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Wellington III Z1615 ditched Nakskov Fjord 16/5-1942.
The aircraft belonged to RAF 9 Sqn. Bomber Command and was coded WS-H.
T/O 23:04 Honington. OP: Gardening.
On its way to the gardening area Wellington Z1615 was flying over the Nakskov
area at 60 metres altitude when Obermaat Schmidt of Fluwa 6 based near Langø
south west of Nakskov fired 25 rounds of tracer bullets from a machinegun which
hit the aircraft in the fuselage and in the left hand engine. Pilot Sgt S. Richards ditched Z1615 in 1 metres of water at Malø Grund in Nakskov Fjord at
Wellington III Z1615
Sgt S. Richards, P/O J. Simpson, Sgt R. Bell and Sgt P. Gaum RCAF were soon picked up
from the wreck by a fishingboat and taken to Nakskov, while Sgt Albert Gruchy
who had been hit by a shot thru the head was left in the wreck.
(Via Floyd Williston)
Sgt P. Gaum RCAF
Upon arrival in Nakskov the Danish police took the flyers to the hospital due to two of them
The flyers were handed over to the Wehrmacht and sent to Germany.
After being interrogated at Dulag Luft in Oberursel Simpson and Bell were sent
to Stalag Luft I Barth.
Simpson was later moved to Stalag Luft III Sagan while
Bell moved to Stalag Luft VI Heydekrug. Richards and Gaum were sent to Stalag
Luft III Sagan, then to Stalag Luft VI Heydekrug and finally to Stalag 357 Thorn
They all returned to England after the war.
The body of Sgt Albert Gruchy was retrieved from the wreck of Wellington Z1615
later on the day of the ditching and was laid to rest in Svinø cemetery on
The lifeboat from the aircraft
Above pictures from Rudbjerg Lokalarkiv
The original grave
Sources: LBUK, T501, AS 22-40, Police report, BS, OLCB.
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