The Last raid of the Second World War

Everyone in Europe and rest of the world perhaps anxiously waited for the end of the Second World War. Even the Nazi commanders, according to some reports, seemed wary of the drag and loss of lives during the course of the War.

Recently a photograph had come to light that shows an RAF bomber and crew preparing for the last bombing campaign of the war. This raid took place in the last days of the War, reportedly after Adolf Hitler had shot himself.

The bomber in the photograph is famous ‘Mosquito’ aircraft, with a heavy payload and few crewmembers. The origin of the photograph was the ‘RAF Downham Market’ and it is dated 2nd May 1945.

The photograph was discovered by Brian Emsley, who is the son of a Second World War veteran Mr. Edward Emsley who can be seen on far left in the photograph.

Crewmembers had already realized that this was going to be the last operation by the bomber and its crew. This is why they had written the historic date on the side of the bomb with a chalk.

After the discovery of the picture and upon Emsley’s inquiry the Ministry of Defense’s Air Historical Branch confirmed that it was indeed the last mission of the Bomber’s command against a target in Germany.

This particular raid was carried out two days after the death of the ‘Fuhrer’. The Nazi forces were surrendering to Russian Red Army and allies in large numbers.

The Air Historical Branch also stated that before this last raid by ‘Mosquito’ bomber, there were no bombing campaigns being carried out for days, inside Germany. This was primarily because German forces were being defeated on all fronts by the allies and the Red Army, the BBC News reports.

Authorities felt the need of a final bombing after the arrival of some intelligence about the potential regrouping of Nazi Army. There were reports that German soldiers were gathering at Kiel to escape to Norway on ships where they could continue to regroup and launch further attacks. The Mosquito bomber crew was given the task to bomb the airfields in and around Kiel and then destroy the port as well. The campaign was a successful one and Allied forces took control of Kiel 36 hours after.

Mr. Emsley said that his father had volunteered to join the RAF in 1941 after German aircrafts had bombed Hatfield factory in Herfordshire. Scores of innocent workers lost their lives and Edward Emsley decided to take active part in the war to defend his country and people. Edward Emsley died in 1979, and according to his son, he did not speak much of the war or the photograph during his life. However, Mr. Emsley said that his father would have been very happy standing by the bomber thinking the war was going to be ending soon, since he was a very peace loving and kind human being.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE