Airwar over Denmark

Airwar over Denmark

 By Søren C. Flensted

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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 lighthouse.

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.
 


                        (Via Helme)

 Flt. Engr. R. E. Toomey taken prisoner


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 barracks.
ON 19/8 Toomey was sent to Dulag Luft for questioning and after about a week to Stalag Luft VII Bankau.

 


                         (Via Toomey)

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.

 


                      (Via Helme)

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 Memorial.

 


                     (Fairgrieve via Toomey)

Slater, Lamb, Brown, Srigley, Boyce, Toomey, unknown.

 


                          (Jens Fisker)

 


                          (Jens Fisker)

The graves of Pilot F/O William C. Fairgrieve and
Bombardier F/Sgt Thomas R. Dunlop from Lancaster III ND625 10/4 1944

 


  (Dieter Friedrick)

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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