Came down in Thy 70 years ago   1   2   3   4   5     På dansk     Sgt Schrenk and Obl Müller     Updated:  03 MAR 2014

Came down by parachute in Thy on this day 70 years ago   
Article in the Thisted Dagblad on Saturday 22 February 2014 - a part of NORDJYSKE

(See the original layout and a map of Thy in the NW part of Denmark with Thisted on both maps.)   

Foes became friends: TV/Midt-Vest made an American air gunner
and a German fighter pilot meet in consequence of yearlong efforts
by a Danish part time historian to establish a connection between
the two World War II enemies.

By Villy Dall

Lester Schrenk in Thy in 2008. Photo from the Thisted Dagblad.

This Saturday 70 years ago an American B17 bomber crashed in a field close to Kousted Møllegaard near Sønderhaa after the 10 crew members had
bailed out.

Together with other bombers this plane was heading for the base in England after the formation had refrained from bombing Aalborg Airfield through the cloud cover.
An important aim of the flight was to draw German attention away from targets in Germany that were bombed during the same operation. (See Aalborg in Denmark
and German affairs at the Aalborg Defence and Garrison Museum.)

Over the North Sea the bombers were chased by a German JU-88 fighter from Karup. The pilot shot down one bomber and also hit another causing it to try to make
landfall - a flight of about 20 minutes due east (it crashed about here). 

The question from the pilot to the navigator about the distance was the first the young ball turret gunner Lester Schrenk, a farm boy from Minnesota, heard about
his plane (B17 42-31377  Pot O'Gold) being hit by the Germans, as the enemy had come from above. (Lester Schrenk wrote The day of my capture.)

The now 90 year-old Lester Schrenk of Bloomington, Minnesota, visited Thy 6 years ago. He visited Svankjær Efterskole (here) - then the school of Hvidbjerg Vesten Å.
In 1944 he and 8 mates of a crew of 10 were taken there, as it was the local HQ of the German Wehrmacht.

The last mate was the second pilot William R. Lavies. Instead of landing in a field he unfortunately landed in the Lake Ove and crashed through the thin layer of
ice near the mouth of the stream to Lake Roddenbjerg (about here). He froze to death in the cold water. He might have been saved if the Germans had allowed
neighbours to rescue him earlier, eye witnesses then thought. When Lester Schrenk visited Svankjær in 2008 he laid a wreath on Lake Ove in memory of
William R. Lavies, in 1944 his best friend, so Schrenk also had to make a formal identification of the body of Lavies.
(See På sporet af Pot o´Gold On the Track of Pot o´Gold (film, 23 min.) -
In Danish, but with many sequences with Lester Schrenk. See ID + Lester Schrenk.)