Report on the Rescue of Two American Airmen Updated: 02 APR 2019
Svend Ohrt-Johansen, Ribe to his great-cousin Finn Lausen,
Ribe on 6 February 2012.
On 9 February 2012 sent to Anders Straarup to be included in his website www.airmen.dk. Adapted by Anders Straarup.
See B17 44-6461 * Russell S. Bodwell * John Kozdeba See also Russell S. Bodwell's Narrative of Events.
Report on the Rescue of Two American Airmen After Bailing Out South of Gram Told by Men From the Resistant Movement, Gram
On February 26, 1945, at about 5 pm, an aerial combat was fought between a B-17 bomber and two German fighters south of Gram. The B-17 had two out of four engines damaged over Berlin during a raid and therefore was unable to follow the other planes back to England. During the combat near Gram, the last engines were spoiled so the crew (nine men) had to bail out. (B17 44-6461 crashed here.)
The men of the Resistance Movement, that happened to be at home when this took place, immediately started out in different directions to try to find and rescue the airmen. Peter Lausen went west (toward Tiset) on his bike. Chresten Petersen drove his truck south (toward Toftlund), Hans Timmermann got Karl Müller's bike and went east (toward Kastrup). Karl Müller jumped onto one of the German patrol cars and told them to go toward Vojens to lead them on a wrong track and, in that way, gain time.
At Kastrup inn, Karl Müller jumped off the patrol car under the pretense of being obliged to go home to look after his shop. At the inn, Hans Timmermann was waiting for him with his bike, which he grabbed and went to Aalkĉr as he had seen a parachute go down there, close to a farm. About 500 m[eters] further north, one of the airmen had dropped down. Quite a lot of people were gathered there; they had helped the American into a smaller farm where he was placed on a mattress, he had broken his left leg. Karl Müller told hint that he couldn't help him as the Germans could be expected any moment. Shortly after, they came and took the American to Gram School. What happened to this airman nobody knows.
Later the men from the resistant movement met outside the bus station. Only one of them, Chreston Petersen, had something good to tell, Christian (a brother of Peter's) and the others now made plans for what could be done. They hoped to be able to start the Americans off for Sweden,
As one American was tall and the other short, Peter (tall) and Karl (short) each put on an extra suit. Chresten was to put a bike on his truck and go to Stenholtgaard, Peter and Karl were to go to the same place on [their] bikes. They had arranged to be at a stack of straw, south of Stenoltgaard at 8 p.m. Peter and Karl waited for 10 minutes, then Chresten came on [his] bike. It had not been possible to pass the German guard with the truck, Karl strolled past the construction shanty to make sure everything was alright. He signaled to Peter and Chresten to come and help the Americans out of the shanty and take them to the stack to undress, Chresten was told to tell them to come out as they had already seen him earlier that day. Chresten and the airmen went on the three bikes to Peter's house in Gram. Peter and Karl walked to Gram, being stopped more than once by German patrols.
In the meantime Christian had got hold of Hans Timmermann and Age Rasmussen. They wanted Hans as an interpreter and they wanted Age and Chresten to lead the Americans to Erik Larsen, who lived alone in the forester's house at Agerskov between Fole and Grain. But first they had something to eat, which, supplemented by a bottle of schnapps procured by Hans, made life much easier.
Later that night the airmen were led through the meadows, crossing a small river and the forest of Gram to Agerskov, where they spent two days. Chresten stayed with them and Karl brought dinner from his wife, Didde. The food was hidden in a radio box. In the evening on February 28th Age Jensen and Rosendahl [of] Rodding came by request from Gram, to take over and arrange the further transport of the Americans to Sweden. Blom Roddin made identity cards for the two Americans so that they were ready to leave Rodding on March 1st, by bus heading for Jels, Vamdrup og Kolding
[Age Jensen reported] "From Kolding we continued by train to Fredericia, On arrival here we found that several people from the resistance movement had been caught by the Gestapo, so Rosendal had to look for a new link to other resistance people. He found an unknown organist who helped us. I was given the job of looking after the two "deaf-and dumb', we went to see a film,"
"Meanwhile the organist had made contact with some people from the railway staff connected to the resistance movement. Now the journey could continue as shown on the map which we would like you to have."