Lancaster III JB412 crashed near Varnæs 29/1-1944.
The aircraft belonged to RAF 83 Sqn Bomber Command and was coded OL-B.
T/o 00:19 Wyton OP: Berlin.
While outbound JB412 was attacked by a JU 88C night fighter of II./NJG 3 with
the crew of Pilot Hauptmann Gerhard Raht, Funker Feldwebel Anton Heinemann and
Bordmechaniker Unteroffizier Werner Hesse and controlled by the radar station
“Star” based at Lütjenhorn in Northern Germany. At 02:37 the Lancaster exploded
in the air and the wreckage were spread over a radius of 2½ kilometres just
north of the village of Varnæs.
(Via Karen Austin)
During the morning the surviving flyers and their parachutes began to show up.
There were reports of parachutes found at Tråsbøl, Brobøl, Ullerup and Bovrup.
In a field near Bovrup was found a dead flyer and his parachute. In the same
area was found a dead flyer without parachute.
At 07:32 hours W/O John Fell knocked on the door at a farm in Rufas near Ullerup. The flyer was
picked up by the Wehrmacht.
A flyer landed in parachute on the roof of the house next to the telephone
exchange at Skoletoften 12 in Blans. It was Pilot William Simpson who hurt his
forehead when falling from the roof. He was taken to the exchange and had the
wound dressed. No one of those Danes present had any command of the English
language but Simpson still tried to persuade them into hiding him. Due to there
being quite a lot of German sympathizers in the village no one dared hiding him.
Apparently someone had seen him and at 09:20 two German soldiers arrived on a
motorcycle and picked him up.
At 14:23 F/Sgt William Livesay came to the farm Ballegård in Blans. He was picked up by the
Air Bomber P/O Ronald Pilgrim landed near Ullerup and hid in a shack belonging
to the Vicarage. When evening came he sneaked into the barn. Here he was found
around nine o`clock by the son of Reverend Warncke. The Reverend was admitted to
the hospital, but Mrs. Warncke tried to find a way to help the flyer. She called
Reverend Sjellerup of Nybøl and together they tried to find a way out.
They did not have any luck and as a last resort they called the Chief Constable
Bjerre of Gråsten. He however declared that he would inform the Wehrmacht where
they could pick Pilgrim up.
Pilgrim was along with the rest of the crew sent to Dulag Luft at Oberursel near
Frankfurt an Main where he arrived on 31/1 and stayed until 3/2 when he was sent
to Stalag Luft III. He arrived on 6/2-1944 and stayed until 28/1-1945 when he
was sent to MARLAG/MILAG Tarmstedt where he arrived on 4/2. He was liberated on
Simpson arrived in Dulag Lufton 31/1-1944 and stayed until 5/2 when he was
sent to Stalag Luft II Sagan where he arrived on 8/2. He stayed until 12/2-1945
when he was sent to Stalag XIII o Nürnberg where he arrived on 17/2. On 4/4-1945
he was sent to Stalag VII A Moosburg where he stayed from 13/4 until liberation
on 29/4 1945.
Livesay was transferred from Dulag Luft after questioning and arrived at
Stalag Luft I Barth on 13/2 1944. He stayed until liberation on 1/5 1945.
Fell left Dulag Luft and arrived at Stalag Luft VI Heydekrug on 13/2 and
stayed until 15/4 1944 when he was sent to Stalag Luft IV Kiefeheide where he
arrived on 19/4 and stayed until 6/2 1945. On 26/3 1945 he arrived in Stalag IIB
Fallingbostel where he stayed until liberation on 8/4 1945.
(Via Karen Austin)
Click on image to enlarge (Link will open in a new window)
John R. Tree is in the second back row, 8th from the right.
The two dead flyers found near Bovrup were Flt. Engr. Sgt Thomas K. McCash and
Navigator F/S John J. Martin. They were both laid to rest in Aabenraa cemetery
on 2/2 1944.
The third casualty Air Gnr. F/Sgt John R. Tree RAAF had landed in the
sea and was found drowned in Alssund near Sønderborg on 19/6 and was laid to rest in
cemetery on 22/6 1944.
Sources : AS 70-361, Report Aabenraa police, LBUK, BCL, BA, John Vaupel, CWGC,
Heinemann, Nonnenmacher file, WO 344/187/2 & /160(2) & /288/2 & 253/1.
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