Mortsel Communal Cemetery, Belgium - Remembrance 2019 - Bombing 1943
On Saturday 6th April a ceremony was held to remember the 1943 bombing. This year the 76th anniversary.
On 5th April 1943 the USAAF VIII Air Force mounted an attack on Mortsel in Belgium, very close to the city of Antwerp. The target was the Erla motor works which had been taken over by the Germans to maintain Luftwaffe planes.
Only two bombs hit the factory but these started fires which destroyed most of the facilities – and also caused heavy casualties amongst the civilian workforce. It was the remainder of the 24 tons of bombs that were to cause widespread casualties in the town of Mortsel.
There was little warning of the raid and many people were on the streets. This partly accounted for the heavy casualties but there was devastation across a wide area of the residential area of the town. In just eight minutes 936 people were killed, including 209 children under the age of 15 when schools received direct hits. Over 1600 people were injured, 600 of these were classified as serious. It was Belgium’s worst loss of life in a single incident during the entire war.