'Bomber' Harris
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Bomber Harris defends WWII bomber command in rare film

6 September 2014 Last updated at 23:59 BST

Arthur Harris led RAF Bomber Command in World War II, earning him the nickname 'Bomber Harris'.

The British policy of 'area' bombing German cities including Cologne and Dresden made him a hugely controversial figure.

BBC Inside Out has gained exclusive access to a rare interview with the Cheltenham-born RAF commander which has never been seen by the public.

After 35 years of collecting dust in the RAF's film archive, the film was tracked down by retired Air Vice Marshall Tony Mason who interviewed the commander in 1977.

In the interview Harris shoots down the myth that the controversial 'area' bombing was his idea and says it was already government policy.

Inside Out West and West Midlands are broadcast on Monday, 11 February on BBC One at 19:30 GMT and nationwide for seven days thereafter on the iPlayer.

Credits: Interview footage is copyright of RAF and the Ministry of Defence. Other archive is courtesy and copyright of British Pathe.