Anders Bjørnvad about the American airmen Holmes and Wengert of p309r Updated:  26 JAN 2016   På dansk

Excerpt from  Anders Bjørnvad: "De fandt en vej" - They found a way                               See also Toldstrup-Rebild

"On the night before 7 May 1944 an American plane for the first time dropped weapons over Denmark. The drop took place near Rugaard, Funen.

The 12 containers were dropped perfectly, but on the return flight the 4-engined Liberator was shot down near Skjern. The crew bailed out under dramatic circumstances. 4 men had to jump on the hatch until it opened up and they fell out.

At about 4 a.m. a bruised airman was found at the wreck of the plane near Vognbjerg. He stated that the rest of the crew had been killed. Then he was handed over to the German Wehrmacht. At about 9 p.m. the same evening the Germans arrested one of the "killed" airmen near Borris.

In the morning two other airmen were startled when they met in a wood. Together they walked north towards Videbæk. On their way they nearly scared the life out of a German soldier on a motor bike. He was shaken to the core of his soul to see American airmen - in full uniform - in the middle of a road in Jutland. The two airmen were picked up (by the resistance movement) and Toldstrup went to Videbæk to fetch them. Then they went on north towards Holstebro. On the way Toldstrup asked the airmen to get rid of the most striking parts of their uniforms. After a night at baker Børge Larsen's in Holstebro the airmen were taken to Salling where doctor Anton Rask took over. About 12 May the airmen entered the ship "Mathilde", sailed out of the Limfjorden, and later they reached Sweden.

These two airmen are definitely a part of the great "harvest" of that spring - a harvest by a happy coincidence as always. The episode is not included in the chapter "Flying spring" for a number of reasons. This is in Jutland and these airmen had a mission different from the missions of all of the other airmen. Finally the rescue of these two airmen had far more significance than normally.

Particularly Major Kai Winkelhorn, the American chief of SOE/OSS, had been excited to learn what had happened on the flight to Funen. He had had to report that the plane had been shot down, but later he had a conversation with the two returned airmen who told him about their adventurous journey. Then he could report to his superiors that the resistance movement that so eagerly yearned for weapons made an effort to help Allied airmen that might survive an air crash.

Of course there was always a risk involved in flying weapons to an occupied country, but they would like to be certain that crashed aimen were helped to the best of the ability of the resistance movement. Now the USAAF obtained that guarantee. The timing was perfect.

The negotiations about increasing supplies of weapons to Denmark led to massive drops during the summer of 1944. 19,605 carbines (cal. .30), more than 6 million cartridges and 66,000 magazines, 1,387 automatic pistols with 130,000 cartridges, 601 rocket launchers, most of them bazookas, nearly 7,000 rockets for them and 79,994 lbs plastic explosives of American origin were dropped in that period.

Toldstrup had just become reception chief in Jutland and he was very busy. Characteristic of him he himself took time to help the two airmen. It was the first time he saw and talked to Allied airmen. It was an experience to him and with his organizational talent he immediately saw that something might be done to increase the chances for picking up airmen by the resistance movement.

As he built his huge organization to receive supplies of weapons, his chiefs of districts were told that in case of air crashes they had to look for survivors that might be helped. People had to be sent to the areas in cases like that."