By the end of 1944 the Danish resistance-movement in Copenhagen was in danger of being wiped out by the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo). Many of their leaders were arrested and a lot of material was filed in the Gestapo archives in the Shell house which was located in Copenhagen. Leading members of the resistance-movement requested an attack by air on the Shell House via SOE in London.
Finally on 21 March 1945, 20 Mosquitoes from 2nd TAF escorted by 28 Mustang Mk. IIIs from the 11th Group took off from RAF Fersfield in Norfolk, England. 18 of the Mosquito bombers were F.B. Mk. VIs and 2 were Mosquito B. Mk. IVs from the Photo Production Unit (PRU).
The Mustang Mk. IIIs from F/Lt. David Drews No. 64 and Maj. Austeens No 126 Squadron (Austen from Norway, KIA May 1945) had 3 Mustangs abort the mission when F/Lt. Sharpe and F/Lt. Holmes both from No. 126 Sqn and Sgt. Wyting from No. 64 Sqn was hit by Seagulls.
The Mosquito force attacked in 3 waves: 1st wave with 7 Mosquitoes (one PRU) the 2nd wave with 6 Mosquitoes and finally the 3rd wave with 7 Mosquitoes (one PRU). The primary objective for the Mustangs was to attack Flak positions in central Copenhagen.
When the 1st wave passed the Enghave Station, the Mosquito SZ 977, with Pilot W/Cdr. Peter A Kleboe and Navigator F/O K Hall, hits a 30 met-re lamp post and then the wingtip of the Mosquito hits a roof at No 106 apartment on Sonder Boulevard, the 2 bombs rips off (225kg) explodes and 12 people are killed. The Mosquito ”T for Tommy” crashes seconds later in a garage near the French Jeanne d`Arc school at Frederiksbergs Alle. The front part with the cockpit with the two crew members are trown down on Dr. Priemesvej and they are badly burnt. Pilot W/C Peter A. Kleboe and Navigator F/O Reginald J.W. Hall were laid to rest in København Bispebjerg Cemetery on 28 March 1945.
The rest of the wave with Bateson, Carlisle, Air Vice-Marshal Basil Embry, Henderson, Hetherington and Moore found and bombed the Gestapo Headquarters successfully. 6 bombs exploded in the Western wing and of the 9 prisoners in this part of the building, 6 were killed instantly and 1 more died when jumping from the 5th floor to the ground.
The 2nd wave got confused by the smoke and flames from Kleboes crashed Mosquito and attempted to bomb the crash site but W/Cdr. Iredale realized the mistake before he bombed and turned towards the Shell house but 2 of the Mosquitoes in the 2nd wave dropped their bombs on the French school and only F/Lt. Smith were later able to bomb the Shell House.
W/Cdr. Dentons 3rd wave approached Copenhagen from the West. All but 1 of the Mosquitoes dropped their bombs by mistake on the French Jeanne d`Arc Catholic School killing 86 children and 16 adults out of 482 children and adults, while 67 children and 35 adults were wounded. Mounted on the wall of the Shell house of today is a bronze-cast of a propeller from one of the crashed Mosquitoes. A plaque is placed below the propeller with the names of the 9 crews members who were killed in the attack.
Most of the Mosquito Mk. VIs taking part in the attack returned safely but F/Lt. Pattison and F/Sgt. Pygram Mosquito NT 123 was hit by Flak over Copenhagen harbour and announced over the radio that they would try to reach Sweden, but with the left engine on fire they had to ditch East south-east of Hven, about two kilometers of Hakens lighthouse not far from Sweden. The crew was seen to crawl on top of the floating aircraft by locals at Hven but because they did not have any boats that could go out in the stormy weather they contacted the Island Police and he therefore called Landskrona in Sweden for help, but the help arrived to late and the two flayers had drowned and were both KIA. The wreckage has been located after the war, but there was no trace of Pilot F/Lt David V. Pattison and F/Sgt Frank Pygram.
F/O ”Shorty” Dawson and F/O Murrays Mosquito SZ 999 was hit by Flak on the return trip at low altitude and crashed into the Nyrup Bay about 13 kilometers north of Nykøbing Sjælland both were KIA. Afterwards the wreckage was found washed ashore in Nyrup Bay, but there was not trace of Dawson or Murray.
The formation then turned to the West and precisely at that moment ”Spike” Palmers Mosquito RS 609 was hit and F/O Palmer and Fenrik Becker (from Norway) crashes into the sea both were KIA. A body was recovered east of Samsø and were laid to rest in Tranebjerg cemetery on Samsø on 26 March 1945 as an unknown airman. In the year 2000 it was proved by Danish researchers that the person buried was Becker.
F/Lt. David Drew, Mustang Mk. III, HK 460 from No. 64 Squadron, was KIA during the raid (Flak from the light Cruiser Nurnberg) and he crashed in flames at Falledsparken. Drew was buried in København Bispebjerg cemetery on 28 March 1945.
During the return flight Mustang KH 446 was hit by flak, and P/O Robert ”Bob” C. Hamilton had to belly land near Lomborg. Hamilton was unhurt and started walking towards the farm of Anne Jacobsen on Bølvej road. He was quickly captured by the crew of the German observation post at Sortehøj hill located less than a kilometer from the landing site, the guards had been able to see the Mustang for miles and tracked him down before he reached Bølbæk stream and he had therefore no chance of escaping and he became a POW.
A total of 4 Mosquito Mk.VIs and 2 Mustang Mk. IIIs were lost with 9 crewmen KIA and 1 POW.
All 14 prisoners in the Southern wing survived because it was not bombed. The 3 remaining prisoners were under interrogation on the 5th floor, 1 died. 18 out of 26 prisoners survived the bomb raid. A total of 133 Danes dies during and after the raid. Telegrams from Copenhagen modstandsbevægelse thanked the RAF for the successful raid and with the destruction of the Gestapo archives the threat against it´s members was neutralized.
Some of the prisoners in the Gestapo Headquaters.
Lt. Carl Wedell Wedellsborg, dies later from the wounds from jumping from 4th floor
Lt. Ole Stang, died
Admiral Carl Hammerich, died, body was never found.
Poul Sorensen (Secretary-General-Conservative party, saved by a doctor. Police Commissioner Jorgen Odmar, who had worked with Sorensen in the past sent him to a hospital were the doctors fought for his life for several months and therefore he survived)
Morgens Prior (badly beaten by Gestapo) dies later from the wounds after jumping from 4th floor
Capt. Peter Ahnfeldt Mollerup (Copenhagen Resistance Headquater.
Professor Brandt Rehberg
Aage Schoch (Two days after his escape from the Shell House, he joined again the Danish Freedom Council and never concidered to leave Denmark after his escape).
Ove Gesso Pedersen
Police Inspector Lyst Hansen
SOE-agent Poul Borking
Carl Hocke died
Helmuth Jensen died
Jorgen Palm Petersen died
The German casualties were 6 KIA and 50 Danish collaborators were also killed.