Death by Moonlight: Bomber Command

Death by Moonlight: Bomber Command

| 1 h 44 min

Also available

This feature-length documentary focuses on the Canadian pilots who served in the air force bomber command in Britain during World War II. From the outset, it was clear to Britain that air combat would be the key factor in the battle against Hitler's Germany. Told they would be targeting factories and military targets, the airmen were actually ordered to drop their payloads on civilians in an attempt to annihilate the enemy. Using interviews, re-enactments, old footage and photographs, Brian McKenna's film depicts the war from the perspective of the pilots.

This film contains scenes of violence. Viewer discretion is advised.

Pedagogical evaluations and study guides are only available to CAMPUS subscribers.


Features designed specifically for teachers. Learn more

Already subscribed? Sign in

Embed this code on your site

Death by Moonlight: Bomber Command, Brian McKenna, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Video player width

by Reset
  • director
    Brian McKenna
  • producer
    Arnie Gelbart
    André Lamy
    Adam Symansky
    Darce Fardy
  • associate producer
    D'Arcy O'Connor
  • script
    Terence McKenna
    Brian McKenna
  • cinematography
    Neville Ottey
    Andrew Binnington
  • sound
    Ian Challis
    Robert Jones
  • editing
    Susan Shanks
  • line producer
    Mary Armstrong
  • sound editing
    Bill Graziadei
    Bernard Bordeleau
  • re-recording
    Adrian Croll
  • narrator
    Terence McKenna
  • cast
    Graham Campbell
    Gilbert Turp
    Nicholas Shields
    Janne Mortil
    Hamish McEwan
    Andrew Gillies
    Mark Burgess
    Patric Creeman
    Duncan Ollerenshaw
    Joel Wyner

  • Orgami

    Someone...a greater force often starts a conflict...birth dictates what flag we serve...flags decide to shoot you...imprison you..or lionize you upon conscription...draft..volunteer.or awol....Like a brawl or a mob hungry to the consumes everything!! I knew many RCAF veterans..volunteers whom were navigators! tail gunners! and One bona fide Pilot who survived his missions where he served and was assigned to go....he became a real estate man...made good money...he was tall..charismatic and charming..good with the ladies and a mans could talk in small circles with other veterans about this time! training..many boys..twenty something in multiple engine craft...cross winds...tail winds....mind full of bric a brac...a hundred plus miles an hour....only so much story was he touched down late....ran out of runway and tore the tail section off the lanc he was training on...they ran over logs at the end of the runway in the west of canada..but by then we was On the Lancs..not washed out...graduated that far up..canada....the crown...the empire needed pilots....He and another vet..another pilot were discussing gunners on their ships........some gunners could not hit anything try as they might...the liked their mates...but...Luck spared them....the navigator went on to have a large family..a business in a small town..a great influence..a decent man whom married a decent woman...sadly war is hell....but we are not to lay aside and watch a terror mob consume what they want...would you negotiate with Hitler? rather then deal with him as one could....they bombed london and russia with no hesitation.and had they more planes and bombs they would have done more......Poland suffered greatly and the east.....this film to me was revealing....and probably the main reason the vets kept quiet about this.....what if you were a pilot...would you come home talking of hitler was stopped....all a terrible waste of course......if he stayed small....a race would have been even more decimated....what if he took London...England...Ireland..Scotland!! could have just as easily moved West... a fantastic movie and great that NFB makes such movies!! thank you NFB!

    Orgami, 1 Aug 2015
  • GerhardGehrmann

    I don't understand how this movie slanders Canadians fighting in the war. It paints those in charge as acting in ways that lack honour. The crime is on those who order evil, and hide the true intentions of their actions. The aircrew had no real way of know what and who they were bombing. The admirals, generals, air marshals, and prime ministers certainly did.

    GerhardGehrmann, 1 Apr 2014
  • srcushing

    This film is a horrible travesty. It works hard to make these men look like baby killers and murderers. My Grandfather (who I knew for 42 years and was able to tell me his stories) was a tail gunner in a Halilfax and survived over 40 missions most over Germany. These men were doing a job. They were doing a job that they felt they had to do for a cause that was right. Yes many German civilians died. But before bomber command even did its first serious raid on Germany, the Germans had firebombed, Gurnicia Spain, Warsaw Poland, Rotterdam Netherlands (after the Dutch had surrendered) and Coventry UK. Woman and children died in those cities as well but the documentry does not focus on this. A German civilian was quoted after the Dresden bombing to say "we had this coming to us" You never hear the Germans disparage bomber command the way the allies do. They understood. The Nazis were a democratically elected government, the German people had a choice and they chose the way of war. The men of bomber command were there to right the wrongs regardless of the cost. In the end Germany lost 6 million people, the Soviets lost 22 million mostly civilians killed by German soldiers. I agree with Lanky the McKennas are a disgrace to film making. Each one of the men and women should be hounered for their role in winning the war, not with this horrible piece of crap.

    srcushing, 29 Dec 2013
  • threadbear

    I don’t think this film dishonours our Canadian veterans, I think it shows how war is simply outrageous and outrageously horrible to be caught up in. A great uncle I never met was a Lancaster navigator. His aircraft was flacked over Germany, and his pilot fought courageously to get that craft back to base, but they crashed into the English Channel. All the crew are buried in Holland. My other great uncle armed the Lancasters. According to my grandmother, he was never the same after the war because he knew what he was doing. He used to talk about all his friends who ‘got the chop.’ They were all heroes to me in absentia. If I was able to meet Mr. Harvey and Mr. Brown I would give them great big hugs for having the courage to face the people who survived their bombs, for doing another very tough job for us, and for representing themselves and Canadians to them in person as honourable, compassionate people. Long after the war, they, once again, proved themselves to be among our greatest heroes. God bless them all.

    threadbear, 30 Aug 2012
  • Wow456

    One thing I like about this documentary it shows a side of Canadian Military History that is rarely shown to the public . I would like to give thanks to the National Film Broad having this available to the public .

    Wow456, 27 Jun 2011
  • antjay

    I almost wish i were a religious man , at least then i could have some confidence that Hitler, Himler , Harris and Le May were sharing the hottest corner in hell .The young WRAF said it best "why do we not talk more about the saddness of war".

    antjay, 7 Jan 2011
  • lanky

    this film is a typical product from those who never served in the armed forces of their country. It is full of non sequitors an just deliberate distortions. The McKennas likely were using drugs as they admittedly did a few years later as they pursued 2012 end of the world. Brian being now dead the best of British luck to Dennis and may he experience the same pain he brought to so many honourable RCAF veterans

    lanky, 25 Apr 2010

The NFB is committed to respecting your privacy

We use cookies to ensure that our site works efficiently, as well as for advertising purposes. If you do not wish to have your information used in this way, you can modify your browser settings before continuing your visit.

Learn more