Maastricht is the capital and largest city of the province of Limburg. in the Southeast of the Netherlands. On August 18, the Unites States Army Airforce, attempted to bomb a railway bridge, but it went horribly wrong.
Friday, August 18, 1944 was a warm sunny day that started nicely but ended in a drama when at the beginning of the evening a group of American bombers attacked the railway bridge over the Maas. (Meuse)
The aim was to make the retreat of the German troops more difficult, because the Allies had the wind at their back in France and were doing everything they could to make the escape of the Germans more difficult and to prevent them from bringing in supplies. The fact that this required bombing in populated areas, with a real chance of civilian casualties, was an acceptable risk.
But instead of hitting the bridges, the bombs wreaked havoc on neighboring residential areas. 26 American B-17s dropped about 160 thousand pounds on the railway bridge, but it almost entirely unscathed. It was different in the surrounding neighborhoods where the population paid a heavy toll: 129 deaths, countless seriously injured and hundreds of houses on both banks of the Maas were wiped off the map.
Due to the anti-aircraft fire near the city, most bombers continued to fly at high altitudes. It was virtual impossible to accurately pinpoint the of a precision attack on the bridge,therfore many of the 156 bombs ended up in the wide perimeter of the bridge. Only one direct hit on the target was counted.
Many residents of Maastricht were concerned about the approaching violence of war. Some had decided to take shelter in the caves of the Sint-Pietersberg for the time being.
Trees Dubois was aged 12 when the bombing happened.
In an interview she gave for a local newspaper she recalled the following.
“I was very scared,my father sent me to the bomb shelter. I went out with the neighbor. She returned halfway through to get something. She didn’t survive.”