The Anonymous Widower

The Mosquito

The Times today has the obituary of John Smith-Carington, who was a Mosquito pilot in the Second World War.

I think that unusually, The Times may have the account in the obituary about the raid on The Hague slightly wrong, as they mention releasing prisoners.  Wikipedia, which again is not sometimes the best of sources says.

On 11 April 1944, after a request by Dutch resistance workers, six Mosquito FB VIs of No. 613 (City of Manchester) Squadron made a pinpoint daylight attack at rooftop height on the Kunstzaal Kleizkamp Art Gallery in The Hague, Netherlands, which was being used by the Gestapo to store the Dutch Central Population Registry. The first two aircraft dropped high explosive bombs, to “open up” the building, their bombs going in through the doors and windows. The other crews then dropped incendiary bombs, and the records were destroyed. Only persons in the building were killed – nearby civilians in a bread queue were unharmed.

This type of raid though was typical of the Mosquito.

One of my friends learned to fly on them just after the war and he said that getting them into the air was sometimes rather dangerous, but once they were at a safe height, they were a superb aeroplane. In the latter part of the war, they could strike with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel.

The Mosquito was summed up by Goring.

The British, who can afford aluminium better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building, and they give it a speed which they have now increased yet again. What do you make of that?

But the real tragedy of the Mosquito is that we never built enough of them.  They were fast and could outrun every German fighter for most of the war and because of this, they could actually bomb Germany twice in one day.  They also delivered over half the weight of bombs as a Liberator or Flying Fortess for just a crew of two, with a much higher safe return rate.  Remember too, that the Allied Air Forces lost hundreds of thousands of aircrew bombing Europe with a rather dubious accuracy and a somewhat vengeful strategy.

Mosquitos could and should have very accurately bombed the places that really hurt the Nazis, day in and day out.  But the powers that be, felt that you don’t go to war in an unarmed wooden bomber.

They were wrong!

At least it was realised after the way.  Wikipedia again.

Despite an initially high loss rate, the Mosquito ended the war with the lowest losses of any aircraft in RAF Bomber Command service. Post war, the RAF found that when finally applied to bombing, in terms of useful damage done, the Mosquito had proved 4.95 times cheaper than the Lancaster; and they never specified a defensive gun on a bomber thereafter.

I have been to the de Havilland Museum just off the M25, where the prototype sits in splendour where it was built.

Go and see one of the finest aircraft ever built!

July 30, 2009 - Posted by | News | , , ,

17 Comments »

  1. […] Kunstzaal Kleizkamp Raid In the post on the Mosquito, I mentioned the raid on the Kunstzaal Kleizkamp Art Gallery in the Hague, which was being used to […]

    Pingback by The Kunstzaal Kleizkamp Raid « The Anonymous Widower | October 16, 2009 | Reply

  2. A recent book on the history of the Koninklijke Kunstzaal Kleykamp (note: the name Kleykamp has never been spelled with a “Z” – that must have been someone’s typo long ago)has been published: “Kleykamp: De geschiedenis van een kunsthandel ca. 1900-1968,” by Waanders Press, 2008 (in Dutch). It has a most informative chapter about the bombing of the gallery by Dutch historian Frits Boersma.

    Comment by Marie Louise Kane-Kleykamp | December 10, 2010 | Reply

    • I only today discovered this site and topic. I work with Nederlandsch Octrooibureau, a private patent firm in The Hague. In April ’44 the firm was located at Laan Copes van Cattenburch 24, directly behind the Kleykamp building. It was hit and totally destroyed and 4 employees were killed. As the keeper of the historic archives of the firm, I had read a few notes and sway some pictures, but never really examined what happened and why. Until earlier this year, when I started examining the historic archives of the city of The Hague. By now I have a lot of information, but still a few gaps.

      I read of the 2 people of the resistance working in Kleykamp and both killed in the raid. One of them Jacob (Jaap) van der Kamp and the other unknown to me until I discovered last week a story of Adriaan van Boven in the book Ik Neem het niet! (I don’t take it any longer) about his brother Jaap, the second undercover agent in Kleykamp. But I could not find the name in the lists of victims. Until i read Michael van der Kamp’s comments above. i still have not found Wolter on the list either. But perhaps he worked under a fake name. If that’s Van der Kamp, then i’m back to square one.

      And is the ‘Van der Kamp’ a coincidence or is there a relation with you Michael?

      Comment by Marc Krisman | December 6, 2016 | Reply

  3. Sorry about the spelling, but I’m English and don’t speak Dutch, although I do know Den Haag well.

    Comment by AnonW | December 10, 2010 | Reply

  4. My best friend is the son of two Dutch people who survived the war. His Father was in the Dutch Navy and his Mother lived in the Hague. His Father is now a retired artist and painter, Wim van Velzen and his son gave me a present of a fabulous painting of this raid. One of the “dots” in the painting is a representation of his Mother standing outside the palace or a church, she remembers the raid well! Great painting.

    Comment by Robert Moloney | February 10, 2012 | Reply

  5. Who knows what would have happened in the war, if we’d built more Mosquitos and used them to bomb Germany.

    Comment by AnonW | February 11, 2012 | Reply

  6. My grandfather’s younger brother died in that raid. His name was Jaap van der Kamp. He was 21. He and my grandfather were working for the Dutch resistance, and it was Jaap who drew up scale drawings and put together the report requesting the destruction of the Kleykamp, which was sent to the English. I don’t speak Dutch, so unfortunately I can’t read the book that Marie mentions, but I would love to find any English materials relating to the raid. The most detailed I have found is this record:

    http://bbs.hitechcreations.com/smf/index.php?topic=5780.0

    Comment by Michael van der Kamp | February 25, 2014 | Reply

    • I don’t know where you live, but you should go to the Mosquito museum on the M25 and the RAF Museum at Hendon. They’d be very interested in your tale.

