The bombing of the Bezuidenhout took place on 3 March 1945, when the Royal Air Force accidentally bombed the Bezuidenhout neighbourhood in the Dutch city of The Hague. At the time, the neighbourhood was more densely populated than usual with evacuees from The Hague and Wassenaar; tens of thousands were left homeless and had to be quartered in the Eastern and Central Netherlands.
The British bomber crews had intended to bomb the Haagse Bos ("Forest of the Hague") district where the Germans had installed V-2 launching facilities that had been used to attack English cities. However the pilots were issued with the wrong coordinates so the navigational instruments of the bombers had been set incorrectly, and combined with fog and clouds obscured their vision, the bombs were instead dropped on the Bezuidenhout residential neighbourhood.
On the morning of March 3, 1945 medium and light bombers of the North American B-25 Mitchell and Douglas Boston types from No. 137 and No. 139 wings of the Second Tactical Air Force took off from Melsbroek near Brussels and Vitry in Northern France. Between 8 and 9 o'clock in the morning the bombers dropped 67 tonnes of high explosive bombs on the Bezuidenhout, wreaking widespread destruction.
Due to insufficient fire engines and firemen (as many of them had been either called up for forced labour in German industry or had gone into hiding to prevent being signed up) the resulting fire was largely unchecked, killing 550 people, including eight firemen.
The Theresiastraat in the Bezuidenhout before World War II
As soon as the British realized the extent of the damage, they dropped fliers over the neighbourhood apologizing for the error.
Trouw, the Dutch resistance newspaper, reported:
The horrors of the war are increasing. We have seen the fires in The Hague after the terrible bombings due to the V2-launching sites. We have seen the column of smoke, drifting to the south and the ordeal of the war has descended upon us in its extended impact. We heard the screaming bombs falling on (the) Bezuidenhout, and the missiles which brought death and misery fell only a hundred metres from us. At the same time we saw the launching and the roaring, flaming V2, holding our breath to see if the launch was successful, if not falling back on the homes of innocent people. It is horrible to see the monsters take off in the middle of the night between the houses, lighting up the skies. One can imagine the terrors that came upon us now that The Hague is a frontline town, bombed continuously for more than ten days. Buildings, burning and smouldering furiously, a town choking from smoke, women and children fleeing, men hauling furniture which they tried to rescue from the chaos. What misery, what distress.
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Philip Reinders, 2016