Airwar over Denmark

Airwar over Denmark

 By Søren C. Flensted

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Lancaster III W4988 crashed Larös North West of Helsingborg, Sweden 4/9 1943.


The aircraft belonged to RAAF (RAF) 460 Sqn Bomber Command and was coded AR-Q.
T/o 19:57 Binbrook. Op: Berlin.


While over Berlin the aircraft was caught by several searchlights and attacked by German night fighters and the port outer engine caught fire but Pilot F/O Francis Archibald Randall RAAF managed to get away and by stopping the engine minimising the fire. Shortly after W4988 was caught in the light of flares dropped by the fighters and once again attacked. This time the starboard outer engine caught fire and a fire started in the fuselage just aft of the mid-upper turret. The burning engine was stopped and the fire died. During the combat the Bomb aimer P/O Lindsay Grafton Greenaway RAAF had left the Lancaster in parachute over Berlin. With only two good engines Randall asked navigator F/S Norman James Conway RAAF for a course to take them across Denmark on the return flight. He then changed his mind and asked for a course for Sweden. When they sighted the east coast of Sjælland and could see the lights in Sweden the fire in the starboard engine started again and Randall ordered the crew to bale out. The first to leave the Lancaster was Flt. Engr. Sgt Arthur Hilton Johns, Wop Sgt Allen John O`Brian RAAF and Rear Gunner F/S Harry Knight Ward RCAF. Then navigator F/S Conway left.
Mid-upper gunner Sgt Herbert Bell  parachute had been laying in the fuselage and had been damaged by bullets from the nightfighter. Randall told Bell to unpack it to see that it was not too badly damaged. Bell then jumped with the unpacked parachute folded in front of his chest. When the parachute unfolded the lines tangled round his neck and injured him. Randall left the plane as the last person.

Greenaway landed in Berlin and was made POW. After Dulag Luft he was sent to Stalag Luft III Sagan. He was released on 2/5 1945.

Johns landed in a garden near Esrum in Denmark. He had immediately started to move towards the coast to try to get to Sweden. He met a woman who asked if he was English which he conformed. (He was wearing his uniform). She took him to her home and after a couple of days he was picked up by Claus Bremer who took him to the house of Erling Peter Andreasen. Arrangements was then made for escape to Sweden. On the evening of Saturday 11/9 Bremer, Andrasen and Johns met with Poul Helmuth Andersen at Aalsgaarde village on the coast of Øresund. Andersen had arranged for a boat and at 01:30 hours they left Denmark and started rowing towards Sweden which they reached at 05:30 hours. They made land fall at Krapperup, walked to the railway station and got on the train for Hälsingborg. After having had contact with the police they were allowed to stay in a hotel. On 13/9 at 20:50 hours Johns left for Stockholm by train and on 29/9 he was repatriated to England.

O`Brian landed in a field next to Poppelalle 78 in Hareskovby. When the air raid alarm sounded the owner of Poppelalle 78 went outside to see what was going on and saw something white in the field. He walked over to investigate and found it to be a parachute with O`Brian sitting next to it. O`Brian followed him to the house. In the morning the owner went to the local grocery store and at 07:25 he called the Danish police and informed them about what had happened. Three police constables were sent to pick up O`Brian and take him to the police station. They then informed the Commandant Major Dr. Simon of Fliegerhorst Værløse who asked to have O`Brian delivered to the air field. The police duly did that. O`Brian was sent to Dulag Luft at Oberursel near Frankfurt for interrogation and on to Stalag IVB Mühlberg a.d. Elbe where he stayed for the rest of the war. On 23/4 1945 he was liberated by Russian troops.

Ward landed on the rail road line between København and Hillerød near Hammersholt. By the landing he hit his head and was unconscious for a period of time. In the morning he was captured by the Germans and taken to Værløse air field. Together with O`Brian he was sent to Germany to Dulag Luft and Stalag IVB from where he was released on 23/5 1945.

Conway jumped 5th and is believed to have landed in the sea off Sjælland and to have drowned. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

 


  (Christine Bubery nee Bell)

Navigator F/S Norman James Conway RAAF



Bell and Randall landed in the Øresund on the Danish side. Randall disengaged his chute, inflated his Mae West and started swimming towards Sweden. After half an hour he saw a boat and shouted. A little later he was picked up by the motor schooner “Hilda” of Hven and next Bell, who at this time was on the point of exhaustion and hyperthermia, was picked up. The boat searched for Conway but did not find him and thus set course for Sweden.

 


  (Christine Bubery nee Bell)

Randall and Bell in Landskrona

 


  (Christine Bubery nee Bell)

Bell in Landskrona.

 


  (Christine Bubery nee Bell)

Bell and Randall in Stockholm

 

Bell spend three days in hospital before transfer to Framby camp. On 29/9 1943 they were dressed in thermal electrically heated suits, loaded into the bomb bay of a Mosquito operated by BOAC and repatriated to England together with Johns.
After returning to England Randall continued operations and on 16/12 1943 he was killed when his aircraft hit some threes and crashed into a wood near Market Stainton south of Leoth, England at approx. 23:50 returning from a mission to Berlin. The whole crew perished.

The aircraft crashed near Laröd, Sweden at 01:15 hours. It disintegrated at 200 feet and wreckage was spread over a wide area.

 


  (Christine Bubery nee Bell)

Bell after return to UK

 


  (Christine Bubery nee Bell)

Mid-upper gunner Sgt Herbert Bell

 


  (Christine Bubery nee Bell)

Pilot Randall after training school


 

Sources: OLCB, LBUK, AS 3-451, CWGC, Department of Defence, Canberra, Report Hälsingborg police, Flyhistorisk Tidsskrift, Christine Bubery nee Bell.

 

Night of the 3. and 4. September 1943

Lancaster III EE138 shot down 4/9-1943 near Stadil

Stirling III BK774 crashed in the North Sea / Skagerak 4/9-1943

Lancaster III W4988 crashed Larös North West of Helsingborg, Sweden 4/9 1943

Lancaster III JA713 crashed in the sea of Kattegat off Tunø 4/9 1943


 

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