All RAF aircrews were volunteers. They had an average age of 22.
Of 125,000 bomber aircrew involved, more than 55,000 were killed, over 8,000 were wounded and nearly 10,000 were prisoners of war. This was on a scale proportionate to British casualties in the trenches during the worst period of World War One.
43,000 British civilians were killed during the Blitz.
Through the bombing offensive, 593,000 German civilians died and 3.37 million dwellings were destroyed, including 600,000 in Berlin alone.
Hastings’ final judgment reads:
“The bomber offensive partly fulfilled useful purposes for the Allied war effort. Bomber Command entirely satisfied Churchill’s hopes… by fighting a long holding-action to buy time before launching Overlord on overwhelmingly favourable terms. If airmen had pitched their demands for resources, their own hopes and their subsequent claims more modestly, history might have judged them more kindly. As it was, the cost of the bomber offensive in life, treasure and moral superiority over the enemy tragically outstripped the results that it achieved” (458).