mindesmærker vedrørende Besættelsestiden 1940-1945
(Memorials on West Funen
concerning the Occupation 1940-1945) by Viggo Hansen, Assens to
from the newspaper ASSENS AMTS AVIS 17.5.1950:
dedication of the memorial to airmen in Gamtofte
hundred people participated in the ceremony attended by the parents of the
young captain of the air force
horror of disaster prevailed 6 years ago when the English aircraft (LAN
crashed near the church of Gamtofte, several hundred people gathered
yesterday afternoon to attend the solemn unveiling of the memorial to the
young airmen who met their destiny here. Besides residents of the area and
several citizens of Assens, also the parents of the pilot, Mr. and Mrs.
Presland, and representatives of military and civilian authorities, the Home
Guard, the Defence Brothers and veterans of World War I were present.
Threatening clouds gathered about 2 o´clock just before the ceremony, but
that did not deter people who from all sides poured to the small church,
which on this occasion was prettily decorated with flowers. Every seat in
the church was occupied when the flags were taken to the choir. After the
first hymn “Now all of us thank God” the Reverend Villy Finnerup spoke. He
pointed out that we ought to thank God that our small country was spared. We
can and must lay everything in his hand. During the five dark years, which
in a way became the brightest of this century, we sensed that behind all
violence and waging of war there was a battle of the spirit. We saw how
Danish resistance fighters joined this battle.
The most ardent prayers were said.
It was not the parishioners or the priests who said them. It was the doomed.
When the curtain between them and others had descended they prayed – not for
themselves but that their battle should not be wasted. We had a king, who
stood proud and fearless, because he was shown a way before God. Whether
these airmen came from religious homes or not they were supported by
prayers. – The mother who was waiting could do nothing but pray – intensely
and ardently. It is right that we begin by
letting our thoughts ascend. The beautiful hymn “Mægtigste Kriste”
(“Mightiest Christ”) then sounded through the church, and later the second
stanza of “Du, Herre Krist” (“Thou, Christ Our Lord”). Then people left the
church to gather at the memorial stone.
The young airmen bought freedom with their blood
Farmer L. C. Petersen, Engmosegaard, who was in charge of the arrangement,
welcomed everyone at the memorial stone and thanked the standard bearers,
representatives of authorities and contributors.
unveiling the Reverend Finnerup spoke:
gathered to commemorate a Canadian and 7 English airmen unknown to us. We do
it by erecting a memorial stone on this day when, 6 years and some hours
ago, they met death on this spot. It has struck me that we Danes have cut a
poor figure. We have not really realized that this was some of the price to
pay so that we
could keep our freedom. It struck me, when the captain´s parents visited us.
We saw the unknown killed airmen, but had we seen the grief, we would have
understood better. Our conditions today have been bought with blood. These
young people gave what they had. We will look at the young leader’s parents
and say: Forgive us, who were undeservedly spared and saved, we who only
Police sergeant Nissen and police inspector Jensen-Frøbjerg then unveiled
which was covered by the RAF-standard and the Dannebrog.
The inscription read:
thanks these sons of England who were overtaken by death here on 16
Then the names of the deceased airmen: E.J. Presland (Prestland),
A.E. Slade, B.J. Hudson, M.L. Abrahamson (Abramson),
A.W. Knap (Knapp), C. Ashcroft,
R.E. Leatham and A.G. Wrigth (Wright). — (The correct
names in brackets)
bottom it says: Erected by the residents of the Parish of Gamtofte 16 May
constable Andresen, Assens, conveyed the compliments and thanks from the
Danish authorities to the brave airmen who fought for the cause of the
was and still is our cause. We, who lived through the difficult years,
remember when the big birds flew south. We wondered if the airmen were
allowed to see their loved ones again. Not all were. These young airmen now
rest in Danish soil. The memory of them will not die.
can express our gratitude
Wing Commander Braig thanked on behalf of his service for the understanding
shown here, where his young compatriots had lost their lives in the battle
for freedom. Many men from many nations have died away from their homes.
Some rest beneath a simple cross. Others have no other memorial but the sky
and the clouds above their graves. It is a fortune that these young men
found a resting place here.
40 memorials have been erected to the RAF in this country since 1945. They
contribute to keep the memory of our common goals and our common heritage.
No words can express how much we value what has been done.
simply, I thank you.
Braig´s speech was translated into Danish by language teacher Brandes,
wreaths laid solemnly
Mr. Presland then went to the memorial stone and laid a wreath. It was a
moving moment where all present felt with the two parents. Commander Braig
laid a wreath from the RAF and chief constable Andresen laid a wreath from
the Danish authorities. A. M. Justesen, Odense, laid a wreath from the
American Legion while he in a beautiful way drew the attention to the
significance of good fellowship. From the Red Cross a wreath was laid by
accountant Bent Martensen, Assens, who spoke beautifully to the parents and
thanked them for their son´s effort. Chairman of the parish council Ejlert
H. Jørgensen laid a wreath from the Municipality of Gamtofte. Deputy judge
Valentiner Branth, Assens, laid flowers from the Home Guard and brewer J.
Larsen laid flowers from the Defence Brothers in Assens.
Mr. or Mrs.
Presland intended to have spoken, but both of them were so overwhelmingly
moved that they were unable to do it.
They silently stepped up to
Mrs. Presland wore her son´s awards.
Reverend Finnerup mentioned that it was the married couple´s eldest son who
had found death. The youngest had fought
against the Japanese, but had got home unharmed. The young captain, who lost
his life on his 41st sortie, was awarded 4 times – last time with
the most distinguished award 8 months before he was killed.
Then the ceremony had ended, but the crowd was slow to disperse. Many people
silently laid flowers at the foot of the memorial stone in the beautiful
spot between the blossoming fruit trees.”