I was really ticked off by this bit of commentary in the Los Angeles Times "V-E Day--a Soiled Victory", talking about Dresden and the Tokyo firebombings and the awful things we had to do to win that war. Thank Heaven for the incomparable Victor Davis Hanson, who puts things in proper perspective.
Like Professor Hanson, I always wonder why, when we hear about WW II at all it is always about Dresden (which, by the way was a legitimate military target that the Ruskies were really after us to hit) and the internment. Why doesn't anyone ever talk--for example--about Ploesti, the raid on the Romanian oil refineries. It was planned to come in at tree top level, and heavy casualties were expected:
When the Traveling Circus and Flying Eight Balls began low-level practice flights along the English coast late in May, Colonel Johnson was quick to voice his opposition to low-level bombing, and equally prompt in obeying his orders. Recalled Robert Lenhausen, one of his pilots, "This (training) was right after a very mean and costly mission we'd made against the submarine pens at Kiel where we lost seven out of eighteen ships. And a few days before, a squadron of speedy B-26 medium bombers had tried a low-level raid on Holland and none came back. There was much murmuring and grumbling. Colonel Johnson told us in a calm, positive voice that if it was the desire of the Air Force to fly low-level missions we would fly those missions and he would lead us. There was complete silence in the room."
178 B-24 Liberators took off for the mission. They hit the refineries, but only 89 aircraft returned to base, and of those only 33 were fit to fly. Five Medals of Honor were awarded for the mission, a record that will probably stand for all time.