An Economic and Social History of Europe From 1939 to the by Frank B. Tipton, Robert Aldrich

By Frank B. Tipton, Robert Aldrich

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The strategic air offensive did score one spectacular success, but it marked a return to the original strategy of 'precision' bombing. Beginning in mid1944 American and British bombers began to raid oil fields and refineries systematically, causing a fuel shortage which hampered the movement of mechanised army units and drastically reduced the number of German fighter planes in the air . For the last year of the war the Allies had complete command of the air on all fronts . Round-the-clock strategic bombing - British by night, American by day - eventually did have an impact on German industrial output, and unimpeded tactical support could be provided for Allied ground troops, by whom the war had to be won.

After the initial shock of defeat, small resistance movements began to spring up throughout the occupied nations of western and central Europe, encouraged by the Nazis' failure to defeat Britain and more directly by Churchill's 'ministry of ungentlemanly warfare', the Special Operations Executive. By 1941 a network of resistance organisations was already in place, disseminating anti-German propaganda, aiding those wanting to escape, passing on military intelligence to the British and undertaking acts of sabotage.

France and Belgium were quickly liberated, with some of the burden being borne by the Free French forces. There was one final German offensive, the Battle of the Bulge, but by early 1945 THE SECOND WORLD WAR 43 Allied forces were pressing into Germany from the west as the Russians penetrated from the east. The air war As the Allied armies massed on Germany's borders, day and night bombs rained down from the sky. The strategic air offensive highlighted the links between military and civilian, between technology and the economy and between science and technology.

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