Airwar over Denmark

Airwar over Denmark

 By Søren C. Flensted

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Wellington III X3815 crashed in Spandet moor on 21/9-1942.


The aircraft belonged to RAF 101 Sqn. and was coded SR-?
T/O Stradishall. OP: Gardening.


On its way to the target area X3815 was attacked over Jylland by a German night fighter piloted by Oberfeldwebel Maisch of 4./NJG 3. The Wellington started burning and crashed in a field at Spandet moor belonging to Farmer Hans Gaarde, Arnum at 23:29 hours.
 
Two crew members managed to leave the burning Wellington before it hit the ground. One of them was Wop/Air Gnr. Sgt Gordon L. Otter RNZAF who at approx. 00:30 approached a farm belonging to Farmer Petersen not far from the crash site. The farmer`s son called the Parish Executive Officer who in turn called the police station in Ribe. Two police constables were detailed to pick Otter up. They found him sitting in the kitchen on the farm and were ordered by phone to take him to the German Wehrmacht in Ribe. They were however stopped near Høm by members of the Wehrmacht who demanded to have Otter handed over to them right away. This happened and the police constables were then told to lead the Germans to the crash site.

At 08:45 in the morning the Parish Executive Officer reported to the police that a flyer had approached Farmer Laurids Christensens farm at Spandet Mark at 06:00 hours. Two constables drove to the location and found Air Observer P/O Charles H. Mitchell RCAF on the farm. He was taken to Arnum Nykro and handed over to the Wehrmacht. On 23/9 the two airmen were sent to Fliegerhorst Flensburg and on to Dulag Luft in Oberursel on the very same day. After a while Otter was passed on to Stalag VIIIB / 344 Lamsdorf and Mitchell went to Stalag Luft III Sagan.

A Luftwaffe salvage team from Flensburg under the command of Feldwebel Jürslein arrived and started to collect the remains of the crew. These were laid to rest in Åbenrå cemetery at 08:00 hours in the morning of 26/9-1942 as Paterson and Butcher in grave 6 row 2.The Germans now collected the main parts of the Wellington and then left for Flensburg.

A Danish explosives expert team under the command of Kaptain Nørgaard arrived to clear the crash site of two mines which Sgt Otter had informed would be in the wreckage. Since the Wellington had gone deep into the soft ground it was necessary to do quite a lot of digging.
 
On 5/10 the team found one more body. It was handed over to Leutnant Skade from the Wehrmacht based in Haderslev who took the body to Åbenrå cemetery where it was laid to rest on 7/10-1942 at 07:30 in the morning. No grave number given. There is no mentioning of this burial in the German list of flyers resting in Åbenrå.

The German list states that Rowe was laid to rest on 8/10 in grave 5 row 1.

On 13/10 the Danish work team found the body of Wop/Air Gnr. F/Sgt Edwin J. Rowe as identified by his dog tag. Leutnant Skade also took this body to Åbenrå where it was laid to rest on 15/10-1942 in grave 7 row 2. The German list states that a person named Egon was laid to rest in that grave on this day.
 
There is quite a difference between the statements of the Danish police and that of the Wehrmacht.

The crew members who lost their lives and rest in Åbenrå cemetery are Pilot S/Ldr Victor R. Paterson DFC, Wop/Air Gnr. F/Sgt Edwin J. Rowe and Air Gnr. F/O Raymond E.N. Butcher RAAF.

 

 

 

 



Sources: RL 19/454, AS 67-61, LBUK, UA, BÅ, BCL, Police report.

 

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