74 years ago on April 1, 1944 the United States air force accidentally bombed the Swiss city of Schaffhausen, mistaking it for a German target. Some 400 incendiary and demolition bombs were dropped, killing 40 people and destroying large parts of the city.
About 15 B24 planes unleashed their bombs, mistaking the city for the target of Ludwigshafen am Rhein near Mannheim, about 235 km north of Schaffhausen.
Bad weather had broken up the American formation over France and winds that nearly doubled the groundspeed of the bombers confused the navigators. The radar systems also failed to function. As Schaffhausen is on the north side of the River Rhine, it was apparently assumed to be the German city.
Switzerland was neutral during the Second World War but the fear of being bombed was acute. Up until then, air raid warnings had been sounded many times in Schaffhausen with no follow up attacks, so people felt relatively safe. When the alarm went off on April 1, many did not take it seriously and failed to take cover.
US President Franklin Roosevelt sent a personal letter of apology to the mayor of Schaffhausen and by October 1944, $4 million had been paid in restitution.
After the bombing, the Swiss began to paint their roofs with the white cross of the Swiss flag.
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Operation OYSTER, the daylight attack on the Philips radio and valve works at Emmasingel, Eindhoven, Holland, by No. 2 Group. Low-level oblique photograph showing incendiary bombs dropped by Lockheed Venturas bursting on the roof of the Emmasingel lamp and valve factory. C 3268 Part of AIR MINISTRY SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION No. 21 Squadron RAF
For 10 years I worked for Philips and was not aware of this bit of the company’s history, although I worked in a different plant in another city, the links to Eindhoven were substantial because HQ was located there.
On this day 74 years ago the Philips Radio Works in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands was bombed by the RAF.It was a daring low-level attack which turned out to be a notable success for the allies as it cost the Germans an estimated six months loss of production.
On 6th December 1942 the RAF mounted Operation Oyster, a daylight low level bombing raid on the Philips electronic company in Eindhoven, Holland. It was hoped that this approach would minimise casualties amongst Dutch civilians. It also provided the opportunity to build a well photographed publicity exercise around the whole raid. The Mosquito was developing quite a reputation for this low level work, although only a small proportion of the aircraft on the raid were of this type.
Squadroner Leader Charles Patterson was one of the more experienced pilots taking part, his observers seat was occupied by Flying Officer Jimmy Hill from RAF Film Unit – the footage from this raid can be seen be seen in the video below:
93 aircraft took part in the raid;
47 (PV-1) Venturas Mk. Is of RAF No. 21, RAAF No. 464 and RNZAF No. 487 Squadrons.
36 (A-20) Boston IIIs of Nos. 88, 107, and 226 Squadrons
10 Mosquito Mk. IVs of No.105 and No.139 Squadrons;
83 aircraft dropped bombs and one Mosquito was a photographic aircraft.
Eindhoven is beyond the range of fighter escort so the raid was flown at low level and in clear weather conditions.
Operation OYSTER, the daylight attack on the Philips radio and valve works at Eindhoven, Holland, by No. 2 Group. Ground crews prepare De Havilland Mosquito B Mark IV, DK336, of No. 105 Squadron RAF for the raid at Marham, Norfolk. C 3298 Part of AIR MINISTRY SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION RAFFPU
Operation OYSTER, the daylight attack on the Philips radio and valve works at Eindhoven, Holland, by No. 2 Group. Wing Commander H I Edwards VC (left), leader of the De Havilland Mosquito B Mark IVs of Nos. 105 and 139 Squadrons RAF on the raid, and his navigator approach their aircraft before taking off from Marham, Norfolk. C 3304 Part of AIR MINISTRY SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION RAFFPU
Mosquito B Mark IV Series 2, DK338, in flight after completion. DK338 served with No. 105 Squadron RAF as ‘GB-O’, and took part in the successful low-level raid on the Phillips radio factory at Eindhoven, Holland, (Operation OYSTER) on 6 December 1942, led by the Squadron Commander, Wing Commander H.I.Edwards VC. CH 7781 Part of AIR MINISTRY SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION De Havilland photographer for Ministry of Aircraft Production
Bombing had to be very accurate to only cause damage to factories in the complex as the Factories were in the middle of the town.
Normally they were also full of Dutch workers under Nazi guard so the raid was carried out on a Sunday to try and reduce civilian casualties.
Unfortunately some bombs fell in nearby streets killing 148 Dutch people and 7 German soldiers.
Full production at the factory was not reached again until six months after the raid..
Operation OYSTER, the daylight attack on the Philips radio and valve works at Eindhoven, Holland, by No. 2 Group. Douglas Bostons fly over the burning Emmasingel lamp and valve factory at the height of the raid. The works were so severely hit that full production was not resumed for six months. C 5755 Part of AIR MINISTRY SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION No. 2 Group RAF
Operation OYSTER, the daylight attack on the Philips radio and valve works at Eindhoven, Holland, by No. 2 Group. Low-level photographic-reconnaissance aerial taken over the Stryp Group main plant 30 minutes after the attack, showing extensive damage to the radio assembly shop and fires still burning at several points. Full production of electrical material at the factory was not reached again until 6 months after the raid. The bombers suffered a loss rate of 15 per cent for the whole force. C 3281 Part of AIR MINISTRY SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION No. 139 Squadron RAF