It is a sobering reflection that opinion divides over whether the carpet bombing of German cities was morally right or even effective, but the young men of bomber command were people of great courage who knew they had every chance of not getting home alive. 55,573 lost their lives, including Henry Allen Litherland of Manchester. Casualties in Bomber Command were the highest of any branch of the British armed forces during the Second World War, and the life expectancy of bomber crews was appallingly short. Their wives and families were also painfully aware of the risks.
Henry Litherland worked at the John Rylands Library in Manchester city centre until he was called up to serve in the RAF in October 1941. He became a bomber pilot, and was decorated twice for bravery.
He was 22 when shot down near Berlin, where he is buried.
You can read more about Henry Litherland in John Hodgson’s account in the John Rylands Library Blog.