The Spectator

Letters: How to make a cup of tea

No defence

Sir: Jon Stone (Letters, 15 February) recalls the horrors and miseries of being subjected to bombing from the air. How right he is to do so. The deliberate burning and crushing of civilians in their homes is a revolting and indefensible form of warfare. It is no surprise that Hitler used it.

What is surprising is that people in this country continue to make excuses for our own use of this method, which was actually far more extensive and deadly than the German bombing of the United Kingdom. There are no such excuses. Those who fall back on utilitarian justifications will also find that these do not work. The bombing of Germany failed on its own terms. Its alleged achievements in diverting aircraft and artillery from the eastern front would have been far greater had we attacked military and industrial targets. Of course the German massacre of the Jews was worse beyond comparison and those who try to equate these events are to be despised. But the perpetration of a uniquely great evil does not wipe out lesser evils.

There is much talk of Dresden, but almost none of the dozens of other cities on whose people we rained death. The point remains that the British government knew it could not hit military targets accurately by night, and did not (unlike the USA) develop the capacity to bomb by day. So it ordered the bombing of cities, concentrating on poor areas where housing was densest. I have thought for some time that our modern moral coarseness in so many areas of life is a result of our continuing failure to recognise what we did, and show proper contrition for it.
Peter Hitchens
London W8

Rescuing pangolins

Sir: Jason Goodwin wrote of a pangolin in ‘A dish served cold’ (15 February).

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