Halifax HR722 - Speech by af Helge Christiansen   Photo from Helge Christiansen På dansk   Updated:  11 MAY 2014

On 21 April 2014 at 14.00 this stone with a memorial tablet to the crew of HAL HR722 was unveiled with this speech by Helge Christiansen:

We are gathered here to unveil a memorial stone to 8 airmen who lost their lives right here during World War II. I shall now remove the flag and introduce the stone.
A brass tablet with an engraved inscription is mounted on it and I am going to read it to you:               

                                                                                                   8  AIRMEN

                                                                                     On 21 April 1943 a bomber of the
                                                                                         Royal Air Force crashed here.
                                                                                       All perished and were buried in
                                                                                                  Svinø Churchyard.

                                                                                        DONALDSON - Pilot
                                                                                                      LAY - Navigator
                                                                                             PARSONS - Navigator
                                                                                                  BANKS - Air Bomber
                                                                                                    COLE - Wireless Operator
                                                                                               WHYATT - Flight Engineer
                                                                                                  WILLIS - Air Gunner
                                                                                         FITZGERALD - Air Gunner

                                                                                        Halifax HR722 - 158 Squadron

                                                                                           Mounted on 21 April 2014

The website mentioned, AirmenDK, is made by Anders Straarup i Randers, who also assisted with the text for this
memorial stone. For 7 years he has gathered all information on Allied planes and airmen and put it on the internet.

Now I shall try to explain the background of this memorial stone:
On 4 May last year the annual memorial ceremony was held in Svinø Churchyard in South Zealand. It was particularly marked that then it was 70 years ago that a
bomber was shot down here at Drøsselbjerg. That was because 71 year-old Rosalind Anne Elliot, née Parsons, was among the attendants. She had not reached
the age of 2 when her father was killed here, and now she had travelled to Denmark together with her husband Ted Elliot to see her father's gravestone.
(See Visit at the gravestone of an airman shot down over Denmark.)

His name was Wilfred John Parsons. He was the navigator of the plane and one of the 8 airmen who perished here. He only reached the age of 25. He left behind
his wife and little daughter Rosalind back home on the Isle of Wight near the south coast of England.

The killed airman was washed ashore and he and another airman, George H. Willis, were both found on 18 May near Kirke Stillinge and Bildsø Strand. On the same
day the Falck in Ruds Vedby took them to the chapel of rest in Kirke Stillinge. On 21 May 1943, one month after they perished, they were buried in Svinø Kirkegård next to their comrades.

After the memorial service in the churchyard in Svinø last year Rosalind Elliot asked if the crash site at the Drøsselbjerg Cliff is marked in any way, but it was not.
That made me wonder if the site ought to be marked. That is what is happening now.

In 1993 we had a Memorial stone near Kongsmark erected to the 7 airmen who perished there. It was the 4th of the memorial stones erected in Zealand at the crash
sites. This stone will be the 6th in Zealand apart from gravestones in churchyards.

Over the years I have seen how significant it has been to a number of relatives to find the spot where their father or grandfather lost his life. I can mention that a young married couple from Canada planned their honeymoon trip so that they could visit both his grandfather's memorial stone near Kongsmark and his gravestone in
the churchyard in Svinø.

Now I shall give an account of what happened  in that night in 1943:
The Allied wanted to give Hitler a special greeting on his birthday on 20 April. 425 Royal Air Force bombers were dispatched against Stettin and Rostock where a
great number of factories were totally destroyed. However, the Germans were prepared with anti aircraft guns and night fighters, so during the overflight 19 RAF
bombers were shot down over Danish territory and 112 airmen perished. 3 of the planes crashed in West Zealand after midnight near Halsskov, Kongsmark and Drøsselbjerg. (See Stettin + Rostock 20 - 21 April 1943 with
Google Map p149-167.)

The Halifax that crashed here was one of the bombers targeting Stettin. They left RAF Lissett in Yorkshire at about 9 p.m. At a very low altitude they flew over the
North Sea, Esbjerg and Fyns Hoved and then to the south east. The first planes had perfectly marked the bombing target in Stettin and about 40 hectares of the
central part of the town were hit. 13 factories and 380 houses were totally destroyed, and 580 persons were killed by the attack.

During the return flight things went wrong. The weather was clear with moonshine, so it was nearly like flying in daylight. Danish Aviation Historical Review states that
the Halifax was hit by flak over Korsør. Pilot David James Donaldson, 34, then attempted a forced landing in the field above the slope behind me. The plane hit the
ground, but the speed was too high and it went on into the water. It happened at 02.16. All 8 airmen aboard perished, either from the shooting or by drowning.

The explanation about a forced landing cannot be confirmed. The local witnesses all state that the Halifax was shot down by a German plane. It exploded in the air
and fell into the water in a number of parts. Very likely it was the same Messerschmitt 110 that shot down the Stirling near Kongsmark a few minutes earlier. The
German plane was piloted by Unteroffizier Berg.

At the same time as the above mentioned aerial battle Løgstrup's farm Emilsminde only 600 m from here caught fire. It burned down and all cows and pigs were
burned to death in the fire but the farm building and the horses were rescued. (See Korsør Avis about air crashes)

On the following day the parts of wreckage of the plane were found and 4 of the perished airmen were taken to the chapel of rest at Stillinge Kirke.
The other 4 perished airmen were washed ashore south of the cliff during the following 4 weeks. (See Photos by Christian Larsen)

8 young men 20 to 35 years old had to sacrifice their lives at this spot. Their effort was one of many which secured that since the war we have been able to live in
freedom. We will honour them with this stone and by singing
"Always dauntless - " accompanied by Børge Riis Larsen.