      Comment by AnonW | February 25, 2014 | Reply

    • Hello Michael,
      I would be most interested to learn more about your great-uncle’s role in the Kleykamp gallery’s dstruction during the War. Is there an account of it written up anywhere?

      Comment by Marie Louise Kane-Kleykamp | October 31, 2014 | Reply

      • Hi Marie,

        The most detailed account I have been able to find online is the one I linked to, which itself appears to be an excerpt from the book “De Haviland Mosquito” by Martin W. Bowman.

        A more detailed account would probably be found in my grandfather Wolter’s book: “Jan Jansen in Bezet Gebied” which he wrote under the pseudonym “Adriaan van Boven”. It’s in Dutch, so again I haven’t been able to read it, and copies are very hard to come by. I did a quick Google Books search though, and it looks like it has been scanned as part of their Library program, though I’m unsure of how to obtain the full text.

        Comment by Michael van der Kamp | November 1, 2014

  7. Hi Michael, With apologies for not having checked back to this site before now! I will look for your grandfather’s book. When was it published? I would recommend you get the book I mentioned above. There are many wonderful (is that the right word?!) photos in it. My father was a young architecture student during the war, and he secretly forwarded the building’s plans to the Resistance.

    Comment by Marie Louise Kane-Kleykamp | March 20, 2015 | Reply

  8. Can I still comment on this topic?

    Comment by Marc Krisman | December 6, 2016 | Reply

  9. I only today discovered this site and topic. I work with Nederlandsch Octrooibureau, a private patent firm in The Hague. In April ’44 the firm was located at Laan Copes van Cattenburch 24, directly behind the Kleykamp building. It was hit and totally destroyed and 4 employees were killed. Apparently when the fifth bomber dropped his bombs, the Kleykamp building had been totally destroyed and the bombs just went into the next object: the building at Laan Copes No. 24.

    As the keeper of the historic archives of the firm, I had read a few notes and saw some pictures, but never really examined what happened and why. Until earlier this year, when I started examining the historic archives of the city of The Hague. By now I have a lot of information, mostly obtained from the city archives, but there are still a few gaps.

    I read of the 2 people of the resistance working in Kleykamp and both killed in the raid. One of them Jacob (Jaap) van der Kamp and the other unknown to me until I discovered last week a story of Adriaan van Boven in the book ‘Ik neem het niet!’ (I don’t take it any longer) about his brother Jaap, the second undercover agent in Kleykamp. But I could not find the name in the lists of victims. Until i read Michael van der Kamp’s comments above. I still have not found Wolter on the list either. But perhaps he worked under a fake name. If that name is ‘Van der Kamp’, then i’m back to square one.

    And is the ‘Van der Kamp’ a coincidence or is there a relation with you Michael?

    One of the victims was a 17 years old draughtsman, only working for the office for about 6 months at a salary of 80 Guilders a month. I am trying to locate relatives, in order to get a picture and give him a face again.

    Moving pictures of the fire exist on YouTube and I recognize the office, although there is no mention of it. Obviously the many more victims of Kleykamp at the Scheveningseweg 17 were getting all the attention. In the documentary ‘Andere Tijden’ which aired on Dutch TV on 23 October 2008, there is an interview with a historian of the Imperial War Museum in London. He shows 2 models of the area in The Hague, made for the pilots. I have traced those modesl, which are now at the Duxford site and will visit to photograph them, since the building of our office is on there as well.

    Any ideas where to look for more info? I have the pilots names, with of course a particular interest in Rob Cohen, the Dutch student from Delft.

    Comment by Marc Krisman | December 6, 2016 | Reply

    • There is a Mosquito Museum just North of London on the M25, where the immaculate prototype is displayed.

      There is another story about the Mosquito, that after they had bombed Germany, on the way back they used to weave at high speed through the buildings in major Dutch cities, like the Hague. Apparently, the Germans just wasted ammunition and the Dutch threw their hats in the air.

      One of my late friends, who learned to fly in the aircraft after the War, believed as many did, that the plane was a much more effective bomber than the four-engined heavy bombers, as it could precisely target infrastructure. It also carried a bomb-load not far short of a B17, but it only had a crew of 2.

      The Yanks didn’t like the idea of going to war in a bomber made of plywood and balsa, that was glued together.

      Comment by AnonW | December 7, 2016 | Reply

  10. AntonW: any idea where I may find some written notes on the Mosquitos flying back from raids on Germany?

    Comment by Marc Krisman | December 7, 2016 | Reply

    • I read about it in a book on the official history. A book I lent to someone, and didn’t get back. I also had confirmation from a Dutch engineer, I worked with at Ballast Needam in the 1970s. His father remembered being in possibly Den Haag and seeing Mosquitos going through at tree top height at over 200 kph. It must have been some sight. The Mosquito Museum or the Imperial War Museum in London is the best source.

      Comment by AnonW | December 8, 2016 | Reply

      • Thanks AnonW; I’ll be sure to check it out.

        Comment by Marc | December 8, 2016


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