He was directly and deliberately responsible for ordering the deaths of hundreds of thousands of mostly innocent women, children and elderly in Germany during World War II. He ought to have been tried for war crimes alongside the defendants at Nuremberg.
In fact, however, he was laden with honours.
In 1942 the British Cabinet agreed to the area bombing of German cities. Harris was tasked with implementing Churchill's policy which, in turn, was based upon the erroneous and superficial "scientific" guess work of Professor Frederick Lindemann, later Viscount Cherwell.
Harris's preference for area bombing over precision targeting was controversial at the time and hotly contested by wiser heads like that of Sir Henry Tizard, career scientist and head of department in the civil service, who actually knew much better what they were talking about.
Harris was not even dissuaded from his pet idea of "carpet bombing" by his seniors, Portal and Churchill, both of whom had access to better intelligence than Harris, and serious misgivings were frequently expressed about the campaign by airmen, civil servants, military leaders and politicians. Catholic Labour MP, Sir Richard Stokes, and churchmen like Bishop Bell of Chichester, both of whom were members of the Bombing Restriction Committee and were, in addition, in touch with the German resistance to Hitler, were highly critical of carpet bombing civilians.
The British government would have no dealings with the German resistance, preferring to deal largely with Communists due to the pathetic obsession with Stalin of left-leaning Conservative MP and Foreign Secretary, Sir Anthony Eden, later Earl of Avon. Eden was vain, arrognat and politically short-sighted. The result was often disastrous.
The bombing campaign was another result of the thoroughly bigoted, racist and immoral policy of unconditional surrender which regarded all Germans and all Italians as odious enemies.
The Battle of Hamburg, codenamed Operation Gomorrah, was a campaign of air raids beginning 24 July 1943 for 8 days and 7 nights. It was at the time the heaviest assault in the history of aerial warfare and was later called the "Hiroshima of Germany" by British officials.
Gomorrah was originally formulated by Cherwell and Harris who persuaded Churchill. The operation was conducted by RAF Bomber Command (including RCAF Squadrons) and the USAAF Eighth Air Force. The British conducted the night raids and the USAAF conducted daylight raids.
On the night of 27 July, shortly before midnight, nearly 800 aircraft attacked Hamburg. The unusually dry and warm weather, the concentration of the bombing in one area, and firefighting limitations due to Blockbuster bombs used in the early part of the raid culminated in the so-called "Feuersturm" (firestorm).
This created a huge inferno with winds of up to 240 km/h (150 mph) and reaching temperatures of 800 °C (1,500 °F), which incinerated some eight square miles (21 km²) of the city. Asphalt streets burst into flame, and most of the casualties caused by Operation Gomorrah happened on this night (many killed were in shelters).
On the night of 29 July, Hamburg was again attacked by over 700 aircraft. The last raid of Operation Gomorrah was conducted on 3 August.
The number killed is unknown as many were simply obliterated without trace.
The first German city to be carpet-bombed was Cologne and many more German cities were obliterated by allied bombing thereafter, including, famously, Dresden in February 1945.
Thousands of children were in the streets of Dresden in their carnival costumes and were horribly incinerated. Also present were thousands of refugees from the East, men, women and children. They, too, perished in the firestorm that obliterated Dresden.
Ironically, however, the carpet bombing campaign was a total failure, strategically, lengthened the war rather than shortened it and, according to some, very nearly caused the allies to lose the war.
Tizard had called Cherwell's estimates of the likely damage inaccurate by about 7 times. In fact, they were out by more than 10 times as the post-war Strategic Bombing Survey of Webster and Frankland amply proved.
German civilian morale rose to new heights during the bombing since they became more disposed to believe Goebbels' propaganda about the "terror air raids" and were more willing to defend themselves from these terrifying attacks.
Hamburg as a city had been particularly pro-British before the campaing and a very fruitful ground for building resistance to Hitler. Once the bombing campaign arrived in Hamburg all such pro-British feeling disappeared and the resistance to Hitler evaporated.
But Harris and Cherwell were chiefly interested in revenge killing and were determined to slaughter as much German life as possible - even children.
German war production rose to its greatest level during the height of the strategic bombing campaign and Professor Pat Blackett, the chief scientific adviser to the Admiralty during the war, claimed that the carpet bombing campaign actually lengthened the war by between 6 and 12 months by failing to attack industrial and military targets and, instead, concentrating upon the homes of working class families.
The disgustingly brutal Harris was quite clear about his policy and unblushingly stated:
"...the aim of the Combined Bomber Offensive...should be unambiguously stated [as] the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers, and the disruption of civilized life throughout Germany.
It should be emphasized that the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives, the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale, and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing, are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy. They are not by-products of attempts to hit factories."
His own airman used to complain to their superiors that they did not relish the policy of killing women and children first and using a Cathedral as an aiming point.
Roskill, the official Naval historian, was in no doubt that the Battle of the Atlantic was very nearly lost for the want of 2 or 3 more long-range bomber squadrons, all of which had been taken away to bomb innocent children in Germany.
The strategic bombing campaign is one of the blackest marks upon the good name of the allied air forces and prepared the way for the decision to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last being dropped right on top of Urukami Catholic Cathedral of St Mary in the centre of Japanese Catholicism by American aircrew which, with terrible irony, numbered Irish-American Catholics among them.
President Harry Truman, Freemason and Democrat Party leader, dishonestly told the American public in a broadcast that Hiroshima was a "military base".
Blessed Emperor Charles of Austria had condemned the bombing of cities and innocent civilians in World War I and forbade his troops ever to do so.
Blessed Pope John XXIII and Vatican II were both entirely right to condemn the concept of carpet bombing, mass destruction and atomic bombing of cities.
Indeed, it is a grotesquely evil moral crime of the highest order.