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Thread: A piece of WWII history

  1. #1
    Grand Master thieuster's Avatar
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    A piece of WWII history

    Every year, around this time of the year, I write something about WWII in my country and role of the Allied forces. A little earlier than normal, but it's something that happened 80 yrs ago.

    On April 11th, 1944, the 6 RAF Mosquitos bombed the Dutch National Register of Population in The Hague.

    All Dutch citizens had to wear a ID card on them for the Nazis to check who they were. It made resistance difficult because these men and women needed fake IDs to keep them out of the hands of the Gestapo. Before the war, there was a big 'artisan industry' in the Netherlands for a lot of countries all over the world: designing and printing stamps, paper money etc. So there was a lot of 'in-house know how' in the country. But the Allied figured that messing up the system by bombing the Register would make it even harder for the Nazis to check the papers.

    A James Bond avant la lettre from the SOE Section D was dropped into the country by parachute: Pierre Louis d'Aulnis de Bourouill, a glasses-wearing artillery captain with a French name but Dutch family landed a year earlier to assess the possible raid. He was never caught by the Germans (and died peacefully in 2012). He figured out that the best-possible time to raid the building was... during the daylight. Because during the day, the safes with the list and data had their doors open! The Allied command was afraid of the risks and all-Dutch flying crews manned the Mosquitos. Men who'd found refuge in the UK, Can and the US when the war started. It took them a few months to train the whole situation. A few pilots were from the The Hague area and knew the local situation first-hand.

    A long story short: the RAF and the Dutch Government in exile (in London) figured out a plan how to raid the building The Hague. A white building loosely related to the Royal Family's town houses. The building was located only a few hundred meters from the shoreline where the Germans had their Atlantic Wall; a few weeks(!) before the invasion. It was fully operational. 6 Mosquitos did the raid. On April 11, they crossed the North Sea and came above shore just north of Antwerp. Above the River Scheld. A weak spot in the German air defense: they managed to reach the shore unseen.

    From there, they started a heart-pounding (I guess...) run East. Not to the North. They kept on flying for about 80kms over land, at 10, 15m height avoiding towns. What a sight that must have been: 6 Mosquitos, full power, over the roof tops of farms, houses. After about 80kms, the turned NW for another 60, 70km and then, with The Hague on their left, they made the last turn to the West, flying over the Lowlands. The really flat part of the country. Flying as low as possible. So, the Allied attack didn't come from the West but from the East. The first two Mosquitos had bombs to 'open' the roof, the 3rd and 4th came with fosfor & oil bombs. The 5th and 6th also had those fosfor bombs with delay fuses to keep the fire brigade at a distance and the pilots of those planes had to take pics... The last plane was unable to drop its bombs; the mechanism jammed and when it worked again, the pilot turned his plane and bombed the Nazi Grüne Polizei HQ nearby (Obviously he'd paid attention during the briefing). From there it was straight west. Crossing the Atlantic Wall appeared to be easy: the German troops were not prepared for planes coming from the East, a few meters above the ground, on full speed. They had no time to react.

    All 6 planes returned to base safely and unharmed. Theheu raid was succesful: the Germans' system had collapsed. The very sad side to it was that the Resistance had managed to get forgers into the building where they had access to the real papers and documents where they could forge them 'at the source' so to speak. Quite a few were killed during the raid.


  2. #2
    Grand Master Neil.C's Avatar
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    I remember that tale from My Victor comic of the '60's as a lad.

    The Mosquito really was a wonderful 'plane.

    Cheers,
    Neil.

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    Master earlofsodbury's Avatar
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    Great story, thanks for sharing - somehow it's one that had passed me by.

    Had a chance to get up-close with a taxi-able Mosquito last summer. Sadly, being an elderly wooden 'bitsa', HJ711 isn't airworthy and cannot be made so, so can't be flown, but is still both beautiful and impressive when she's run at takeoff speed at East Kirkby here in Lincolnshire.




  4. #4
    It’s been mentioned before, there are three Mosquitoes in the de Havilland museum South Mimms way.

    I understand that they were very fast, pretty accurate, had a decent bomb load and crew survivability compared to the four engined heavies.

    There’s a Danish film on Netflix called The Shadow in My Eye, also known as The Bombardment about a low level Mosquito raid on Copenhagen. A dark film based on true events with a tragic outcome.


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    Quote Originally Posted by earlofsodbury View Post
    Great story, thanks for sharing - somehow it's one that had passed me by.

    Had a chance to get up-close with a taxi-able Mosquito last summer. Sadly, being an elderly wooden 'bitsa', HJ711 isn't airworthy and cannot be made so, so can't be flown, but is still both beautiful and impressive when she's run at takeoff speed at East Kirkby here in Lincolnshire.
    I always wondered what would happen if whomever was taxiing just "forgot" and pushed the levers that little bit further. Presumably it would fly very happily, a quick loop and no one would have seen ;)
    Presumably right up to the point where it folds in half and crashes but there must be as many forces applied in accelerating to takeoff speed and being in contact with the ground as there are in the air.
    Anyway just hypothetical.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidL View Post
    I always wondered what would happen if whomever was taxiing just "forgot" and pushed the levers that little bit further. Presumably it would fly very happily, a quick loop and no one would have seen ;)
    Presumably right up to the point where it folds in half and crashes but there must be as many forces applied in accelerating to takeoff speed and being in contact with the ground as there are in the air.
    Anyway just hypothetical.
    Do you remember when the Handley-Page Victor ‘accidentally’ took off?

    https://youtu.be/TGjPu6DPzWU?si=F892KgPSIjwG14p4

    Nothing much happened, apart from a lot of paperwork I expect!

