Lancaster III PB302 - "Ove" rescued the crew                 På dansk              Updated: 10 JAN 2019

On 27 August 1944 LAN PB302 ditched in the North Sea. AOD has details. This is one of the stories about airmen Rescued by fishermen in the North Sea.

The crew was rescued by the Danish fishing cutter S 304 "Ove" of Skagen.
From the book A. Hjorth Rasmussen: Det er nødvendigt at sejle Fiskeri- og Søfartsmuseet, Esbjerg, 1980
                                                       (Sailing is necessary) Fisheries and Maritime Museum
, Esbjerg, 1980:

In August 1944 S 304 "Ove" was on the return sail with a good cargo of fish when a couple of British fighters flew over the cutter and fired warning shots with machine guns. They dropped flares, and the crew took it from their way of acting that they were to sail west. The planes guided them to a dinghy with 7 airmen. As soon as they had come aboard, they started handing out their Woodbine cigarettes. They sat down on the gunwale, and the pilot asked, "Well, skipper, where are we going?" When the skipper was of the opinion that they were going to Denmark, the airmen had misgivings about it and suggested sailing to Sweden instead. That was out of the question due to the mine barriers in the Skagerrak. However, the discussion was cut short, as the planes returned and dropped a water tight parcel with a long yellow strip attached to it. The parcel was picked up with a boathook. It contained a sailing order telling the course for The Wash (here) south of Grimsby. Still, the skipper did not want to sail to The Wash, but to the Humber (here). The airmen agreed. (See a map of The North Sea.)

The rest of the account from skipper Hans A. Olsen, "Ove", written by Egon Skelmose on 19 March 1970,
from the Fisheries and Maritime Museum.

The rescued airmen borrowed clothes of synthetic wool from the fishermen and had their circulation restored in the cabin. The cook made tea for them, but they turned up their noses at it, when it was poured out for them. It was the so-called apple tea made on Danish substitute leaves. On their way west a storm suddenly rose, so the crew of the "Ove" had to stow all of their gear into the hold and secure everything on the deck. It was at the last moment they had been rescued. Most likely they would not have survived this storm in the dinghy.

30 nautical miles from the coast of England they were met by British high speed launches that took the rescued airmen aboard and escorted the "Ove" to Grimsby. Having arrived at Grimsby the fishermen were told to take their belongings, as they were to leave the ship. They were interned for the night in a room in Grimsby watched by the police. Every time a man needed to go to the toilet he was followed by a policeman.

Their fish was unloaded in Grimsby, but during the night there had been uninvited guests on board. They had stolen some of the fish and cut off the bags of their dragnets. Then they were taken to the Patriotic School in London to be interrogated like all other fishermen.

After some time at the Patriotic School they were put up at the Shaftesbury Hotel for further notice. During their stay at the hotel they were invited to The Danish House for coffee every day. At these visits they often talked to Christmas Møller and his wife, who was in charge of recruiting volunteers. She also tried to recruit the crew of the "Ove". Only the cook volunteered. The others did not want to. Skipper Hans Olsen pointed out that he was responsible for the cutter owned by a shipping company, so he would try to get aboard it again. After this explanation Mrs. Christmas Møller lost interest in them, so there was no more free coffee.

After some time they were offered work at a factory producing ropes, and when it was explained to them that it involved splicing they accepted. However, it appeared that the factory had previously produced ropes, but now it produced sausages. As the weekly pay was so low that you had to add some of your own money to exist, Olsen backed out and went to Whithaven to fish, while the 2 others stayed at the factory. The extra amount for the weekly wages was deducted from his pay in the settling of accounts from the sale of the catch in Grimsby, which was paid out with great delay.

In December 1944 Olsen was told that the ban on his cutter had been lifted, so they could now go fishing. Immediately he called the other crew members back from the factory. They met in Grimsby on 24 December on board the "Ove" to make ready for fishing. There was no food or anything else on board, but by a coincidence the "Skallingen" of Esbjerg was moored next to the "Ove". As the crew of the "Skallingen" had been there for some time they had made their cabin a cosy place. The man who sold their fish had sent a turkey and other nice things to the crew of the "Skallingen", and skipper Poul Poulsen invited the crew of the "Ove" to a Christmas dinner, so both crews had a nice Christmas Eve.

Later skipper Olsen attended a course about weapons, as the "Ove" was to fish near Iceland, so they were to have weapons on board. Once they lost a propeller blade from the cutter, when they were fishing near Iceland, and when they came back to England at long last the stern tube was worn out. A Danish mechanic from Esbjerg, Johan Grumsen, had earlier arrived in England with the cutter "Johnny Venø" of Esbjerg. Now in Whithaven he kept engines in good repair for the Danish fishermen. He replaced the stern tube and had a new propeller blade cast. The work was so well done that the cutter sailed with it for many years. Altogether Grumsen was a good man to the fishermen. If they had any problem they went to Grumsen, not only with engine trouble.

After the liberation of Denmark the authorities of the harbour whispered in skipper Olsen´s ear that if he wished to visit his family at home he might go to Skagen on his next sail, provided that he promised to return to England again, as the ban on their movements had not officially been lifted yet. They had to be quiet about it. As Olsen knew that fuel was in short supply at home, he took extra coal aboard, and when they came to Skagen it was given to the families. He took the opportunity to have maintenance work done on the cutter, and when he returned to England he told them that they had sailed to Skagen with engine trouble, but the Englishmen did not blame him for anything. There were no problems with the authorities in Skagen, as everything was so fluid after the liberation.