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Anniversary of Operation Carthage



On 21 March 1945, after repeated entreaties from the Danish resistance, the RAF approved a planned raid targeting the Danish headquarters of the Gestapo in Copenhagen. In preparation for the raid, a detailed model of the city was built as well as a further model of the buildings to be targeted themselves which were studied for weeks.

The raid was to be carried out by de Havilland Mosquito fast-bomber aircraft, and thus it was that on the morning of 21 March, these aircraft took of in three waves of six along with two Mosquitoes that were to film the raid. Unfortunately, despite successfully targeting the Gestapo headquarters, several bombers in the second and third waves of attack mistakenly targeted a school within which was 529 people; 482 children, thirty-four catholic nuns, eight civil teachers and five parents or workers.

In all, eighty-six children and thirteen adults, mostly nuns, were killed. Separately, over fifty Gestapo members were killed in the attack on the headquarters, along with dozens of Danish workers and several prisoners of the Gestapo. Memorials now stand to the children killed as well as the Danish resistance members.

The footage is available to view on youtube: 1945 Shellhuset bombes - YouTube

RAF - Attack on Gestapo Headquarters
Bombningen af Den Franske Skole blev redigeret ud af erindringen | Information
Google Earth Hacks - French School bombing in Copenhagen 1945
Operation Carthage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Despite a detailed write-up of this operation, the RAF website makes no mention at all of the scores of children killed; instead, simply referring to the crashing of a Mosquito as ‘the most unfortunate incident of the raid’. Further, the mission is described by them as 'most successful'.

former wesleyan

Well-known member
Nov 29, 2009
Thank God the Carlsberg Brewery emerged unscathed.

The Bombing of the Shellhus on March 21, 1945.

The plan was to find the city of Koge some 30 km (20 miles) south of Copenhagen, then turn and follow the coast to Avedoere where they would turn north towards the Carlsberg brewery, passing it on the East-side.

Hitch 22

Well-known member
Dec 26, 2011
So do you think there should have been no air raids at all against Nazi occupation forces in Europe during the Second World War because of the civilians deaths?

The raid on Copenhagen was a success. The Gestapo HQ was wrecked, 55 Germans and 47 Danish collaborators were killed, 18 prisoners escaped and Gestapo operations in Denmark were in a shambles.
The RAF lost six planes and 9 crewman while eight Danish prisoners also died.
It's sad the school was hit but mistakes happen.

Even so the mission was worth it.
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So do you think there should have been no air raids at all against Nazi occupation forces in Europe during the Second World War?
to be fair where does the OP suggest that? although given the "colateral damage" youd never know it from the website account. At least it wasnt targeting civilians this time so thats a plus.

Malcolm Redfellow

Well-known member
Sep 29, 2009
What that headline post omits — and it is a serious omission — is how the school came to be bombed.

One of the Mosquitos in the first wave hit a 30 metre tall lamp post, and crashed near the Jeanne d'Arc School. The smoke and flames from this wreck disorientated the second wave, and one or two of the Mosquitos in the second wave bombed the wreck, mistaking it for the Shellhus. The third wave approached from the west, and all but one hit the markers — unfortunately, the markers were effectively now the French School.

For the record, the plan of attack was to locate the town of Koge, about twenty miles south of Copenhagen, follow the coat to Averdoere, turn inland (using the Calsberg Brewery — hah! former wesleyan! — as a marker), line up on the Det Ny Teater on the lakeside, then turn to attack the Shellhus from the southward approach.

The leader of the raid, Basil Embry, was CO of No 2 Bomber Group, participated in the raid (as "Wing Commander Smith"), and wrote it up in Mission Completed [Methuen, 1957]. The Danes obviously held no grudge: they awarded Embry the Order of Dannebrog, Commander 1st Class, and regularly welcomed back the survivors of the mission.
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Well-known member
Nov 7, 2009
I think friend of mine stayed in that building which is now a top class hotel.