Fallen Allied Airmen - Summary               About AirmenDK * Sources * Construction * FAF Summary * Loss of Lives   26 AUG 2008

Faldne Allierede Flyvere Fallen Allied Airmen by Anders Bjørnvad, 2. Edition 1995

Summary in English by Anders Bjørnvad, translated by Varinka Wichfeld Muus

“This book, which is published by ”The Veterans of the Danish Fight for Freedom”, contains a preface as an introduction to a list of those Allied Airmen, who were buried in Denmark as a result of their operations during World War 2, and extracts of documents appertaining to these events.

The preface “Triumph and Tragedy” highlights incidents in the allied flights over Denmark, not least those connected with the 677 drop-operations, which the RAF and
the USAAF carried out with the loss of 18 aircraft. But examples are also given of the flights carried out in connection with bomb runs, mine laying, SOE flights to
Poland and attacks on targets in Denmark.

Almost 300 allied aircraft crashed in or near Denmark in the course of these operations.

Examples are given of the fate of surviving airmen, both those who were taken prisoners, and the almost one hundred, who were given assistance by The Resistance Movement to reach neutral Sweden in safety.

From the above mentioned planes, and from those who crashed at some distance from Denmark, for example near Norway or Holland, 1160 bodies were buried in
Danish soil.

In addition some 80 airmen from the more than 300 planes were buried in other countries: Sweden, Norway, Poland, Germany, Holland and England.

Finally around 500 airmen remained lost at sea.

To begin with the German command in Denmark sought to concentrate the burial of allied airmen at a few large cemeteries, each of which was to cover a certain geographical area. These cemeteries were situated at Esbjerg, Aabenraa, Lemvig, Frederikshavn and Svinø. There about half of the allied airmen were interred.
But some were also buried in 114 cemeteries, though some of these funerals were first carried out after the war.

Two reasons for this  played their part. Many bodies were washed ashore on the Danish coast and were to a large degree buried in the nearest local cemetery.
In addition, a new German edict in the Summer of 1943, extended the possibilities of interments of allied airmen outside the main central cemeteries.

The burial of the many dead airmen in Denmark was  considered by the Germans to be the concern of the German Forces.

During the period 1940-1943 allied air personel  were given a military funeral arranged by the local German authorities. This included a service by the German army chaplain, a salute fired by a platoon of German soldiers, and a wreath.

On the basis of a new German directive it became possible to leave out the services of the German chaplain, the salute and the wreath laying.

At some places the German chaplain immediately ceased to participate in funerals, while a whole year passed elsewhere before the religious participation ceased.
The salute and the wreath laying ceremony seem to have stopped everywhere by the end of 1943.

Following yet another order of August 1944 the allied airmen were buried “on the spot”. After the war 65 such bodies were recovered in Denmark.

The Danes took an active part in the burial of allied airmen right from the beginning of the occupation of Denmark in April 1940. During the period 1940-1943 it was
possible for Danish civil servants to assist at the funerals, and many availed themselves of the opportunity.

County councillors, police commissioners, lord mayors and even garrison commanders arrived at the funerals in full dress bearing wreaths, and at many funerals
countless Danes stood outside the cemetery as they were refused admittance.

This was also a clear demonstration against the German occupation and at the same time a gesture of sympathy towards the allied casualties.

The Germans were very sensitive to Danish demonstrations with enemy airmen, and therefore arranged burials at odd times, such as in the very early morning,
to hinder Danish participation.

The time at which the Germans started cutting down on the ceremonies coincided with the worsening of relations to the occupying power, the Danish Government´s resignation and the King´s confinement to his castle. Shortly thereafter the capture of the Danish Jews started, but the Danish people organized escape routes to
Sweden, whereby more than 6000 Jews were transported to safety; 95 % of all Jews in Denmark.

The opportunity for active resistance against the Germans increased in the late 1943 with the creating of an underground army on directives received from London.

It was, in fact, towards the end of this eventful year that the German Forces began to bury airmen in Danish cemeteries without the assistance of any clergy.
The clashes between the Germans and the Danes all over the country was in this respect due to the Dane´s innate respect for the dead.

At one site the Danish police commissioner arrived on the scene with a Danish vicar and a wreath for the airman. At other sites the local authorities were turned away
by armed German soldiers when they attempted to attend a funeral.

At many places, where the vicar had not been allowed to officiate at the funeral, he did so “on the following Sunday”, often in the presence of the entire congregation.

In September 1944, when 8 RAF flyers had been buried in a bare field in West Jutland, the local vicar took matters into his own hands. With the aid of local inhabitants
and the Civil Defence he moved the bodies into his own churchyard, where he carried out the funeral services in the presence of the entire local community.

When the Germans heard of this, they arrested the vicar and several of his helpers.

Many Danish clergymen showed both courage and determination to ensure allied personel a Christian burial.

The first allied airman was put to rest in Denmark in the Autumn of 1939, the last airmen were found in 1949. By that time, though, around 127 American airmen had
been disinterred and moved out of the country. This event took place in April and in May 1948.

At present there are 1017 pilots and flying personnel buried in 110 Danish churchyards; of these 5 are American.

In the section “Allied Graves” those men, who are or were buried in Denmark are listed and the cemeteries are mentioned in alphabetical order.

At the churchyards where crews of several planes rest, or did so until remove, the dead are mentioned as a crew and chronologically listed according to the date of
their demise. In each case attention is drawn to any member of the crew buried elsewhere, whether in Denmark or in another country.

The number of crew members lost at sea are also mentioned.

In each case, a description of the type of plane involved, its target and site of crash has been included, and where the bodies were found and how they were buried.

The book is based on a wide range of sources: they are of Danish, English, American and German origin. In Denmark a wide range of archives have been consulted viz:
the “Rigsarkiv” in Copenhagen, the file on The Resistance Movement, the Civil Defence Archives, the Danish Police Files and German archives.

At the Freedom Museum a list of the monuments erected in memory of deceased flyers, and around the country, knowledge has been culled from local archives,
church files, cemetery registrations etc.

Lastly several persons have given short descriptions of events they personally were involved in, in support of materiel from the archives consulted.

The Ministry of Defence in London has compiled a manuscript based on Imperial War Graves Commission´s register of British air personnel buried in Denmark.
This materiel was supplemented by additional information from The Ministry of Defence and through the author´s research in Public Record Office in London.

With regard to American airmen, of which only a few are still buried in Denmark, information was taken from The Missing Air Crew Report. This material was
supplemented from other sources including The Memorial Affairs Division, Washington, D.C.

With great veneration this book is dedicated to the Royal Air Force and to the United States Air Force.”