On 26 February 1942
WEL Z8410 crashed
in Holluf Pile near the footpath south of Klokkens Kvarter 165, 5220
Google Map p059 Wellington Z8410
with the crash site and the airmen's routes found by Torben Odgaard
All of the story was published in the Odensebogen 1992,
see Erik Jensen: An Air Crash at Neder Holluf on 26 February
1942. (Title translated into English)
It is still sold at
(The House of History) in Odense.
Erik Jensen died on 2 September 2002. His article in an abridged version was
www.hollufpile.dk like this:
"The crash of an English bomber on the night
before 26 February was also a part of matters that the newspapers were not
allowed to write about, but based on eye witness accounts and contemporary
archives it is still possible to put the pieces of the puzzle together to create
a picture of the events.
That night 61 bombers from the Royal Air Force attacked the harbour area of
Kiel. The German battle ships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen
to get out of the harbour of Brest (here) shortly before. Obviously the aim of the raid on
Kiel (here) was to make it impossible to repair ships there.
43 Wellingtons, 12 Manchesters and 6 Stirling bombers in the formation, and
3 of the Wellingtons were lost in the raid. One of them crashed near the road
Ørbæk at Neder Holluf.
13 of the Wellingtons were from 12 Bomber Squadron, 1 Bomber Group. They took
off from RAF Binbrook in
Lincolnshire. The plane which
ended up at Neder Holluf
was one of these, a Vickers Wellington MK 11, Serial
The Neder Holluf plane took off on 25 February
1942 at 23.30 hours from Binbrook heading for the west coast of Jutland with the
Horns Reef (here) west of
Blaavandshuk as the sight of land. This took the plane
directly across one of the biggest concentrations of German flak on the west
coast of Jutland. Z8410 was hit
by flak like so many other allied planes before
and after this night. One of the engines was hit. Actually the plane was doomed, as a
Wellington had difficulty in flying
on only one engine. The damaged engine had
to be stopped, and the propeller was feathered (to reduce air resistance - AS).
At 03.00 hours Binbrook was told over the radio that the plane had engine
trouble and that they would try to reach Sweden. Nothing more was heard from it
The bomber kept losing height, and as they
thought that they were over the Storebælt it was obvious to Pilot, Squadron
Leader Ralph B. Abraham that something
had to be done. They turned around and
came over Fyn. The bombs were released at about the same time, but to no avail.
Shortly after the pilot had to give the
order to abandon the aircraft.
The first to bail out was Co-Pilot, Sergeant David Wardill, RAAF followed by Rear Gunner, Flight Sergeant
Soon after they had landed west of
Seden they got together and hid their
parachutes in the snow on the slope of the railway line
Odense-Kerteminde-Martofte west of the bridge across the stream
Odense Å. Their
ideas about where they had landed were not very accurate. Obviously they hoped
that they had reached Sweden, but the reality was quite different.
Together they passed a couple of farms where they did not succeed in waking up
anybody. At about 05.00 hours they came to the farm Gammeleje in Seden. A
herdsman who was milking the cows allowed them to sleep in the barn. Later they
had breakfast before Danish police and later representatives of the German
Wehrmacht put them into custody.
(The farm Gammel Eje
was many years later demolished. Now there are new houses in the area.- Source:
Seden Lokalhistoriske Arkiv)
The third airman to bail out was Air Gunner / Bomb Aimer, Sergeant Frank Payne
who landed near the farm Grønløkke west of Åsum. He hid his parachute and
along Åsumvej heading for the town, obviously to give himself up to the police.
Maybe he first took other roads. Anyway, at about 07.30 hours in Skt. Jørgens
Gade he met a patrolling policeman who took him to the police station.
Sergeant Payne was handed over to the Germans less than an hour later.
The fourth crew member was Air Gunner of the top turret, Flight Sergeant George R. Duckham. He landed near Blangstedgaard. At about 05.30 hours he met
of the women who was to milk the cows on the farm. They went to the
farm together. According to the airman's own description he was treated with an abundant
breakfast. Danish police was called and also Duckham was handed over to the
This delivery took place on Blangstedgaard. Danish police here handed over
Duckham and Navigator, Pilot Officer Eric N. Foinette who was the last man but
to bail out. He had landed at the farm Store Tornbjerg a little further to
the south east. Foinette himself describes the events like this, "As far as I
snow was deep and I buried my parachute and my flying suit in the
snow under a tree. Then I walked through the heavy snow till I found something
that looked like
a road in the snow. I followed that until I caught sight of
light from a place that turned out to be a farm.
