The Spitfires and Hurricanes of RAF Fighter Command defended the United Kingdom against German aerial attacks and Bomber Command’s role was to attack the enemy’s own military strength by bombing their airbases, shipping, troops, communications and all industries used in the German war effort. Bringing together British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand air forces, this vital task fell to aircrews with an average age of just 22. The youngest were scarcely 18 yet they faced some of the most terrifying combat conditions of the war.
Bomber Command is credited with destroying a significant proportion of Nazi Germany’s industries and many of Germany’s cities. Its greatest contribution to winning the war was considered the huge diversion of German resources into defending the homeland. In total 364,514 operational sorties were flown, 1,030,500 tons of bombs were dropped and 8,325 aircraft lost in action. Bomber Command crews also suffered an extremely high casualty rate 55,573 killed out of a total of 125,000 aircrew (a 44.4% death rate), a further 8,403 were wounded in action and 9,838 became prisoners of war.