3 Pilots to Sweden                         På dansk                                           Updated:  27 OCT 2011

The 3 American fighter pilots 1st Lieutenant Dean C. Johnson, Major John D. McFarlane and Captain Robert D. Brown were assisted by the resistance movement
on their way to Sweden. This is 3 Pilots to Sweden - their story as told by Anders Bjørnvad in
De fandt en vej (They found a way pp.163-169)

On 12 March 1945 at 11.47 hours P51 44-14350 crashed at Søllested (which is here overview here). Pilot, Major John D. McFarlane had bailed out.
On 12 March 1945 at 11.50 hours
P51 44-72214 crashed at Vedskølle (which is here, overview here). Pilot, 1st Lieutenant Dean C. Johnson had bailed out.
On 20 March 1945 at 16.40 hours P51 44-14135 crashed in Gørlev (here, overview here). Pilot, Captain Robert D. Brown had bailed out.

"Lieutenant Dean C. Johnson was sailed to Sweden on 23 March 1945. On 26 March, three days later another two American fighter pilots, Major John D. McFarlane and Captain Robert D. Brown, arrived in Sweden via "the shipping agents" (a part of the Danish resistance movement). The picking up and the further assistance to the three pilots is typical for the conditions in 1945. All of them had been forced to bail out from a damaged plane on the return flight from Germany. We are going to have a closer look at their rescue.

Please, will you help me to Sweden?

Captain Brown landed by parachute north of Høng in West Zealand on 20 March 1945. He went to a gravel pit where he hid his equipment.

The gravel pit belonged to farmer  P. Guldborg-Jensen, Sæby, who at this time of the occupation had a kind of illegal boarding house. 10-12 members of the resistance movement wanted by the Germans were living on the farm. Guldborg-Jensen had no idea who they were, because he never asked.

One of these illegal boarders got hold of the airman and took him to the farm, where he had a snooze after the thrilling episode.

It was said that the Germans had got incorrect information about where the airman had landed, so they were turning the nearby Sæbygaard upside down.  As a German search at Guldborg-Jensen's would be very unfortunate, it was decided to get the airman away at once. Then he and the illegal boarder rode across Zealand to Copenhagen on bicycles.

Lieutenant Johnson landed by parachute at Basnæs east of Skælskør on 12 March 1945.

Nearby in his father's house a young man was dozing on a divan. He felt a bit unwell and did not feel like getting up, even if he heard allied bombers at full blast heading west.

At about 13.30 his sister shouted that something was happening outside. The patient got out just in time to see a column of smoke and an airman on his way down
by parachute. The patient was Leo Larsson who had resigned as the gamekeeper of the Allindemaglegaarden and was now staying at home. The airman landed a
couple of kilometres way, Larson noticed.

In August 1944 he had assisted the Canadian pilot Walter. Now he got on his bike and shortly after he was on the spot. At least 50 persons were gathered.

Some people told Larsson that the airman had thrown his parachute onto a tipper waggon and then walked along a path to the east.

Larsson followed the given direction, reached the airman and rode close to him. Right then the airman turned and faced him, saluted him and said,

"Please, will you help me to Sweden?" There was a quiet moment on the path! They were watching each other. Larsson then told the airman that he would try to help. The airman was told to go to the wood nearby and hide near a big tree in the wood pointed out by Larsson.

The airman disappeared towards the wood, while Larsson cycled back to his home. He told the people at the landing site that the airman had vanished. Anyway, he was unable to spot him along the path, he said.

With provisions of food he later went to the big tree, where the airman was waiting for him as planned. He was very happy to see Larsson.

Back home again Larsson would make a telephone call to Copenhagen for assistance. He had just asked for the number, when he saw German soldiers accompanied by a Danish speaking woman approaching the house. Larsson quickly put the receiver down.

His father's house and other houses were searched by the Germans. The area was unsafe and it was obvious to Larsson that the airman had to be taken away. He then made an arrangement with missionary Esbo on the island of Glænø who promised to provide accomodation for the airman. At night Larsson and his brother-in-law fetched the airman in the wood. A pump house was placed at the embankment to Glænø. Here the airman changed into plain clothes and then went on along the embankment. On Glænø the airman found accomodation at teacher Sønderriis's. Larsson visited him here and he learned that the name of the airman was Johnson.

Very likely Larsson must be the only Dane who twice was the very first contact of an allied airman!

The airman's stay at the Sønderriis's lasted for about a week. He felt quite unwell after his parachute jump. On his arrival at Glænø he had a spruce needle in his eye which Mrs. Sønderriis had to remove.

During a visit to Slagelse Sønderriis arranged with district medical officer Fog that if there were a telephone call to Glænø saying that "Ulla" had to be in Slagelse on a certain day at 3 o'clock p.m. it meant that Sønderriis on that day and at that time had to hand the airman over to Hans Jacob in Løvegade.

One day there was a call for "Ulla" and Sønderriis, with Johnson disguised as a service mechanic of sewing machines, cycled towards Slagelse where the airman was handed over at the appointed place.

Some days later Johnson came to Høng with Lars Skotte, the leader of the resistance movement in the county. Grocer Svend Olsen from Sorø, who was underground in the area, was assigned to accompany the airman to Lindegaarden. On their way they visited principal Bjerre who presented the airman with a book in English, so that he would not be bored too much when he had to wait.

