Life expectancy on the job was just two weeks. Of the 125,000 who volunteered, 55,000 died, 15,000 were wounded and 10,000 taken prisoner. Most of those who lost their lives were less than 25 years old, many of them teenagers. Primitive equipment and aircraft hindered Bomber Commands early efforts - they were often unable to even find their targets. But the mass production of two new bomber aicraft, the Halifax and the Lancaster, helped turn the airwar. The raids played an important role in weakening the German war effort – although it tragically cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of German civilians.
The hostility in Germany to the British ‘terror fliers’ led to some of the downed airmen ending up in Buchenwald, one of the most notorious Nazi concentration camps. Some of the last survivors speak for the first time about how they escaped death in the camp, suffering malnutrition, disease and brutal punishments at the hands of SS guards.Screenshot: