The Anonymous Widower

The 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 store the Dutch population records.

Whilst in Holland, I had some time to myself in The Hague so I tried to find out where it was.  Using Google from my laptop, I found this Dutch article in Wikipedia.  The reason I’d not been able to find this before was that the article is only in Dutch and Kleizkamp is spelt differently in that language, as Kleykamp. There does not appear to be any trace left of the gallery opposite the Peace Palace, which is one of The Hague’s most famous buildings.

The Peace Palace, The Hague

The Peace Palace, The Hague

The article says that the gallery was a white house opposite the palace.

All that is there now is an anonymous office block.

NICB Bank, The Hague

NICB Bank, The Hague

If you translate the Dutch articles, there was a certain amount of controversy about the raid.  Some said it should be done earlier and around sixty, mainly women, died when the building was bombed.  But it would appear that the RAF didn’t have the capability to do the raid before and that it was preferred to do the raid on a working day, when the filing cabinets were open.

October 16, 2009 Posted by | World | , , | 3 Comments

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