Mail received from Evald Sønderby on 12
September 2012 with an account and attached photos about this air crash.
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
in all of the area of this operation.
One of them had to fly low level (2,000 feet) between
(now Karup Airport (here)
and Aalborg Airport. The other had to fly high
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
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
- 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.
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.
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
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
The seventh crew member was found a few days later by the Jacob Nielsen, the son
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.
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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
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."