Skotte accompanied Johnson towards Copenhagen. For a start they cycled to Roskilde. Here they went to E. Arboe-Rasmussen, the leader of the Falck station. (Falck is a private company with ambulances and fire engines) E. Arboe-Rasmussen relates, "The day after the attack on the Shell House Skotte from Slagelse arrived with an American fighter pilot ...  We had lunch and toasted in snaps to the Allied victory ... I took both of them in an ambulance to Copenhagen - right past the Shell House, so he could see the effect. His name was Dean C. Johnson 1897 Feronia Arc. Sct. Poul, Minnesota. - He wrote that in my hymn book."

Roskilde was always a Mecca to allied airmen.

The third fighter pilot, Major McFarlane, landed on Lolland - on the same day and in the same hour that Johnson came down. When he reached Sweden he  reported
to the American authorities about his adventure. Through this report we are able to follow McFarlane's way seen through his own eyes.

McFarlane landed in a field at Søllested. He came round when a man was leaning over him and asked in perfect English, "Are you hurt? Is there anything I can do for you?" Shortly after a young man hurried to McFarlane with a raincoat and a soft hat.

McFarlane put on the hat and put the raincoat on over his uniform. Then the young man accompanied him away from the site. On their way they met two German soldiers. McFarlane ran into the wood while the young man answered questions from the Germans!

A couple of hours later McFarlane was taken to something which to him looked like a scout camp. At about 8 o'clock p.m. a gentleman and a lady (Erik Haagensen and his wife) came up to McFarlane and took him to farmer Hans Larsen in Ryde. Like Larsson and Arboe-Rasmussen that we just heard about he was a "veteran". Hans Larsen had picked up Valley and Hooper who later stayed at Halfdan Rasmussen's.

McFarlane presented the young man with his pistol and ammunition to thank him.

On the second day of his stay a man came up to Hans Larsen. His name was Gerhard Krogh. To McFarlane he appeared to be a kind of commander in charge of about 50 members of the resistance. We know that he was also a "veteran".

On the third day McFarlane was taken to Maribo where he stayed with Krogh's sister Mrs. Dupont for 6 days. Accompanied by Gerhard Krogh his tour then went on to Copenhagen where they arrived at about 7.30 o'clock p.m. to be welcomed by a female acquaintance of Krogh. Together the three of them went to a family in Vesterbro.

Krogh stayed with McFarlane till he was to embark for Sweden. After one night in Vesterbro McFarlane the next day was moved to the Svendsen's who lived near a big park (Fælledparken). During his stay here he and Krough walked about in the city. On their way back from a sightseeing tour they experienced the attack on the Shell House on 21 March shortly before noon. Krogh took photos during the overflight and together they saw an American fighter crash into the Fælledparken.

Of course Krogh and McFarlane went to have a look at the Shell House. They were on the spot less than an hour after the attack.

On Sunday afternoon when Krogh and McFarlane came back from a walk, it was time for the airman to leave.

He was taken to a lady's house where he slept through the night, and then he was accompanied to the harbour. Captain Brown, another American airman was waiting here. It was said that a Lieutenant Johnson had been sailed to Sweden a couple of days earlier.

At 16.15 hours a man on a bike told them to start walking down the harbour. They were to wait in his office in Tuborg Harbour (see Monument) without talking to anyone. Another man came to the office to take them on board. They rode on their bikes, McFarlane first and Brown 10 minutes later.

At 17.00 hours they were aboard a boat designed to pick up stones from the seabed. The two airmen and three Danes stayed in the cabin till 05.30 hours next morning.

One by one they were taken to the engine room. McFarlane was the first to go. The captain removed a plate in the wall and then asked McFarlane to step in and keep to the right. Three more Danes had arrived. Now there were 8 men behind the loose wall.

At 06.45 hours two Germans with dogs came aboard. They went through the ship without finding anything suspicious.

The captain had sprinkled cocaine on the deck, so the dogs had their sense of smell ruined.

The boat sailed, coffee was served and a couple of hours later the refugees were transferred to a boat which had sailed out from Helsingborg. They arrived here at about 11.00 hours.

They were searched by Swedish costums officials. The two airmen only told their names, ranks and serial numbers to the Swedish police which had also appeared.
At about 16.00 hours McFarlane and Brown met the British consul in Helsingborg (Grew) who told them that they might disclose how long they had been in Denmark,
if anyone asked again. Grew presented each of the airmen with a one-way ticket to Stockholm and 20 Swedish kroner.

The three American fighter pilots zigzagged a lot through the occupied Denmark. Two of them met people who had experience in assisting airmen. Of course this was an advantage.

The three of them were picked up by the "right" people within half an hour. Well, McFarlane hardly touched the ground before a raincoat was handed over to him. The distances covered by the airmen on their own could now very often be worked out in metres.

The leaders of the resistance still wanted to accompany the airmen themselves to make sure that everything went well. They in person wanted to find the way!

Even if it looked aimless, there was a pattern when the airmen were handed from one person to the other. Behind everything we feel planning and thinking.

The principal characters, the three airmen, were to a high degree extras during their journey in Denmark after they had met "somebody." This is common for all airmen who were assisted during all of the occupation."