Henry Tizard

Henry Tizard

Henry Tizard was born in 1885. Educated at Westminster School and Magdalen College, Oxford, he served in the Royal Air Force in the First World War and in 1918 became assistant comptroller of aeronautical research.

In 1933 Tizard was appointed as chairman of the Aeronautical Research Committee and served in this post for most of the Second World War.

After the war Tizard served as chairman of the Defence Research Policy Committee and president of the British Association.

Henry Tizard died in 1959.

Primary Sources

(1) Robert Boothby, Boothby: Recollections of a Rebel (1978)

I soon came to the conclusion that the policy of area bombing of Germany, then being pursued mainly by Wellington bombers, was not paying off, because the expenditure of our resources and, still more, of our skilled manpower, was far greater than the results achieved. Too many of our bombs were dropped in fields. German arms production was not being seriously interfered with. The best that could be said for it was that a considerable number of Goering's fighter aircraft, which might have been sent to other fronts, had to be kept in Germany. The truth is that in those days the instruments for accurate navigation did not exist. There were high hopes of one gadget, which I did not begin to understand; and which was brought to us one day in a brand-new Wellington bomber. All the navigators in the squadron went up to see how it worked. Five minutes after take-off, a wing fell off the plane, and they were all killed.

Early in 1942, Lindemann, by then a member of the Cabinet, circulated his famous paper on strategic bombing. This said that if it was concentrated entirely on German working class houses, and 'military objectives' as such were forgotten, it would be possible to destroy fifty per cent of all the houses in the larger towns of Germany quite soon. Charming! The paper was strongly opposed by the scientists, headed by Sir Henry Tizard and Professor Blackett. Tizard calculated that Lindemann's estimate was five times too high, and Blackett that it was six times too high. But Lindemann was Churchill's man; and Lindemann prevailed. After the war the bombing survey revealed that his estimate was ten times too high.

The story of the Lindemann-Tizard controversy has been well told by C. P. Snow in his book Science and Government; and I have not seen it seriously contradicted. But one thing remains to be said. I think the scientists underestimated the psychological effect of our bombing policy not upon the German but upon the British people. They themselves were under heavy bombardment; and between 1941 and 1944 bombing was the only method by which we could directly hit back. I am sure that it gave a tremendous boost to British morale; and that, to this extent at least, the thousands of brave and skilled young men in Bomber Command did not give their lives in vain.