Portal, Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles, 1893-1971

Portal was the British Chief of Air Staff from 1940-45. Formerly Chief of Bomber Command, Portal was a wise and competent Commander of the RAF and his chief contribution to the winning of the war was the influence he wielded both over CHURCHILL and in Anglo-American strategic decision making. He was much liked by the Americans, to whom he was remarkably successful in presenting the British point of view at the major inter-Allied conferences. Portal was a firm advocate of strategic area bombing and this brought him into conflict with the Americans who advocated daylight precision bombing. However diplomacy and the respect with which Portal was regarded led to the formulation of a compromise: the Combined Bomber Offensive determined at the Casablanca Conference.

In early 1944 Portal’s views on area bombing changed and he felt the bombers should play a more auxiliary role in Allied offensives in Europe. This put a tremendous strain on his relations with HARRIS who threatened resignation. Portal had to modify his demands because he realized that this would be a tremendous blow to Bomber Command morale.

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