David Lewis Memorial Seminar - Strategic Attack: From Bomber Command Through To The Present Day

14 May 2012 12:45

David Lewis Memorial Seminar - Strategic Attack: From Bomber Command Through To The Present Day


David Lewis and David Cameron
   David Lewis being presented with a
   picture of a Lancaster bomber by the
   Prime Minister.

The aircrews of RAF Bomber Command will finally receive the recognition they deserve at the unveiling of the new Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park on 28 June 2012 by a member of the Royal Family. But what is the state of the historical debate on the effectiveness and morality of the air campaign over Europe during World War II? What are the legacies and lessons of that campaign for today’s air operations? And how do the debates of 1939-45 between air and ground commanders resonate today?

Policy Exchange has assembled a unique panel of experts – including historians, practitioners of air power including contemporary viewpoints from senior French Air Force and Roayl Air Force servicemen, as well as key political decision makers —to discuss these issues at a half day seminar.

Speakers include Professor Richard Overy and Professor Michael Burleigh, two leading historians of World War II; Professor Eliot Cohen, former Counsellor the US Department of State and author of the USAF's Gulf War Air War Power Survey after 1991; General Jack Keane, USA (Ret), former Acting US Army Chief of Staff and a key player in the "surge" in Iraq - and three former UK Defence ministers.

The seminar is held to honour the memory of David Lewis, CBE (1924-2011), who served as a navigator in Wellington and Lancaster bombers in No 75 New Zealand Squadron of the RAF. David Lewis later went on to become one Britain’s leading clothing retailers as co-founder of Chelsea Girl and River Island. He was one of the largest individual contributors to the new Bomber Association Memorial – believing to the end of his life that the 55,573 of his comrades in arms who died in combat had been inadequately recognised.


0830 - 0900


0900 - 0905

Introduction: Dean Godson (Research Director, Policy Exchange)

0905 - 0910

Remembering David Lewis: Bernard Lewis (River Island) and Douglas Radcliffe (Bomber Command Association)

0910 - 1020

First Session – “Strategic Bombing in WW2”

Chair – Air Chief Marshal Sir Brian Burridge (former Commander-in-Chief, RAF Strike Command)

Themes / Speakers:

  • Where is the historical debate on Bomber Command heading? Professor Richard Overy (Professor of History, University of Exeter)
  • Review of the political aspects, including high level decision-making, and overall impact of the WW2 strategic bombing campaign. Mr Seb Cox (Head of the RAF’s Air Historical Branch)
  • Legal & moral aspects of the WW2 strategic bombing campaign. Professor Michael Burleigh (Historian)
  • Social impact on the people of both Allied and Axis forces. Colonel Mark Wells (Chairman of the History Department at the US Air Force Academy)
1020 - 1040 Break

1040 -

Second Session – “Strategic Air Power Today”

Chair – General (Retd) Paul Newton, formerly Commander Force Development and Training, British Army now Professor of Security and Strategy, University of Exeter

Keynote Address - Professor Eliot A. Cohen (Professor of Strategic Studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at the Johns Hopkins University)

Themes / Speakers:

  • Strategic Attack. Dr Thomas Ehrhard (Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force)
  • Strategic effect of modern airpower, including benefits of technological advancement. Air Commodore Edward Stringer (Head of Joint Capability, Ministry of Defence)
  • Social, moral & legal aspects of modern campaigning. Dr Peter Gray (Senior Research Fellow in Air Power Studies at Birmingham University)
  • Recent operations, including benefits and problems associated with multinational / coalition operations. Major General Patrick Charaix (Deputy Commander, French Air Defence and Air Operations)
1200 -

Third Session – “Political angle and decision making in a modern campaign”

Chair – Professor Eliot A. Cohen (see above)


  • Rt Hon Lord King of Bridgwater, Secretary of State for Defence, 1989-1992
  • Rt Hon Lord Hutton, Secretary of State for Defence, 2008-2009
  • Rt Hon Lord Gilbert, Minister of State for Defence, 1976-1979 and 1997-1999
  • General Jack Keane, USA, former Acting US Army Chief of Staff




The Ideas Space, Policy Exchange, 10 Storey's Gate, Westminster, SW1P 3AY
david lewis memorial seminar - strategic attack: from bomber command through to the present day