Nye mindesten 16 SEP 2019 HAL MZ915+Mon og HAL NP719+Mon Artikel:Clive, J og James i JV Foto:Jes-Peder K. Løkke Updated: 19 SEP 2021
New memorial stones
 HAL MZ915+Mon and HAL NP719+Mon and Article with photos in JV + Translation by AS  Photo: Jes-Peder K. Løkke

Clive, John, and James: 14 perished airmen had their names on memorial stones

By Birthe Juul Mathiasen
bma@jv.dk  Photos by Claus Thorsted on 16 September 2019

(Photo of 3 memorial stones – caption)
The memorial stone with the short inscription RAF has now been joined by two new stones.
On the left the stone to the perished Australian airmen, on the right the stone to the Canadian airmen.

On Monday evening more than 100 people participated in the unveiling of two new memorial stones on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the
air crashes of two Allied planes near Nørreskoven.

Nørreskoven: They had the names William, Benjamin, Dermot, Clive, John, and James and other English names. 7 of them belonged to the Australian crew of
Halifax III MZ915 which was on the return flight from a bombing raid on Kiel in the early hours of Saturday, 16 September 1944.

However, in the air over Nørreskoven on Als the plane collided with another Halifax with a Canadian crew, also on a return flight. Both planes crashed and all 14 men perished.

On Monday evening their names on two new memorial stones in Nørreskoven were unveiled next to the stone which since the liberation of Denmark has marked
where parts of the perished airmen were buried on ”Englænderhøjen” – The Englishmen’s Hill. (Get the folder Nørreskoven på Als (pdf) Find 7 Englændergraven.)

- It is a part of our history that the airmen fell down here. Airmen who had to give their lives for people in other countries. Airmen who fought for our freedom and peace.
We thank them by remembering them, Mayor Erik Lauritzen stated.

The Englishmen’s Hill
The two planes collided at 01.15 hrs in the air over Nørreskoven. Parts of the planes were scattered over a large area between Elstrup, Østerholm, and Hundslev.
(HAL MZ915 of the RAAF crashed about here - see map by L. Larsen and HAL NP719 of the RCAF crashed about here - see map by L. Larsen.)

Parts of the 14 airmen were buried in Aabenraa. Other parts of bodies were left by the Germans and collected by residents of the area, who buried them in
Nørreskoven. A hill called The Englishmen’s Hill was made over the site. After the war the parts of bodies were moved to Aabenraa.

We owe it to them
Every year on 16 September The Contact Committee for Military Traditions in the Sønderborg Area honours the perished airmen in Nørreskoven. As always it
happened on Monday evening with a large procession of bearers of standards, but this time the attendance was greater than normal. About 60 people participated
in the procession.

Jens Peter Rasmussen, the chairman of The Contact Committee for Military Traditions in the Sønderborg Area explained to the assembly why they had decided to
spend DKR 20,000 on having the names of the perished airmen carved in the two new memorial stones:

- We who have taken on the task of arranging the commemoration of  perished soldiers, think that their names should appear. We owe that to the relatives, he stated
and said that almost every year descendants attend ceremonies to perished airmen of one of the many air crashes on Als during the last years of the war.

Among the attendants were Margit and Henrik Kristensen from Egernsund.  For the first time they stood at The Englishmen’s Hill and joined in the singing of
Always dauntless -.

- But it will not be the last time. Now we put this into the calendar and come out here every year, Henrik Kristensen stated.

-I have a special feeling for standards. Maybe it is a sign that I am growing old, but I think it is a beautiful way of commemorating fallen soldiers, Margit Kristensen explained.

Pieces rained down
Four women from Sønderborg who meet every Monday to walk 6 to 10 km with their staffs, had decided to start their route of the day from The Englishmen’s Hill. It became a thought-provoking start of their exercise.

- We pass  many memorial stones on our tours. Here we heard a little of the background. It was very solemn. We are glad that we came here, stated Margit Jepsen,
one of the women.

When William, Benjamin, Dermot, and the other 11 airmen had been honoured with hand salutes, silence and flowers, the assembly went to a common coffee table
in Notmarkhus. Here you could hear more about the perished airmen and see pieces from the two planes that rained down over a large area and were collected by inhabitants west of Nørreskoven, including the yoke from the control column of the Canadian plane which Hans Jørgen Christensen took out of a nosebag.

- My father picked it up near Elstrup. I was not allowed to join him. It was too dangerous. Incendiaries were also found at our neighbour’s, he told JydskeVestkysten.

Captions for 11 photos by Claus Thorsted at the end of the article:

Now it is here in black and white who lost their lives in the air over Nørreskoven on 16 September 1944.

This is how people on Als commemorate Allied airmen who lost their lives on flights to or from bombing raids on Germany.

The weekly tour of exercise got an extra dimension for Gurli Jensen, Margit Jepsen, Vera Jensen, and Susanne Lauritzen.

Hans Jørgen Christensen had brought a part of one of the crashed planes.

Every year the two crews are commemorated with a procession with torches and standards to The Englishmen’s Hill.

Mayor Erik Lauritzen attended the annual ceremony at The Englishmen’s Hill for the first time.

On the 75th anniversary of the air crash of the two planes over Nørreskoven two new memorial stones were unveiled, so now there are three stones on
The Englishmen’s Hill.

Silence after each bunch of flowers.

Kurt Odefey Vagnsholdt heads the procession with his bagpipe.

The two memorial stones had been erected on the day they were unveiled.

About 100 people commemorated the perished airmen.