Stirling W7441- Memorial stone - Report    På dansk    Photos from Leif Gr. Thomsen    Updated:  05 NOV 2012

On 29 September 1941 STI W7441 crashed into the Lillebælt about here off Bågø. 3 of the 7 airmen perished. Memorial stone unveiled on 29 SEP 2012.

Leif Gr. Thomsen sent text and photos to about Memorial ceremony with the unveiling of a memorial stone near Avnevig.  Here.

"As if by magic days of rain turned into a brilliant sunny day on Saturday, 29 September at 1400 hrs. just when we  were about to unveil a memorial to 3 fallen
Englishmen who found their graves in the Lillebælt on this date 71 years ago.

About 100 people, both young and old, had arrived to attend this particularly rare event when the guard of honour from the Air Force Home Guard fell in.

Rob Thomas of Derby, the nephew of Sgt Alec Donaldson who survived the crash, and Leif Gr. Thomsen told about why and how the memorial stone was erected
here 71 years after the crash, each in their respective language.

To Rob Thomas and to all families of crew members of the crashed Stirling it is a relief that in some way things have come to an end. Now there is a place to lay floral greetings.

Then 2 English girls, Hannah and Lorena, lifted the cloth off the stone which could now be viewed. The symbolic image of the stone was described, again in two languages.

At the very top you see the constellation the Big Dipper which appears in the badge of 7 Squadron. It dates back to the time when pilots only had the compass,
landfall and knowledge of the wind and of the stars as navigational aids.

Then you can read the names of the 3 airmen and at the bottom "We paid your tomorrow with our today”. This sentence was taken from the text of a memorial on the World War I battlefield on the Somme where a full regiment from Ulster were nearly wiped out. It says, ”When you go home tell them about us and say that we paid your tomorrow with our today”.

When the stonemason from Forsberg-Haderslev had carved this inscription he stated that it had moved him so much that he did not want anything for his work.

According to the tradition from 15 February (a wreathlaying ceremony to the crew of LAN R5702) the 3 names were read aloud to show that we will remember them.

Next on the agenda was the laying of floral greetings. 2 Danish girls, Sofie and Camilla, laid flowers from the parishes of Hejls and Fjelstrup. It was really moving to
see their good manners when they performed their task.

Then Mayor Jens Chr.Gjesing, Haderslev and Mayor Jørn Pedersen, Kolding laid flowers. Both of them expressed their joy that this memorial stone has been
established in a cooperation across the borders.

Squadron Leader Robert Hylands represented the British Embassy, and on behalf of the Royal Air Force he expressed his thanks for the local initiative which had
caused this memorial stone to 3 fallen colleagues to be erected.

Flowers were laid with statements from Rob Thomas, Derby, and Kathleen Copley, Yorkshire, who represented the families of Sergeant Alec Donaldson and Warrant Officer John J.Copley DFM.

Lieutenant Colonel Martin Pedersen, Fighter Wing Skrydstrup, delivered a speech of thanks to the 3 airmen and he laid a wreath from the Royal Danish Air Force.

According to its traditional practice the association People and Defence laid a greeting through their representative Erik Mylin.

Finally the Vicars Susanne Madsen, Fjelstrup and Vicky Popp Fredslund, Hejls laid greetings from their parishes with the wish that we remember history so that
we do not have to repeat it.

Fighter Wing Skrydstrup sent a special greeting. 2 F-16s made a flypast at exactly 1430 hrs. A handsome gesture.

After one minute of silence Rob Thomas read the traditional Act of Remembrance, followed by The Last Post played by trumpeter Karl J.Berkwill. He also accompanied Always dauntless - (Altid frejdig, når du går) which was the end of this moving and in our time absolutely rare event where 2 nations came so close to each other."