Air Crash in Holluf Pile                                        På dansk                                      Updated: 23 MAR 2021

On 26 February 1942 WEL Z8410 crashed here in Holluf Pile near the footpath south of Klokkens Kvarter 165, 5220 Odense SØ.    p059MACR
See Google Map p059 Wellington Z8410 with the crash site and the airmen's routes found by Torben Odgaard Christensen.

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 Historiens Hus (The House of History) in Odense.  
Erik Jensen
died on 2 September 2002. His article in an abridged version was taken to 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 had managed
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.

There were 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
to 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 No. Z8410.

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 later.

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 Everett Littlefield. 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 here was many years later demolished. Now there are new houses in the area.- Source: Arne Svendsen, 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
walked 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 one
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 Germans.

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 one
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 remember the
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 sandwiches."

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 antenna
(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 Tornbjerg
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 contacts with
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 were made.

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 boys,
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 field.

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."