RAF bomb Gestapo HQ in Oslo

The wooden De Havilland Mosquito had been in action for some time in 1942. It was only revealed to the public after the raid on the Norway Gestapo HQ.

When the British learnt from the Norwegian Resistance that the Nazi appointed leader Quisling was holding a rally in Oslo it was decided to disrupt events with a low level raid. The new Mosquito aircraft was already demonstrating its capabilities as a low level precision bomber and was the obvious choice for the raid. It was to be the longest distance raid yet undertaken by the aircraft.

Squadron Leader George Parry of No.105 Squadron led the raid for the 1,100 mile round trip from RAF Leuchars in Scotland out across the North Sea:

We refuelled and bombed-up with four eleven-second delayed-action 500-lb bombs and set off at low-level, fifty feet all the way, to Norway. It was like flying down a long, straight road and we were using dead reckoning throughout. We went through the Skaggerak, made landfall at the southern end of Oslo Fjord and flew up the eastern side.

We flew up to a police radio station perched on a hill and I was told later I hit the flexible forty-five feet radio antenna, although it didn’t do any damage to my Mosquito.

We had been briefed that there would be 10/10th cloud at 2,000 feet over Oslo, but it was a lovely day with blue sky. We had also been told there were no fighters to worry about, but the Germans had brought a squadron of Fw190s south from Stavanger for a flypast during the parade. They had landed at Fornebu and had only been on the ground a short time when we arrived at 3 p.m. over the centre of Oslo.

A lookout at the southern end of Oslo Fjord reported us and they were scrambled. Two Fw190s got into the action. Fortunately, the rest did not get off in time.

….

Red tracer was going past me. Some of the Fw190’s shells hit the Royal Palace, although we were blamed for it at the time. I thought it was ground fire during our bomb run and didn’t realize he was after me until my No. 2 and No. 3 overtook me. I was concentrating on ‘buzzing’ the parade and taking a line south-west over the centre of Oslo for the bomb run.

We were travelling at 280-300 mph when I dropped my bombs. The speed the bombs were going meant they more or less followed us. They didn’t drop but a few feet. Then they slowed down and hit. It was only after I had dropped my bombs that my navigator noticed a fighter was behind us. I opened up rapidly and shook him off by flying up the valleys at low-level.

Parry got away but one other Mosquito was shot down. See Martin Bowman: The Men Who Flew the Mosquito

Mosquito on a test flight with De Havilland in September 1942. Mosquito B Mark IV Series 2, DK338, in flight after completion. DK338 served with No. 105 Squadron RAF as ‘GB-O’.

Photographic evidence is now confirmed by reliable ground sources. The main damage to the Gestapo Headquarters was in the rear of the building; the delayed-action bombs, which must necessarily be used in such low-flying attacks, passed clean through the Gestapo building and exploded next door.

An observer regretfully remarks that if the bomb had been only three metres lower it would have hit the centre of the front facade. He adds : ” German airmen and flak officers are impressed by the precision bombing, which was fantastically cleverly carried out; there are not so many German flags on the houses any longer.”.

From the report on Bomber Command Operations as submitted to the War Cabinet see TNA CAB 66/30/44. What the report does not mention is the number of Norwegian civilians killed, that the Norwegian Government in Exile, which had not been consulted about the raid, made representations about.

Mosquito B Mark IV Series 2, DK338, in flight after completion, banking away from the camera to show the camera ports in the forward section.

The exploits of the Mosquito crews of 105 Squadron were to become the basis, rather loosely, of the fictional 633 Squadron:

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Ferraro July 18, 2018 at 2:36 pm

Gordon Carter was the pilot of one of the four Mosquitos in this raid on the Gestapo HQ in Oslo in September 1942. His was the only Mosquito to be shot down in the raid by one of the two (unexpected) attacking German fighters. He survived the crash (injured) and died soon afterwards in Oslo. I think his navigator was killed in the crash.

Gordon was a pre-war school friend of my late father, Herbert Ferraro. Also, at the time of the raid, Gordon was married to my late aunt (my father’s sister), nee Lenore Ferraro, “Norrie”. Gordon and Norrie were married earlier in 1942, about 6 months before the Oslo raid. Long weeks passed before she knew of Gordon’s fate.

The story I was told is that Gordon survived the crash-landing into a lake (the plane was on fire) and he was taken by the Germans to hospital, where he died of his injuries. There then followed (so I was told) a strong debate between the Norwegians and Germans about where Gordon would be buried, and by whom.

Although not successful in military terms, partly due to bomb failures, the Oslo raid was very symbolic to the Norwegians, under German occupation…as was Gordon, the English pilot who died for the Norwegian cause.

The Germans relented and Gordon was buried by the Norwegians in a public cemetery in Oslo. I was told that, following this, his grave was frequently adorned with flowers, to the annoyance of the Germans, who soon declared that putting flowers on the grave must stop, However, I was told that, following the order, Norwegians regularly risked their lives to put flowers on Gordon’s grave. It was an act of defiance.

A year or so after the end of the War, Norrie was invited to visit Gordon’s grave, as a guest of the Norwegian government. Surprisingly, she didn’t go. However, life after WW2 in England involved some turmoil. And also, by that stage, she had met someone else and was soon to be re-married.

Norrie was my favourite aunt. Whenever Gordon came up in conversation, which was rare, she spoke fondly of him. Norrie survived her second husband and lived long into her 80s. She is survived by her daughter from her second marriage. And by me and my sister, her nephew and niece.

I was born after WW2 so, obviously, I never met Gordon. My sister visited his grave, following Norrie’s death. He will always be remembered in my family as a courageous pilot who made the ultimate sacrifice.

This contribution is made in the memory of Gordon Carter and Norrie, on behalf of my family….Richard Ferraro.

H. Peter Krosby October 6, 2015 at 1:32 am

I was 13 years old at the time and lived a few miles east of Drobak on the Oslofjord. I heard the Mosquitos approach from the south and saw them a few hundred feet away skimming the treetops of a patch of forest below me as they headed north above a farm field, down a shallow valley, across a lake, and onto an arm of the Oslofjord. I heard the bombs explode a couple of minutes later. In the December 1944 raid, an errant bomb killed a schoolmate of mine aboard the streetcar it hit. During one raid by several fighter-bombers flying low over my house, one of the pilots tipped his wings as he saw me jumping up and down and waving my arms.

Carl Davies August 20, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Gestapo Headquarters on fire

Sport of Lords

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