In what was an all-out assault against the Luftwaffe ahead of D-Day, Big Week was launched in February 1944 by the USAAF’s 8th Air Force with RAF Bomber Command support. James Holland explains the background and sets the scene to what was then the biggest aerial battle of the war.

The crew of a Halifax walk toward their bomber for the night. (KEN COTHLIFF)

RAF Leeming was a bleak place to be in the autumn of 1943. Lying on a long stretch of flat land sandwiched between the high hills of the Yorkshire Dales to the west and the Yorkshire Moors to the east, it was a place where icy northerly winds swept down and where low cloud seemed to stay rooted.

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