B 17G-DL 44-6461 - Bodwell and Kozdeba to Sweden    På dansk      Updated:  02 AUG 2010

Top Turret Gunner S/Sgt John Kozdeba and Navigator 2nd Lt Russell S. Bodwell from B17 44-6461 managed to get to Sweden helped by many Danes!

See the story in Anders Bjørnvad: They found a way (De fandt en vej) about the help to allied airmen shot down over Denmark (DFEV p.154-156).

In the afternoon of 26 February 1945 people in and near Gram in Southern Jutland saw 9 airmen bail out from a burning Flying Fortress.

At once members of the resistance movement left their homes to see if it was possible to rescue some of the airmen. This search was a race with the enemy, as a company of German soldiers from Gram had been dispatched immediately on a hunt for the airmen in which they behaved like semi-savage people.

About 6 p.m Calle, Kedde, Chresten and Peder Lausen from a resistance group in Gram met. Then Chresten said that he had got hold of 2 American airmen near the meadows south of Tiset. From foreman Charles Nielsen in the the Highway Authority he had borrowed the key to a tool truck nearby. Here he had hidden the airmen.

They decided to fetch the airmen rather soon.

Each wearing two suits of clothes Calle and Peder Lausen were to go by bike to the tool truck, while Chresten was to take his truck to the spot.  However, on his
tour with the truck he was stopped time and again by German patrols to have the truck thoroughly searched. When he arrived at a place near the airmen’s hiding
place the two others had arrived already. They had a council of war and agreed that at present transport of airmen in a truck was impossible. Chresten drove home
again in his truck and came back on his bike.

Later in the evening the three men hid in a garden from which they could see the tool truck, but in the bright moonlight they saw more than that. German patrols and officious civilian Nazis continually went about in the area.

During a break in the patrolling some hours later the three of them dared to approach the truck. Everything went well. The door was unlocked and the airmen were
hurried to a stack of straw where they changed into plain clothes. Together with Chresten they then went by bike to Peder Lausen’s home, while Peder and Calle
walked there.

In the meantime Kedde had contacted a man who spoke English. He also contacted the group member Aage who made their weapons ready for use in case
German soldiers wanted to search the houses.

Dinner was served when all of them were gathered at Peder Lausen’s. Of course by then the airmen Russell Bodwell and John Kozdeba were very hungry.

During the meal Kalle came to tell them that the Germans were now using dogs in the search, and that somehow they had begun to suspect Chresten. Then Aage
and Chresten took the airmen across the fields to a fellow conspirator, Erik, who lived alone. It was a hard walk for the dead tired airmen. They stayed with Erik for
two days.

As the Germans still rushed around with their dogs the helpers decided that the airmen had to get away from the area now. As they had no instructions from Kolding
they contacted teacher Rosendal in Rødding who was the liaison man from the group to the region. (The Danish Resistance Movement was organized in 7 regions).

Finally the airmen were taken to Rødding where a representative of “the Ring” had an assembly point for airmen whose plane had crashed. Next day they were to be
taken to Fredericia. Teacher Rosendal was one of their companions.

The journey was did not go completely according to the plan. In Jels they had to wait for the bus for a long time. In Kolding they visited a priest, as it appeared that
no passenger trains left for Fredericia that day and that the bus only took people to the intermediate stations.

However, later that day the airmen and their helpers managed to enter a goods train – packed with German soldiers.

The Gestapo had just been on the go in Fredericia, so the people from Rødding had to walk about in the streets part of the afternoon. The reserve address was not
to be used until 10 p.m.

At 7 p.m. the Danish-American team went to the cinema to see a beautiful Danish film. At 10 p.m. they went to the address in question. It turned out that the wife
was sick and nervous, so the airmen were not let in. However, her husband had to join the team in their search for a new lodging. At a tall house they made a stop.
A man in a suit of pyjamas appeared on a balcony on the third floor.  Everybody was then let in. However, there was no room for visitors in the small flat. Then the
airmen were taken to a room in the attic where they shared the only bed in that room, while the helpers had to make do with the carpet in the living room.

The following day the helpers made sure that everything was ready for further transport of the airmen and they went back home.

The airmen came to Copenhagen, apparently taken to the coast of the Sound by Ib Mogens Bech Christensen from the group “1944”.

Bodwell and Kozdeba became Hendil’s passengers no. 1565 and 1566, when they sailed to Sweden with “Danish/Swedish Refugee Service” on 9 March 1945.

(DFEV p. 154-156. Here the names Dodwell and Kozdebs are used for the same 2 airmen.)