I walked into a stable and met a farmhand who was
milking the cows. It was about 4 o'clock in the morning. I wondered about the
lack of blackout and in an
optimistic tone I asked in the few words in German
that I knew, if I were in Sweden. Unfortunately not.
Then I was taken to the farmhouse where the farmer treated me with coffee and
Later Foinette realised that both he and some of the others had been extremely
lucky when they bailed out, as Duckham had forgotten to release the radio
(or haul it in again), so the crew members who bailed out through a
hatch in the bottom might easily have struck the antenna and got into trouble.
Now with only the pilot left in the plane, he also had to take himself to safety.
Pilot, Squadron Leader Ralph B. Abraham landed at the other side of Store
in the direction of Over Holluf. From here he walked to the north east
to the wood Kohaveskoven between Landkilde and Kristiansminde. Here he made
some forest workers who had evidently seen German patrols in the
area. They quickly overturned some bushes across the footprints left in the snow
by Abraham. Furthermore, they presented him with a bike, so he could get
on. Later the forest workers had problems with the Germans, who did not
understand that the airman
had vanished into the cold frosty air, but no arrests
From the wood Abraham cycled along on the road towards Åsum. From there
he continued to Rågelund, through the village and along an earth road that ends
at the stream Vejrup Å. Instead of trying to get across the stream he followed
it and came back to Rågelund again. At about 09.00 hours he entered a home for
Rågelund Drengehjem (now
Rågelund Efterskole - AS). The principal did not understand English, so help was
sent for. Gardener Salling's wife had attended an
evening course in English and
she had been to England as a nanny for a period.
Abraham only had the goal to get to Sweden
as soon as possible. A lively negotiation followed. Abraham offered money
to get help and Mrs. Salling offered to hide
him. However, due to the very
uncertain conditions in the country he was finally taken to the police station
in Odense. Here it was established that Abraham had
some cash, but in the wrong
currencies. In his possession the police found 900 French Francs, 20 Dutch
Guilders and 350 Belgian Francs. He was not the only
airman who carried money.
Left by its crew the plane went on towards the
ground - by now at a very low altitude. The aircraft turned west and it came
over Niels Jacobsen's farm Nytoftegård at
Over Holluf. On the farm the
impression was that it just missed the roof before it crashed about 1 km from
the farm into a field boundary with a bank of earth and
some pollarded willow
trees, which broke the plane totally apart. The available information makes it
likely that the plane did not burst into flames at the crash.
Calls to the police in Odense were above all
about the presence of English airmen around Odense. Soon after the first call
the police sent out a couple of policemen
and about 10 police auxilliaries. If
possible they were to find the plane which based on available information had
crashed and crew members that might have survived
the crash. The formation
arrived at Tornbjerg at about 06.00 hours when it was still dark. The area had
to be searched by the formation walking across the fields in a
long row. By this
search the plane was found at 07.14 hours in a field near the road to Ørbæk, at
the 6 km milestone from Odense and south of the road, about
200-300 m into the
The police placed a guard at the plane and
informed the German garrison in Odense about the find. From 08.50 hours the
Germans took over and from then it was
not possible to get closer to the site
than to the road from Ørbækvej to Neder Holluf. Parts of the earth bank at the
crash site can still be seen in the now built-up
areas of Klokkens Kvarter and
Vægtens Kvarter in Holluf Pile. The residents may still be able to find pieces
of wreckage in their gardens.
Many people tried to get near the wreckage in the
following days, but German guards kept them away. In the afternoon of 26
February Farmer Jacobsen's son Jørgen Jacobsen, Nytoftegård was in the area with
his camera, but a photo of the wreckage seen at a distance does not show much.
Only a German guard and the wrecked
right engine is seen. More than 150 m west
of the crash site Jørgen Jacobsen and some of his friends found one of the
wheels of the plane, and he took another photo.
Before noon the police in Odense were able to
close the case almost completely as far as they were concerned. All of the 6
airmen had been handed over to the
German Wehrmacht. There was no indication
that more airmen had been on board the crashed plane, so there were no more
people to search for.
Somebody might wonder why apparently just one of
the airmen tried to hide and get on to Sweden and why Danish police so
relatively soon handed over the airmen
to the Germans. Questions like that come
from our present wisdom after the event. Now we can establish that the policy of
cooperation (with the German occupying power - AS) did not break down until
August 1943 and we know the extent of the resistance in the last years of the
war. In February 1942 the policy of cooperation
had only been met with a few
pinpricks, and even if the great majority of the population sympathized with the
cause of the Allies, the Germans still had the fortune
of war. By and large no
organized resistance movement had yet appeared."