The term “bomber’s moon” was used during the Second World War to refer to a bright full moon which illuminates the Earth almost like daylight. The idea was that pilots used the light of a bomber’s moon to zero in on their targets.
People who lived through the Second World War, especially veterans who flew in the war, still use this term to refer to an especially bright moon, although it is unfamiliar to many people born after the war.
In the Second World War, targeting equipment for bombs was far less precise than modern aircraft and weapons. Planes had to be aimed directly at targets and the brighter the lighting conditions, the easier it was for pilots and crews to see potential targets. There were often a large number of bombing raids on the night of a bomber’s moon to take advantage of the favourable conditions.
Mike Harding (born 23 October 1944) is an English singer, songwriter, comedian, author, poet, broadcaster and multi-instrumentalist. He is known as “The Rochdale Cowboy” after one of his hit records. His father, Arthur ‘Curly’ Harding, was a navigator on the bomber flights in 1944 and was killed in a raid a few weeks before Mike was born. He is referred to in the lyrics as “Curly Thompson”.
It says much about Mike’s character that he could write such a moving song about his father, and all those whose died in these raids, and still extend the hand of friendship to dedicate the song to his friends in Germany.
Someone’s picked some quite footage to illustrate this version – apart from one massive error: The planes shown are American, and the US Air Force bombed almost exclusively by night (in much larger Flying Fortresses). The night bombing that devastated every city in Germany was done by RAF Bomber Command. The heavy bomber workhorse of the brave but brutal campaign was the four-engine Lancaster, with Pathfinder raids often carried out by the timber-frame Mosquito.