London: Britain`s wartime flying
chief Arthur "Bomber" Harris chalked out a "brilliant" plan to
assassinate Italy`s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini during
World War II, but the then Prime Minister Winston Churchill
rejected it, de-classified documents have revealed.
According to the documents, Harris, the then head of
Royal Air Force Bomber Command, wanted to use the famous Dam
Busters to assassinate Mussolini and sought the wartime Prime
Minister`s permission to plan the precision strike in 1943.
In fact, the British flying chief wanted the crack 617
Squadron to swoop low over Rome and bomb Mussolini`s office
and home simultaneously in an attempt to kill "Il Duce" and
crush Italian support for Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.
But Churchill vetoed the plan as he feared the bombers
would hit historical or civilian targets, the `Daily Express`
According to the documents, a memo to Churchill from
Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden in July 1943, shortly after
Harris took over the Bomber Command, says he wanted to "lay
the operation on".
It added that the 617 Squadron was "manned by experts
and is kept for special ventures of this kind".
The squadron of four-engined Lancasters was formed in
March 1943 and carried out the legendary bouncing bomb attack
on the Ruhr damns in May of that year.
Harris, who was knighted and lived to the age of 92,
wanted to hit Mussolini`s office at Palazzo Venezia in central
Rome and his family home at Villa Torlonia to the north of the
city. But, the plan was finally scrapped.
Mussolini fell from power a few weeks after Harris`s
assassination bid was rejected by the British government. Two
years later, he was executed by Italian partisans.