Account from Evald Sønderby   På dansk   HAL MZ901  Google Map p381 Halifax MZ901  Updated:  13 FEB 2021

Mail received from Evald Sønderby on 12 September 2012 with an account and attached photos about this air crash. Photos  A * B * C

"Recently I met with eye witnesses to the event on 15 October 1944. They have read this account and approve the text 100%. The only point that we are not quite
certain about is whether the pilot intended to make a forced landing. It does not appear from any accessible report, so it is a supposition supported by the fact that
according to standard procedures he dropped the mines at a deserted place and then he found a suitable place between two rows of spruce trees.

This is also based on a report from Flight Sergeant A. C. Smiths who was on this operation as a member of the crew of Halifax LV785, ZA-C, 10 Squadron, RAF.
(Report sent by Evald Sønderby to AirmenDK on 20 SEP 2015. He had it from the youngest daughter of Virgil Lee Riley who sent much valuable information about him.)

The air crash near Idom on 15 October 1944

On Sunday 15 October 1944 the RAF Bomber Command directed a large scale attack on the German U-boat bases in North Germany. 500 planes took part in the
14th attack since 1941.

37 of the aircraft, 22 Halifaxes and 15 Lancasters, were detailed to drop mines into the Kattegat.

To counter possible attacks by German night fighters the RAF sent 2 Mosquito fighters (Intruders), both of them with effective radar systems able to spot possible
enemy aircraft  in all of the area of this operation.

One of them had to fly low level (2,000 feet) between Karup Fliegerhorst Grove (now Karup Airport (here) and Aalborg Airport. The other had to fly high level
(20,000 feet).

The minelaying formation left the bases in England at about 1830 hrs. It was a moonlit evening with heavy rain clouds. It took a course across the North Sea towards
the minelaying areas with the code names Yewtree, Krauts and Silverthorn. (
See Minelaying areas.) It made landfall near Søndervig from the south west and
continued across the Ringkøbing Fjord to the north west towards the target area. Over Vind
56o15`27 N  8o 33`55,90 E it was attacked by a German night fighter that managed to hit Halifax MZ901/Q-N, 424 Tiger Squadron from the base Skipton–on-Swale, Yorkshire, with a burst. During the aerial battle a live fragment of a shell fell down and set fire to the outbuildings of the farm "Kirkegaard" in Vind, so that they burned out. The plane continued in a north easterly direction looking for a suitable
place for a forced landing. Between the farms ”Øster Høgsbjerg” and ”Hestbjerg” it turned left heading north. The 4 1,500 lbs. mines were dropped near Simonstrup
56o 19`40, N.  8o 32` 16,o5 E. They fell into a swamped meadow near Høgsbjerg Bæk (Brook).

(See places on
Google Map p381 Halifax MZ901 - zoom in, click on the icons, zoom out and see most of Jutland.)

Shortly after a crew member bailed out, but unfortunately his parachute had not enough time to open up, so he was mortally injured by his fall into  a field with beets.
He did not die immediately. Jacob Nielsen found him two days after the accident. Jacob related that he could see that he had scratched in the ground before he died.
The forced landing failed and the plane hit the ground a few metres from the farm ”Engholm”, Engholmvej 3, Idom 56o 19 33 N  8o 32`44,09 E. The 6 remaining crew
members all perished in an enormous fire of burning fuel and exploding ammunition. Smashed up and burned to death they lay in the pieces of wreckage. Only the
Pilot could be seen faintly sitting at the front.

Shortly after the Germans arrived and shooed the neighbours, who came hurrying up, back home to their blacked out rooms. Next day the clear-up began. 
Vicar H. H. Frank insisted that the killed airmen had to be buried in Idom Churchyard, but the Germans in charge refused that with reference to the broken off
agreement of cooperation of 29 August 1943. (Vicar Frank told me that he approached the German Headquarters residing at Hotel Schaumburg in Holstebro. Frank
thought that a German officer would get up, click his heels and say Jawohl, when a Vicar spoke hard to him. That did not happen. Vicar Frank was virtually thrown
out of the office.)

On a plate of aluminium the remains were taken to a nearby sheltering hedgerow where they were buried. It has always been said that they were pitted without any
kind of ceremony. That is not correct. Earth was sprinkled on the graves, a prayer was said and a salute of honour was fired. Jacob Nielsen and my brother Jørgen
sat in the windmill of Engholm watching the burial.

The seventh crew member was found a few days later by the Jacob Nielsen, the son from "Engholm".

On 15 June the following year many local residents, members of the resistance movement in Holstebro and a Squadron of Canadian soldiers from Flensburg attended
the reburial in Idom Churchyard.
(See Photos  A * B * C)

The German sappers were unable to disarm the mines in the swamped meadow. Instead they chose to blast them off without special measures of precaution.
Gable-walls were knocked down and windows were broken in large numbers. Shop windows cracked as far away as in Struer. The explosion made a crater that
was quickly filled with water from the neighbouring brook. The bomb rack, a beam of steel about 6 metres long, flew up in the air and landed with one end deep down
into the bottom of the meadow. There it stood as a naturalistic memorial till some time in the 60's when unfortunately the brook was straightened and the meadow was drained. Today the remaining parts of it form a cross behind the graves in the churchyard.

NB. On the same minelaying operation Lancaster LM 208/M 207 Squadron was shot down near Laastrup. All 7 crew members perished.

In the sea off the Mariager Fjord  Lancaster NG143/R 207 Squadron was shot down. Neither pieces of wreckage nor any of the airmen have been found. (Yes. AS)

Near Nørre Halne Halifax MZ826 110 Squadron was hit on the return flight from "Yewtree". 6 crew members were killed. One survived. He was taken to Sweden by the resistance movement."