Lancaster X KB751 crashed in the sea south west of the
island of Sejrø 17/8 1944.
The aircraft belonged to RCAF (RAF) 428 Sqn. Bomber Command and was coded NA-Q.
T/o Middleton St George. OP: Stettin.
The outbound trip went according to schedule, and the bomb load was dropped at
approximately 01:20 hours and Pilot F/O William C. Fairgrieve headed back to
base. After about 50 minutes Bomb Aimer F/O Harry Slater, who was throwing out
windows called on the intercom: Skipper there is a vertical light off to port”.
Next there was a terrific crashing noise and the Lancaster started burning.
Apparently they had been attacked by a German night fighter. Fairgrieve was hit
in the face and Flt. Engr. R. E. Toomey realised that they had to get out of the
aircraft in a hurry. Slater was the first to bail out while Toomey tried to
reach W/op Robert R. Boyce on the intercom before bailing out him selves.
At 02:16 the Lancaster crashed into the sea 2 miles at 190 degree from Sejrø
Toomey blacked out when leaving the aircraft, and woke up in the water without
harness or chute being held up by his Mae West. He swam in the direction of the
lighthouse and entered the island of Sejrø at Lydebjerg.
At about 06:00 hours in the morning Karen Jensen head a noise from the front
door at her and Aksel Jensens house which is not far from the lighthouse. She
opened the door to see a wet and tired man wearing a Mae West standing outside.
Karen asked him in and put him to bed where he was given food and warm drinks.
Parish executive officer Karl Jørgensen was called for and arrived shortly after
and took Toomey with him to his home in Sejerby and put him to bed. Doctor
Bjarnov was called and he believed that Toomey might have a bend or broken
rib and recommended that he stayed in bed until the next day when he could be
transferred to the hospital.
Flt. Engr. R. E. Toomey
The leader of the local German garrison would not
allow this and ordered Toomey to get out of bed and to follow him to the German
ON 19/8 Toomey was sent to Dulag Luft for questioning and after about a week to
Stalag Luft VII Bankau.
Flt. Engr. R. E. Toomey in POW camp
During the day of 17/8 the dead body of Fairgrieve was retrieved from the sea
south west of Sejrø lighthouse by Skipper Johannes Pedersen of the ship
“Helgoland” when approaching Sejrø.
The body of Fairgrieve being carried
ashore on Sejrø
It was brought to Sejrø harbour where the
Wehrmacht took over. Fairgrieve was on 18/8 1944 buried by the Germans at Sejrø
cemetery without ecclesiastical assistance.
On 2/9 1945 a memorial stone was unveiled and a ceremony was performed by the
Parish vicar Hedegård Nielsen.
On 30/8 Tail gunner F/O Joseph R. G. Srigley was found washed ashore on Veddinge
Strand beach on the island of Sjælland. During the night of 30/31-8 the body was
placed in coffin by local Danes as well as a grave was prepared and clad with
flowers. When the German Unteroffizier and four privates arrived at 08:00
hours in the morning to bury Srigley without any ceremony they found the Parish
executive officer, the Parish cashier, the Church verger and the bell ringer
ready to carry the coffin to the grave. The Germans demanded that the flowers
were removed from the grave but accepted to have them placed on the coffin. When
the grave had been covered and the Germans had left policemen from Nykøbing S
brought a number of flowers from their car. Also the people who had found the
body brought flowers and after an hour the grave was well covered. For the rest
of the occupation there was found fresh flowers on the grave.
(Anders Bjørnvad via Ole Rønnest)
( Finn Buch)
A grave stone, paid for by the local people of the parish, was inaugurated on
May 4. 1947
On 2/9 1944 the body of F/O Harry Slater was found washed ashore on the island
of Getterön on the Swedish west coast near Varberg. He was laid to rest in
Varberg Church`s New Cemetery with full military honours.
Mid upper gunner F/S William A. Lamb, W/Op Sgt Robert R. Boyse and Navigator F/O
Leonard G. Brown have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede
(Fairgrieve via Toomey)
Slater, Lamb, Brown, Srigley, Boyce, Toomey, unknown.
The graves of Pilot F/O William C. Fairgrieve
Bombardier F/Sgt Thomas R. Dunlop from Lancaster III ND625 10/4 1944
Varberg Church`s New Cemetery
Sources: FAF, LBUK, Quistionaire for returned Aircrew, National Archives Canada,
MFS, FT, They shall grow not old” by Allison/Hayward, OLCB, Report from Chief
executive officer of Sejrø Karl Jørgensen.
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