About Charles Parish by Helge Christiansen. På dansk Updated: 12 DEC 2010
Charles Woodbine Parish was the Pilot of the plane that crashed near
Kongsmark during World War II.
The following story appeared in the Daily Mail on 21 September 1940:
"PILOT JUMPS - SWIMS SEVEN MILES"
"Here is one of the most amazing stories of the war. It was told to me
yesterday by a young Pilot Officer, sole survivor of the crew of a heavy
bomber that crashed
The machine was struck by lightning, one engine caught fire and the other
failed. The pilot officer saved himself by swimming seven miles in darkness,
in his "Mae
"We were flying at 6,000 feet when we ran into a storm, thunder and lightning. We went up to 9,000 feet and turned on the de-icers.
Suddenly there was a terrific clap of thunder right over us, and for a few seconds we were completely out of control.
The aircraft was badly iced up, and we began losing height at the rate of 2,000 feet a minute, though the nose was up.
Because of the thickness of the ice on the windscreen we were flying blind,
and just as we turned course to head for home, the port engine packed up. We
but this did not worry us much, and we went on until we saw searchlights, which meant the coast of England.
At this moment the other engine conked out. We were flying at 7,000 feet. The Captain decided we'd get over the coast and then jump.
Soon, he asked the rear gunner if he thought we were over land and both the rear gunner and the navigator agreed we were, though we were still flying blind.
The Captain then ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft.
The Captain and I went on. We were now down to 4,000 feet. The
ice had gone and I saw searchlights about five to ten miles away on the starboard side. The compass was quite hopeless and no earthly use. I thought we were flying south along the coast.
The Captain ordered me to jump. We wished each other "Good Luck" and just
before I jumped I yelled to him, "Turn Right". The parachute opened alright
When I landed in the sea I must have gone down a pretty good depth, and came
up with a terrific rush. In fact, I practically "took off", as my parachute
I lay flat on my tummy and "planed" across the rough water. I jettisoned the chute and flying boots and began to swim.
The searchlights had gone out, so I tried to guide myself by the North Star.
I kept it on my right, and swam towards the coast. My "Mae West" was very
When dawn came I saw that I was about three-quarters of a mile from shore. I took off my trousers and made a last effort, as I was about all in. I reached the shore opposite a pillbox.
I was too weak to pull myself out of the water and was rolling about half in and half out of the sea.
I shouted several times, and at last some soldiers rushed out of the pillbox and picked me up.
The soldiers were very good to me. I am sorry to say my five colleagues were
The 5 other airmen are presumed to have drowned and apart from Sergeant Brown they are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Parish reached land at Clacton on Sea in Essex, about 20 km south of
Harwich, so even if The Daily Mail writes that it was in the Channel, it is
better to say that it
After a short leave, Charles was back flying with a new crew to bomb Berlin
on the 23rd of September. On his thirtieth raid he was frostbitten in one
foot, and had to
In the autumn of 1942, Charles requested to be posted to an operational
squadron. Then he joined 75 Squadron in Mildenhall and completed 5 more
operations in Wellingtons. On 11-12 October 1942 he flew Wellington BK206
over Danish waters to lay mines. In late October he was posted to RAF
Newmarket to convert to
After 11 hours and 15 minutes of flying by day and 4 hours and 5 minutes by
night he was sent on his first bombing raid in the new Stirling, a
9 hour trip to Turin,
However, when they approached the target on the second bomb run one of the
starboard engines was hit by flak, so they headed for their base in England.
In 1993 the crew of the plane that was shot down was commemorated with a memorial stone.