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BRITAIN AT WAR


Unfortunately, ten Danish civilians outside of the university were killed. Early estimates of enemy causalities were placed between 150-165 German and thirty Danes killed, most of whom were considered to be informers. Miraculously, most of the prisoners being held in the buildings survived.


As the success of the raid became increasingly apparent, over the next


The return flight was uneventful with no interception by enemy fighters. Some of the Mosquito and Mustang pilots took great pleasure in strafing enemy trains. All the attacking and escorting aircraft returned safely with one exception – a Mosquito was forced to divert and land in neutral Sweden due to bomb blast damage.7


three days the congratulatory messages continued to pour in. There was no doubt that despite the death of the ten civilians Danish morale had been lifted tremendously.


The other Mosquitoes


were back at base by 14.00 hours – a total flying time of around five hours.


Air Vice-Marshal Embry recalled that reports from the Danish Resistance on the success of the mission were already waiting for the Mosquito pilots when they landed. It was not known at the time but it subsequently transpired that the Gestapo chief for Jutland had called a conference of his subordinates from all over the province and that they numbered two hundred and fifty.


According to Danish accounts, thirty bombs in total were dropped during the course of the raid. With the destruction of their records, and the deaths of so many valuable informers and experienced staff, the Gestapo in the Jutland Peninsula and surrounding areas were practically neutralized for the remainder of the war.


After the attack, the following account was found on a document taken from a captured SS officer who was at the university at the time of the raid. It was a description of what he called the “Moskitoschreck” – the Mosquito Terror:


“Last Tuesday, a terrible disaster happened in Aarhus which has made a great impression on us. The whole of our HQ was shot up by English [sic] airmen. Twenty- two of our men are dead and many are wounded and missing. Some soldiers were also killed. The head of Security Services SS Obersturmführer Lonechun was also killed. The attack took place about twelve mid- day and was concentrated on the university where our HQ was situated. Our local HQ is very isolated but could be easily hit by deep diving bombers without much damage to the civilian population.”


The attack on the university was not the last of its type in Denmark. Danish Intelligence was already hinting that similar treatment should be given to the Shellhus – the offices of the Shell Oil Company – which was being used as the Gestapo HQ in Copenhagen.8 Similarly, the Husmandsskolen, a former agricultural school building situated a few miles north-west of Odense on the Island of Fyn which was also being used in a


MOSQUITO TERROR


similar role, was attacked on 17 April 1945. Once again the incredible accuracy of the Mosquito crews resulted in the destruction of the building.


To the Gestapo in Denmark, the word Moskitoschreck was a fitting description for what the RAF had unleashed on them during the latter part of the Second World War. ■


ABOVE LEFT:


The British Deputy Prime Minister Clement Attlee inspects the model that was used for the briefing of the RAF pilots prior to the attack on Aarhus University. This image was taken during the opening of the Danish Council exhibition in London on 16 November 1944. (Courtesy of The Museum of Danish Resistance 1940-1945)


FAR LEFT:


A Danish language leaflet produced in the United Kingdom after the attack, describing the success of the strike against the Gestapo headquarters. Examples were subsequently dropped by the RAF during leaflet dropping operations right across Denmark. (Courtesy of The Museum of Danish Resistance 1940-1945)


BELOW:


The ruined dormitory buildings which had housed the Gestapo headquarters and which were hit on 31 October 1944, pictured after the end of the war in Europe. (Courtesy of The Museum of Danish Resistance 1940-1945)


Notes: 1. Squadron Leader Ted Sismore had originally


planned the French Amiens Prison raid and ‘master navigated’ the attacks on the Gestapo headquarters in the Aarhus University, the Shellhus in Copenhagen and the ‘Husmandsskolen’. He retired with the rank of Air Commodore. 2. Air Vice-Marshal Embry flew under the pseudonym of Wing Commander Smith as he was forbidden to fly on such missions but continued to do so. The real Wing Commander Smith could not fly due to medical reasons and Embry borrowed his kit. 3. Squadron Leader F.H. Denton and navigator Flying Officer A.J. Cole RNZAF. 4. Sir Basil Embry, Mission Completed (Methuen & Co Ltd, London, 1957) pp. 273-4. 5. Martin W. Bowman, Mosquito: Menacing the Reich (Pen & Sword, Barnsley, 2008), pp.237-238. 6. Schwitzgebel was also killed in the attack. 7. Pilot Wing Commander W.T. Thomas and navigator Flight Lieutenant P.R. Humphrey-Baker managed to destroy their aircraft by setting fire to it. With Swedish permission, the pair was flown out of Sweden and returned to HQ 140 wing to fly again. 8. The attack took place on 21 March 1945, this time led by Group Captain Bob Bateson and Squadron Leader Ted Sismore.


AUGUST 2010


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