B-17 at Brahesholm - an eye witness account                                    Updated:  11 SEP 2009

B17 42-39894 crashed at Brahesholm.

From  Vestfynske mindesmærker vedrørende Besættelsestiden 1940-1945 (Memorials in West Funen concerning the Occupation 1940-1945)
by Viggo Hansen, Assens to 
www.airmen.dk on 9 June 2009.

An anonymous eye witness account:    
                                                                                                                                                                 Glamsbjerg 20 February 1944 – the Shrovetide holidays

My three loved ones,

It is late in the evening now, but I have to write to you anyway, because today I had an experience so horrifying and moving that I will certainly never forget it. I still see it
for my eyes and I am scared of dreaming about it, when I go to bed in a short while. Oh, the war is horrible. Believe me, you do not realize it till you have seen some of
its real horrors.

Also in North Funen you must have heard aeroplanes today. Here there was a terrible roar just when we were going to have our dinner. We heard planes and went out
on the balcony to look and listen, but we went inside again. Yes, even I went inside at last when there was heavy shooting right above our heads in the clouds. I heard
an aeroplane coming down and thought that now it would end in disaster. There were many shots up there, but it was impossible to see anything, so I went in realizing
that bullets were falling down. It turned out that the baker´s kitchen window had been pierced by a shot.

When we went to dinner again the maid was sent to the kitchen for hot sauce. She came back and told us that a cloud of smoke had suddenly risen behind Moses´
house. We sensed the tremor, so something must have happened. Almost within the same minute the Falck (a private rescue service) drove out in 2-3 vehicles.
As soon as we had eaten I rushed to the garage, grabbed a bike, and took to the street. People were standing out there. It was said that one or two planes had
crashed as far away as Årup. I rode down and fetched Ebba, and we rode off.

About 5-6 km from Glamsbjerg a horrible sight met us. A number of people had already arrived. The road was blocked with for good reason since a big four-engined
bomber had crashed and exploded with all of its bomb load near the road. It was a sight which is hard to describe. Just by the road where we stopped a young
American was lying about 10 m from us in the field like a bent bundle with his white umbrella next to him in the snow-stained ploughed field. About 10 m further into
the field one of his mates was lying in the same way, and maybe 150 m further away a third, maybe 7-8 of them altogether. The remains of the aeroplane were burning nearly 200 m down the road. There was no road there, only a hole in the ground and a lot of earth on a stretch of maybe 50 m. The burning part of the fuselage lay to
the right of the road, but parts of the plane were lying scattered all over an area which was about 300-400 m in diameter. A house some distance away looked like a
sieve. Only about half of the tiles were still on the roof.

In the snow just by the road where we stopped there was something which might be part of a radio, an oxygen cylinder, fragments of bombs and parts of the plane.
In the ditch there was a nice bag of brown khaki with a zip all around. To the left of the road about 200 m within the field lay a wing that had not burnt. A big H was
painted on a steelgrey background, and then a stripe of brownish green with big yellow numbers. Altogether an impressive sight. Then some German boys came by
bike and started making a machine gun ready on the road, and loading their rifles. Our police finally slipped away, now the Germans had taken over the watch.

A couple of them kept standing on the road near us, and they gave us the impression that they did not care, so we went into the field. Here there were parts of the
plane and brass cartridge cases from machine guns.
We walked on. Suddenly I discovered something soft on the ground. I took a look and shuddered – it was some
of a man´s stomach and his bowels. Further on up to an engine which had plunged a little down into the ground with a big rubber fuel tank next to it.
What a radial
engine! We could see all parts of it.
Some of the cylinders had been blown up. The best way of indicating the size is to say that the diameter of the valves was
about 5 cm, like the diameter of a cup.

When we had seen a little 3 shots sounded from the Germans at the other side of the plane, so back we went. Obviously we were not fast enough, because then they
fired 2 shots and a little later 3 fast shots, but they hit nobody. Then some planes came back and we were ordered to disperse. People said that also a German
fighter had crashed, but the police said that it was not true. People must have taken the wing for a German fighter.

I wanted to see an Englishman. Only one had survived with his parachute. He had entered a house and was taken to Assens Hospital with a bullet in his thigh. The Germans looked rather harmless and wanted to talk to people. As the others spoke some bits of German to them, I could also do it, so I soon got talking with them.
They complained about having to walk around there freezing all night without greatcoats, which the Wehrmacht did not keep in stock for them. They did not handle the corpses very respectfully, but one of the Germans said that they had seen thousands in Russia. Then I asked if they could turn their backs to me for a little while.
They did not dare, but then they did it anyway and said, “Hurry up!” Then I stepped up to the Englishman (American), but I almost regret doing so, because I can´t
forget it. Probably he was hurled out of the burning plane and had flown a couple of hundred metres through the air with his clothes on fire. The Falck had put it out
with foam. He was lying on his stomach with his face pressed down into the frozen ground. His light blond hair, cut like Herman´s, was not even singed, probably
because he had worn a helmet.

His right arm had partly burnt, and some of the flesh on his fingers had burnt away, too. Also one of his legs had been burnt to some degree. On his right leg he wore
a rubber boot with a nice lining and the label “Hamson” in gold letters. His suit was made of solid brown khaki. His collar was about 1 cm thick at the back of his neck.
Next to him was his parachute of beautiful white silk, but not very big, I thought. Yes, he was lying there like that. I still see his head with his hair under his fur collar pressed into the frozen ground, and I cannot help thinking that this morning he left England as a fit young man in his early twenties. He had an aerial combat with the Germans, crashed with the burning plane, and now he was lying there like a shapeless bundle with his face sunk into the frozen ground. He wasn´t together with his comrades when they flew back towards England about three o'clock, and he will get nothing more out of life. Further, I cannot help thinking what his family in England
or Canada or elsewhere would say if they saw him lying there in the hard ploughed field without a tarpaulin or something else over him, almost regarded as a museum
piece over which not a tear was shed. It is the war, yes, but how pointless it is. I think that the Falck could have covered them in order not to leave them uncovered
the whole long night till it pleases the Germans to remove them.

Tonight I was at manufacturer Østergaard´s and saw a badge for a peaked cap saying Sterling, so it has probably been one of the big Sterling bombers (it was a B-17 “Flying Fortress”). I was thrown out today by my mother-in-law. I was showing a cartridge case and suddenly I discovered that the percussion cap was unharmed and
that the heavy brass cartridge case was filled with gunpowder looking like tiny bits of chocolate. Of course she would not allow that stuff near her house. I do not write
more here. I am not going to rush home.

Monday. The bodies are still out there today, and a German fighter is lying some distance away, but it could not be seen yesterday. It is near the village of Uglebjerg.
The Germans have taken a beating.
There is also an aeroplane at Langeskov, and now the pupils from Horne say that a twin-engined German plane came down.
Altogether 7 planes are said to be lying in Funen.