Continuing our series looking back at the events of 80 years ago and the role of Surrey and Hampshire in accelerating the demise of the Nazi war machine, this week we recount one of the most daring air raids of the Second World War which took off from RAF Lasham on April 11, 1944.

By 1944 the destructive power of the deHaviliand Mosquito, the 'wooden wonder', as a low-level tactical strike aircraft had been fully realised - and 613 Squadron based at Lasham brought all of the Mosquito's advantages to bear, flying a succession of rapid hit-and-run missions over Europe.

These included night-time 'intrusion' sorties to harass Luftwaffe airmen on the ground, as well as plenty of daylight precision attacks such as that against the Dutch Central Population Registry building in early-April, 1944.

After the invasion of the Netherlands early in the war, the Kunstzaal Kleykamp Art Gallery was taken over by the German Abwehr and Sicherheitsdienst, the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party, and used to store duplicates of all issued identity cards. This allowed the Germans to investigate whether someone's identity card was a forgery, and consequently cost the lives of many resistance fighters and people in hiding.

In 1943, Dutch secret agent Pierre Louis d'Aulnis de Bourouill proposed to the Netherlands government in London that the archive be bombed by the RAF and on April 11, 1944, Major General Johan Willem van Oorschot ordered the mission to be carried out.

Just 12 hours after the order was given, six Mosquitos of Squadron 613 took off from RAF Lasham towards the Netherlands.

Their approach was along the South Holland Islands, at a height of just 15 metres to stay under the German radar, with a bend around Gouda to avoid the anti-aircraft guns of Rotterdam. After that, the Mosquitoes reached The Hague and reduced their speed, flying at house-top level over the city.

The bombing took place during working hours, because then the steel filing cabinets of the Kleykamp would be open. In three waves, the planes did their job.

The first two fighter-bombers dropped their explosives to punch a hole in the roof and penetrate as deep as possible into the building. The next two planes dropped incendiaries filled with a mixture of oil and phosphorus. All bombs were time-delayed, to avoid the Mosquitos being consumed by the explosions.

The third and final attack by two aircraft was only partially successful. One of the planes suffered from a faulty mechanism, which prevented the bombs from being dropped. The pilot returned twice in vain for another attempt. He did, however, take a number of photos of the explosions.

The building was entirely destroyed, and the bombs that missed the target hit a German barracks immediately behind it. Sixty-two people were killed, including four Germans, and 23 seriously injured. A number of homes were also affected and 24 families ended up on the street.

Only at the end of the attack was any ‘flak’ sent up from the town, and all pilots returned to England unharmed. The raid was a mixed success. Just a quarter of the identity cards at the Kleykamp were destroyed in the ensuing fire and those that survived were quickly transferred elsewhere. Nevertheless, the archive was unusable, and the Kleykamp staff members who died took with them much of the knowledge about the archives. As a result, hundreds of people in hiding and resistance fighters could be helped to obtain safe false papers.

Less than two months after the raid, on the nights before and after D-Day, the Mosquitos of 613 Squadron carried out more daring low-level attacks on enemy supply lines and armoured positions in Normandy to assist the allied landing forces.

613 Squadron would later relocate to France, and Lasham airfield ceased to be an operational Royal Air Force station in 1948. It is today home to Britain’s largest gliding club.