    The four forces of flight are Weight, Lift, Thrust and Drag, only Weight really applies to a taxiing aircraft, the other 3 will tax it a lot more once airborn, and much more likely to cause an issue.

    I’ve always hoped that the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight would always acquire a Mosquito, a fabulous aircraft that I’d love to see fly again.

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    Grand Master Sinnlover's Avatar
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    There are flyable examples of the mossie in both the US and NZ.
    Sadly the last airworthy version in the UK ‘bought the farm’ taking the crew with it.
    The example in the US was stored in Florida which didn’t help its condition for a while, for the same reason it was not sent to the Far East in large numbers during the war. The humid conditions causes the ply to split.

    https://youtu.be/HXjDRLTp44U?si=wDwJGdb7lQUtmeMY

    https://youtu.be/mbWyCjI1Bas?si=DL3TnSWHPPoHnEdq

    A couple of videos of low level raids on the Netherlands. Balls of steel, looking up at buildings at some points.

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    Grand Master thieuster's Avatar
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    The first video contains a detail (3:55'): "... and there's the Philips factory ahead!" That's worth extra attention. In short: Philips worked for the Nazis and the Allied forces at the same time. How?

    Philips was and is a large electronics multinational. Before the war, light bulbs and household appliances were their main source of income. But they had a very distinct science lab where full-time inventors worked on magic things like TVs, but also sophisticated -for that time- artillery guidance systems). And it was already a multinational before the second world war. We had colonies (West and East Indies) and Philips had a big foot on the ground in the US. The Philips family was originally from Germany (Karl Marx and Gerard Philips, the founder, were cousins btw).

    The Philips family realized that the war was inevitable and a large part of the family went to the States. A part of the family (most men) stayed behind in Eindhoven. With the move to the States, a lot of the 'secrets' went with them. The Germans occupied the factory and demanded that the production would be 100% for the German war machine. (And that resulted into bombing like the video shows!).

    Philips had chopped up the company in holdings and trusts. A few in the Netherlands and confiscated by the Germans - which was to be expected. But the biggest parts of the company was in trusts in the UK, Can and the US. Where the Germans couldn't get their hands on.

    However, there's more... The stay-behind Philips family members pressed the Germans for cheap labour. From the concentration camp Vught, near the factory in Eindhoven. Philips had nearly 500 Jewish employees from the camp. Nearly all survived the war. Dutch historians were always on two 'ideas': did Philips collaborate with the enemy or did they help the Jewish population and prevented them from getting murdered. In the end, the verdict goes to the positive side.

    At the same time, over in the US, Philips produced for the Allied forces. Basically, every rear light on any army Jeep and Dodge was made by Philips USA.

  9. #9
    Grand Master Neil.C's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinnlover View Post
    There are flyable examples of the mossie in both the US and NZ.
    Sadly the last airworthy version in the UK ‘bought the farm’ taking the crew with it.
    The example in the US was stored in Florida which didn’t help its condition for a while, for the same reason it was not sent to the Far East in large numbers during the war. The humid conditions causes the ply to split.

    https://youtu.be/HXjDRLTp44U?si=wDwJGdb7lQUtmeMY

    https://youtu.be/mbWyCjI1Bas?si=DL3TnSWHPPoHnEdq

    A couple of videos of low level raids on the Netherlands. Balls of steel, looking up at buildings at some points.
    I think the plywood is the reason that more have not survived unfortunately.

    I still have my RAF Biggin Hill programme from the '60's which included a flight of three mosquitoes doing a display.
    Cheers,
    Neil.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil.C View Post
    I think the plywood is the reason that more have not survived unfortunately.

    I still have my RAF Biggin Hill programme from the '60's which included a flight of three mosquitoes doing a display.
    I read years go that when they filmed mosquito squadron had to drain water out of the wings as they leaked so much.

    Avspecs in NZ are the masters at getting them back into the air and the next is rumoured to be UK bound, probably on the US register as Avspecs aren’t CAA accredited.


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    Master earlofsodbury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidL View Post
    I always wondered what would happen if whomever was taxiing just "forgot" and pushed the levers that little bit further. Presumably it would fly very happily, a quick loop and no one would have seen ;)
    Presumably right up to the point where it folds in half and crashes but there must be as many forces applied in accelerating to takeoff speed and being in contact with the ground as there are in the air.
    Anyway just hypothetical.

    It would take a brave man - she's assembled from a properly diverse range of odds and sods, including parts recovered from crash sites.

    It should also be noted that the guy who 'drives' the taxi is also a serving RAF pilot, so he has a LOT to lose if he risked it!

  12. #12
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    Thank you for the history lesson. I always enjoy hearing about the smaller operations that made up the bigger picture of WWII.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sinnlover View Post

    A couple of videos of low level raids on the Netherlands. Balls of steel, looking up at buildings at some points.
    The Netherlands being relatively flat was quite handy for operations such as these.

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