The battle had been brewing for some time; a battle not of men in combat, but a battle of time. General Ira Eaker in 1942 was intent to prove that precision day-time bombing was preferable to night-time “guess bombing”. He believed air power could help win the war by “the destruction of carefully chosen strategic targets”. For obvious reasons these strategic targets could only be identified during the day.
Not being a general that sat behind a desk, Eaker took part in the first American daylight bombing raid on German occupied France on August 17, 1942. The results of this raid proved that daylight raids could be successful. But not all were convinced of their worth, among them British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Churchill was convinced that the American Air force should be placed under British control and take up night bombing raids only. It was at the Casablanca Conference in 1943 where Eaker pressed and won his case stating in a memo to Churchill “If the Royal Air Force continues night bombing, and we by day, we shall bomb them round the clock and the devil shall get no rest.”
On June 6th 1944, D-Day in Europe, Eaker, who was in command of the Mediterranean Allied Air Force, was in Russia when he learned of the invasion, and the fact that the German Air Force didn’t show, Eaker called that moment “my greatest personal satisfaction in W.W.II." General Haywood Hansell, 1st Bomb Wing commander in the 8th Air Force said this of Eaker, “Had he bowed to the RAF and British requirements to go in for night bombing, the whole course of the war would have been changed. It would have been quite impossible to defeat the German Air Force”.
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