May 2nd, 1945 (WEDNESDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: Frigate HMCS Victoriaville departed Barry, Wales to escort Convoy ON-300. (Dave Shirlaw)GERMANY: Soviet forces complete the capture of Berlin, when Soviet units in the north and south of Berlin link up on the Charlottenburg Chaussee. German forces surrender to Marshal Zhukov, who immediately despatches troops to search for the bodies of Hitler and Goebbels.
With over 130,000 men surrendering in Berlin, later that day General Weidling was taken, together with Mohnke, Gunsche, and other survivors from the Bunker, to the airfield at Strausberg (where Zhukov had his field HQ), about 35 km east of the city, where the Russians had established a special holding camp for VIP prisoners. Through O'Donnell's account, Mohnke has told us that the next day (May 4) Weidling and his staff had to leave the camp in the morning, returning that night. Weidling told him later that he had been taken to the Reichskanzlei where he was filmed coming out of one of the exits to the Voss Strasse from the cellars beneath the ruins of the Reichs Chancellery. Later, the Russians were to use this piece of film as propaganda , saying that it had been taken at Weidling's headquarters (he had actually directed the battle from Army Headquarters in the Bendlerblock) after he had signed the surrender document.
US and Soviet troops meet near Barow and Abbendorf.
The British 2nd Army captures Lübeck and Wismar.
Canadian forces take Oldenburg.
16 RAF Mosquito Mk XVIs of No. 608 Squadron, No. 8 Group join Halifaxes of No.100 Group (Nos. 177 and 199 Squadrons) to make the last Bomber Command raid of the Second World War, an attack on Kiel. (22)
There had been no offensive operations by Bomber Command since 26/27 April
and most squadrons thought that their war in Europe was over, but it was feared
that the Germans were assembling ships at Kiel to transport troops to Norway in
order to carry on the war there. A last raid by No 8 Group Mosquitos was thus
organized, with a large supporting effort being provided.
16 Mosquito bombers of No 8 Group and 37 Mosquitos of No 100 Group were first
dispatched to attack airfields in the Kiel area. A Mosquito of No 169 Squadron,
No 100 Group, was lost while carrying out a low-level napalm attack on Jagel
airfield; its crew - Flying Officer R Catterall, DFC, and Flight Sergeant DJ
Beadle - were killed.
126 Mosquitos of No 8 Group then attacked Kiel in 2 raids, 1 hour apart.
The target area was almost completely cloud-covered but H2S and Oboe were used. Large fires on the ground were seen through the cloud. No Mosquitos were lost on these raids. Towards morning, a large column of military vehicles departed in the direction of Flensburg on the Danish frontier.
'The upsurge in the population's morale was indescribable', comments the town
diary. 'There was a final spasm of fear when explosions were heard from the
harbour but these turned out to be all the flak guns and warships in the harbour
firing off their ammunition.' After this, Kiel was declared an open, undefended
town. As soon as this happened, all the military stores and some of the civilian
ones containing rationed goods were thrown open to the public before Allied
troops arrived 36 hours later.
RCAF, RAF, and Norwegian 'Mosquito' fighter-bomber a/c from RCAF 404 Sqn, RAF 143, 235, and 248 Sqns and Norwegian 333 (RAF) Sqn, attacked and sank U-2359 in the Kattegat, in position 57.29N, 011.24E. There were no survivors from her crew of 12.
Meanwhile, there had been a final small tragedy for Bomber Command. 89 RCM aircraft of No 100 Group had been sent to support the Mosquito bomber force and 2 Halifaxes from No 199 Squadron, each with 8 men on board, were lost.
The Halifaxes had been part of the Mandrel screen and were also carrying 4,500lb bombs and large quantities of Window. The 2 aircraft crashed at Meimersdorf, just south of Kiel, and it is probable that they collided while on their bomb runs. They were the last Bomber Command aircraft to be lost in the war. There were only 3 survivors. 13 airmen, 12 from the United Kingdom and one from the Irish Republic, mostly second-tour men, died. They were: Warrant Officer WF Bolton; Flight Sergeant AA Bradley; Flight Lieutenant WE Brooks; Sergeant FT Chambers; Flying Officer KNJ Croft; Warrant Officer KAC Gavin; Flight Sergeant D Greenwood; Flying Officer ASJ Holder, DFC; Flight Sergeant JR Lewis; Flight Sergeant J Loth; Pilot Officer WHV Mackay; Warrant Officer RHA Pool; and Flight Sergeant D Wilson. (Ron Babuka)
RAF Mitchell light bombers of 2nd T.A.F. make their last mission of the war when 47 aircraft of Nos. 98, 108, 226, 320 and 342 Squadrons bomb railway marshalling yards at Itzehoe. (22)
AUSTRIA: The defenders of Innsbruck begin to sue for peace. The French I Corps reaches Gotzis and Obersdorf.
U-977 sailed from Kristiansand
on her final patrol. (Dave Shirlaw)
ITALY: The German surrender is effective at noon. 490,000 troops become PoW.
A remarkable story of the dangerous intrigue that led up to the surrender of German forces in Italy began to emerge today. It was an SS man, Karl Wolff, who masterminded negotiations in Switzerland and north Italy with Allen Dulles, the representative of the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS) which was formed in 1942 to gather intelligence and aid resistance groups.
The first peace-feelers were put out in December by two SS men concerned with the possibility that Hitler's threat of a "scorched-earth" policy would destroy much of Italy's culture. Dulles took a cool view of Wolff's involvement, but agreed to talk when two Italian partisans were freed as a gesture of good faith.
Negotiations began seriously at Ascona, a resort of Lake Maggiore.
Despite Russian objections, two Allied officers, joined Dulles in total secrecy.
In grave danger, Wolff was recalled to Berlin but used his charm to escape
Hitler's wrath. Even so, he and his co-conspirators faced death until the
surrender was signed at Caserta.
BURMA: Operation Dracula, the capture of Rangoon, which began with a paratrooper drop yesterday continues. The British 26th Indian Division lands for a naval TF which includes 6 escort carriers and BB Queen Elizabeth and Richelieu.
The British IV Corps north of Rangoon at Pagu complete the liberation of Rangoon.
CANADA: Corvette HMCS Cobourg commenced refit Halifax, Nova Scotia.
U.S.A.: Destroyer USS Rupertus laid down. (Dave Shirlaw)
ATLANTIC OCEAN: Minesweeping
trawler HMS Ebor Wyke was torpedoed and sunk by
U-979 off Hrafneyri Light,
seven miles north of Skagi, Iceland. The only survivor was Coxswain John Milnes.
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