Low level daylight attack on the Philips plant, Holland

Operation OYSTER, the daylight attack on the Philips radio and valve works at Eindhoven, Holland, by No. 2 Group. De Havilland Mosquito crews gather for a final briefing at Marham, Norfolk, before take off. Standing second from left is Wing Commander H I Edwards VC, Commanding Officer of No. 105 Squadron RAF and leader of the Mosquito force on the raid.

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.

Ground crews prepare De Havilland Mosquito B Mark IV, DK336, of No. 105 Squadron RAF for the raid at Marham, Norfolk.

A De Havilland Mosquito B Mark IV of No. 105 Squadron RAF taking off for Eindhoven from Marham, Norfolk.

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.

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:

There were no more fighter interceptions. Ahead of me I saw the front formation of Mosquitoes in the distance already climbing up to 1,500 feet so I immediately took my formation up as fast as I could to 1,500 feet to catch Edwards’ formation. We caught up about two-three miles south of Eindhoven.

He banked over to port and started to dive down on the Philips works in the centre of the town. The moment I turned to port I could see this factory standing out unmistakably, very prominently, right in the centre of Eindhoven.

We all went down in this shallow dive, full throttle, and at the appropriate moment, dropped the bombs. As I went across the Philips works the whole factory seemed to erupt in a cloud of smoke and flashes. It looked as though the whole thing was completely eliminated.

In the distance I could see masses of Bostons whizzing about across the trees at low level to port. I came straight down to ground level. Now the Mosquitoes all split up and we all had to come home separately.

Low-level oblique photograph showing incendiary bombs dropped by Lockheed Venturas bursting on the roof of the Emmasingel lamp and valve factory.

Low-level oblique photograph showing many bursts of 30-lb incendiaries and high-explosive bombs enveloping the Emmasingel lamp and valve factory. Photograph was taken from a Lockheed Ventura of No. 21 Squadron RAF as it cleared the target area.

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.

Smoke and incendiary bombs cover the target area at the height of the attack. Note the Lockheed Ventura at top right.

It was midday, a lovely sunny day, virtually no cloud, so I set off across the Dutch countryside at high speed. I decided not to follow the given route out which was towards the coast of Holland and out into the North Sea. I decided that that’s where the fighters would be and therefore, I turned north, to the Zeider Zee.

The fighters would all be directed to the main formation. Pilot Officer J. E. O’Grady, who was on his first trip, latched on to me to see him home. He followed me all the way up the Zeider Zee and I knew we’d made it when we whizzed over the Causeway at about twenty feet.

I turned to port to come out between Den Helder and Texel. This was a mistake on my part because the flak from Den Helder and from the southern tip of Texel were sufficiently close together that if you flew between the two you were within range of light flak.

And so I had to cross a belt of light flak and weaving tracer as I went through between the two islands. But I was untouched. I took the usual evasive action and the Mosquito behind appeared to be perfectly all right but when we were about six minutes out into the North Sea, Hill said, ‘He’s gone into the sea!’.

At first I could not believe what he was saying because we were thirty miles out to sea now but I turned round to go back and I’m afraid it was only too true. There was a big boiling cauldron of water.

O’Grady was a very nice, cheerful, young Canadian. I’d known him as a pupil at OTU at Upwood when I was an instructor. He only looked about sixteen. I suppose he was about twenty. I had a moment of guilt that if I’d done something different and he hadn’t followed me, he’d still be alive.

This and many other similar stories from Mosquito veterans can be found in Martin Bowman: The Men Who Flew the Mosquito

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.

Amazing pilots eye view film of the raid:

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Simon Coxall September 12, 2014 at 12:08 pm

So pleased this book of the raid is being published.
My father Flt Lieut Frank Thomas Coxall was on this raid flying D for Donald Douglas Boston of 88 Squadron out of Oulton, Norfolk.
Such losses.

david cohen August 14, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Anyone have a record of Nathan Cohen( my uncle) who was on this raid and never returned
Thanks
David

paul gill June 26, 2014 at 4:56 am

My father took part in this raid. His friend Flight Officer J.E. O’Grady died during the attack. My father’s squadron mates say that as a result my father ate all of his meals alone, from that night on until the end of the war. I wish that I could have asked him about all of that, but he passed away when I was very young. I hope that he and Flt. Offcr. O’Grady are having a pint on us tonight…

Phil June 17, 2014 at 10:48 pm

My fathers cousin died on this raid. Amazing to find this footage

Johan February 5, 2014 at 4:48 pm

And my dad was on the ground watching, on his day off from Philips, trying to work out who were the friends and who was the enemy.

Carol January 18, 2014 at 8:19 pm

I am pretty sure that my Dad was on this raid – he has just passed away at the age of 93 – so proud of him!

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