During World War II, on February 14, 1945, the US Army Air Forces mistakenly bombed Prague, the capital of Czechoslovakia, which was under Nazi occupation since 1939. The bombing, which happened concurrently with a massive attack on Dresden, was the result of a navigational error. The bombing caused significant damage to many populated areas, including historical sites and modern buildings, and resulted in the deaths of 701 civilians and 1,184 injuries.
The American pilots expressed their regret over the accident, and the history of the 398th Bomb Group, based at RAF Nuthampstead, indicates that the radar navigational equipment on the aircraft was not functioning correctly, which resulted in a Dead Reckoning navigational error of some 70 miles. The formation arrived over what they believed was Dresden, their intended target, but turned out to be Prague, which was mostly obscured by broken cloud. The bombing was carried out using radar and resulted in a „blind attack.“
The lead ship’s pilot, Harold Van Opdorp, a Czech citizen who was „born and bred in the city,“ lost two family members in the attack. After the war, the Americans were charged to pay for some of the damaged historical buildings, but the raid was used for anti-American propaganda by both the Nazis and the subsequent Communist regime in Czechoslovakia.