We are standing here at the
stone that Mads
Nielsen had erected and unveiled on 2 April 1971. That was the way he
wanted to celebrate his 85th anniversary!
On 21 April 1943 at 03.00 hours this
- Bøgballe) crashed
into the field behind us about 150 m away. It was on fire when it crashed
and was crushed into many pieces. None of the 7 airmen survived. Mads
Nielsen was assigned to deliver coffins and collect the bits of bodies. The
buried in Esbjerg. You may see photos of their headstones on my website
In the same night at
03.12 hours a Lancaster
W4330 - Vestbirk)
crashed near Vestbirk. All of the 7 airmen were killed.
At 03.26 hours a Stirling
BF476 - Kragelund Fælled) force landed about 1 km south of where we are
standing now. I have photos from the crash site.
All 7 airmen were captured by the Germans, but
Horsens Folkeblad managed to take photos of
What kind of operation were they on?
(Danish) Aviation Historical Review writes:
In the night between 20 and 21 April 1943 339 bombers from the RAF attacked
Stettin. The sky was clear and the marking made by the
About 40 ha of the city centre were hit, and 13 factories and 380 houses were
totally destroyed. 580 persons were killed in the attack. At the same time
86 Stirlings attacked the
Heinkel factories outside Rostock, but due to a heavy cloud cover over
the target area the attack was changed to the
shipyard in the city
of Rostock. All planes flew over Denmark from Esbjerg to Fyns Hoved, where
the Pathfinders had dropped yellow target indicators. The Rostock formation
to fly to the south along the Storebælt, while the Stettin formation was to
pass Sjælland to Rügen. The flight level was determined to 500-1000 feet or
and 9 Stirlings -
30 bombers - were lost due to flak or attacks from German night fighters.
On www.airmen.dk I have 19 planes lost
over Danish territory with 138 airmen. 84 of them are buried in Denmark, 28
have no known grave, 25 became Prisoners of
man reached Sweden!
30 planes of 425 planes lost - that is a loss
of 7%. A high number! In comparison there were 677 sorties with air-drop
operations to the Danish Resistance movement
with a loss of only 18 planes, a loss of only 2,7%.
At Halskov just south east of the bridge head
of the Great Belt Bridge on Zealand a big Halifax bomber
DT628) crashed in the same night.
The bomb load blew
the plane and its crew to bits. I have worked a lot with that plane, because
the crew members are buried as unknown in Bispebjerg Cemetery in Copenhagen.
According to one account the Germans had had a lot of drinks to celebrate
Hitler's birthday and they were very noisy. They really shot a lot at the
planes that came
near. The next day a 17-year-old girl was at the crash site together with
her friend, a police auxiliary in his uniform.
D. Hansen wrote to me:
of bodies were scattered around us. What was most macabre about it was that
the soldiers were playing football with the heads of the deceased people.
Bech Nielsen: I saw P.
K. Justesen with his horse-drawn carriage loading the corpses onto the wagon
with a pitchfork. They were
over the place.
Bjarne Johansen: The
Germans walked about picking up parts of bodies. They were put into 4 zinc
If I manage to make the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
accept that the airmen in Bispebjerg are from this plane and that it was
HAL DT628, it should
provide the basis for a replacement of headstones. The 7 headstones to
unknown airmen can then be replaced with 8 headstones with names! It was
just an estimate
that there were 7 airmen, because normally there were 7 men in a
decision making process is long, and last time I made a call, there were 80
cases to consider in England!
Normally the airmen had to complete 25 missions, and then they would be
transferred to another kind of duty without direct contact with the enemy.
whom I often talk to on Skype relates
from 1944 that 21 missions was the record he knew - and that plane was shot
down and all of the crew perished on mission 22!
We can not only be
grateful that the young men fought against the Germans. We can also hold
them in profound respect because they kept flying in spite of the
I now lay this wreath
from the Danish Home
Guard to commemorate the perished airmen.