which would have been circulated to the War Cabinet,
and he urged that Harris' ebullition should not be taken too

I told Bridges that that might be perfectly all right, but really
the document was an insult to the intelligence of the Cabinet and
I had some hesitancy in letting it pass unnoticed. I said,
however, I would think over whether I would ask for the
distribution of my comments.

I then spoke to Bridges about the question of the delay in
distributing any Notes that I might send to him. I told him that
with regard to my comments [2] on the Chiefs of Staff paper it
took an incredible time to see the light. I said that that I would
not tolerate. I told him I had no objection to his coming and
putting forward any grounds he might have upon which he suggested
some document of mine should not be distributed. I told him I
would be prefectly prepared to weigh any views he expressed, and I
also pointed out that I was capable of insisting upon the document
being distributed if I thought it should be. I said, however, what
I would not tolerate was my documents being held up. If, for any
reason, they could not immediately be distributed as War Cabinet
papers then I wanted to be told, and I would make my own
arrangements for communicating them to Members of the War Cabinet.

Bridges was completely apologetic and said that he would see that
there was no delay in future.

Bridges then said he would stir up the Air Ministry with regard to
the statement that was being prepared for the Cabinet. [3]

I told him I could not understand why all the delay was due. More
than a fortnight had gone since the Cabinet gave instructions for
the statement to be prepared and nothing had been produced.

Bridges protested that these statements took a long time to

My reply was that I would not accept that for a moment. There was
no reason why the statement could not be ready in 24 hours. At
this Bridges protested. I told him the position was either that
the Chiefs of Staff had not had proper information before them
when they agreed to their report to the Cabinet, or they had such
information and were deliberately stalling in producing it.

Bridges made the somewhat feeble reply that the Chiefs of Staff
were so familiar with all the figures that they had them in their
heads. That I said was quite ridiculous.

After I had seen Bridges I was proposing to have a word with
Cripps about Harris' Note, but found that Cripps was going down to
Bomber Command in the afternoon so I sent him a copy of my Note.

I also spoke to Attlee about Harris' report after the High
Commissioners Meeting. I found that Attlee had read it and there
were some comments upon a piece of paper attached to it in his own
handwriting, which he read to me. They were down the lines that
this is the worst possible way to present a case, and a case must
be weak which requires such extravagant statement to support it.

Attlee's comment was that we generally saw down similar lines with
regard to these questions, but I am afraid, notwithstanding the
strong views Attlee holds about the document, he will do nothing
at all.


1 Dated 28 August. On file AA:M100, August 1942. Harris had been
requested to prepare a note on the role and work of Bomber Command
but instead he had produced a strongly worded defence of Bomber
Command against the views of 'persons unspecified'.

2 Document 13.

3 See Document 21.

[AA:M100, AUGUST 1942]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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