Airwar over Denmark

Airwar over Denmark

 By Søren C. Flensted

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Lancaster III LM268 crashed Ørslev Kohave 12/9 1944.


The aircraft belonged to RNZAF (RAF) 75 Sqn. Bomber Command and was coded AA-D.
To 19:35 Mepal OP: Gardening Danzig Bay.


After having dropped the mines as ordered in Danzig Bay LM268 headed back towards England. When about to cross the coast near Vordingborg on the island of Sjælland just before midnight it was attacked by a German night fighter at 20.000 feet and caught fire.
Burning fuel was pouring from the tanks into the fuselage and the heat was unbearable. Flight engineer Sgt Colin R. Fowler and Bombardier F/O David J.R. Wilcox went to the front escape hatch which was jettisoned by Wilcox. At that point Pilot F/O Wilson O. Hadley was still at the helm.
Wilcox put on his parachute but due to the heat and lack of oxygen he was not able to strap it properly on and jumped with just the left hand clip attached.
Wilcox lost consciousness and only came too when he landed in a field belonging to “Lundegaarden” farm just east of Ørslev. Only attached to the parachute by the left clip made him hit the ground rather heavily, injuring his right shoulder. He was in pain and injected himself with a tube of morphine. It did not help much, and he left his chute where he had landed and found a cow stable where he laid in some hay to rest.

Next to bail out was Fowler. When floating down he noticed that his watch showed 00:05 hours. He landed in a field belonging to Farmer Lars Hansen near Ellerød. He hid his chute underneath a hedge and started running away from the place. His instructor back at the base had told the flyers to look for a church as the chances of getting assistance there should be better than any other places. He actually managed to get to Ørslev church and sat in the cemetery leaning against the church.

Fowler and Wilcox were the only flyers who managed to get out before it crashed to the ground at Ørslev Kohave killing all onboard. Apart from Pilot Wilson Hadley they were Navigator P/O John B. Gudgeon, W/Op F/Sgt John P.A. Giles, Mid upper gunner F/Sgt William V. Boyd and Tail gunner F/Sgt John M. Biggar.

 


                              (Via Michael Laursen)

 


The Lancaster crashed into a farm belonging to Carl Pommersgaard and exploded on impact and razed the farm with the ground. Carl Pommersgaard and his wife Edith, daughters Edith and Gerda and son Leo who were in the house all died.

 


                      (Via Michael Laursen)

The wreckage

 


                          (Via Michael Laursen)

The Pommersgaard farm

 


                             (Via Michael Laursen)

The Pommersgaard family

 


                                (Via Michael Laursen)

The Pommersgaard family has been laid in coffins


 
On the afternoon of 12/9 the bodies of the Pommersgaard was laid in white coffins and taken to the chapel at Ørslev church. On 16/6 they were laid to rest in Ørslev cemetery.

On 12/9 the Wehrmacht retrieved the remains of three flyers from the crash site. They were put in sacks and taken to Svinø cemetery where they were buried on 13/9 1944. The flyers were F/S Boyd, Giles and Gudgeon.

 



                                      (Via Michael Laursen)

 

On 21/9 the charred remains of F/S Biggar and F/O Hadley were excavated from the crash site and taken to Ørslev cemetery where they were buried.
On 24/9 1944 Vicar P. Højer-Christensen officiated at the graveside ceremony held after sermon.
 

 


                                     (Via Michael Laursen)

F/S Biggar
 


                                    (Via Michael Laursen)

 

 

At dawn Wilcox got out of the stable and saw a nearby house. He decided to contact the farmer and started to throw plums at the windows to awake him. An elderly couple opened the window and after some discussing he convinced them that he was an allied flyer and was asked in. They tended his wounds and called the Danish police.
They took him to the hospital in Vordingborg where his arm and shoulder were taken care of. After a while a couple of Germans arrived and Wilcox was taken to a solitaire room where he stayed until mid morning. Four German soldiers arrived and carried him out.


                                (Via Michael Laursen)


Wilcox thought that this was the end, but he was brought to a German Lazarett where his arm was placed in a system of strings and wires which he carried for a rather long time.
Three days after his capture Wilcox was sent to Germany by truck, ship and train. He was sent to Dulag Luft at Oberursel for interrogation.
After a short interrogation he was put on a truck with six badly burned American flyers and taken to the hospital Reserve Lazarett Kuranstalt Hohemark about a kilometre west of Dulag Luft along the Hohemarkstrasse.
After about a week he was taken to a receiving centre where he and other prisoners were held until there was enough for a transport to the POW camps. After a while he was sent by truck and train to Stalag Luft III Sagan near Bankau.
On 26/12-44 the prisoners were informed that they should prepare to leave the camp and was sent on a march that would last for three weeks.
Finally they arrived at the overfilled Luckenwalde POW camp where Wilcox would spend the remaining time of the war. Suddenly one morning the German guards had left and the Russians arrived.
The Russians kept the prisoners in the camp for another week before they allowed them to return to the west bank of the river Elbe.
From there they were taken to Brussel and after a couple of days Wilcox was flown back to England. He was sent to Brighton where the RNZAF had a reception centre for returned POW`s. After a visit to a dentist and a doctor he was sent to an orthopaedic specialist and finally ended up in a RAF hospital in Rawceby where his shoulder was operated on.
After recuperation in Loughborough he was sailed to New Zealand onboard the ship “Andes”.

 


                                (Via Michael Laursen)

Flight engineer Sgt Colin R. Fowler



Fowler stayed in the cemetery all night and in the morning he watched Gravedigger Frederik Petersen unlock the church and addressed him. Petersen did not understand English but gestured for Fowler to enter the church and then went for help. He contacted teachers Lottrup and Walter Gjøl who he found in the school yard where Lottrup were organizing the local Civil Air Defence. They told Petersen to leave the flyer in the church and promised to get there shortly.
When they arrived they found a quite nervous Fowler who apart from minor burns on a chin and a brushed knee seemed to be unharmed. The teachers did not speak English and Erik Christensen was called for and Fowler expressed a wish to get to Sweden
At this point some of the neighbours to the church had showed up and it was decided to get some civilian clothes for the flyer as well as some Danish money.
It was then decided that Christensen would lead Fowler through the forest to Skallerup and show him the road to København. To make it look natural Fowler was given an old bicycle.
Grocer Erling Hansen and his brother in law Ib Smith (A policeman who had gone under ground) heard about the flyer when they were on a tour to buy eggs on the farms decided to find him and help him. They found him and hid him on the truck body between the eggs and drove him to Næstved. That was as far as they had permission to drive the truck. At the train station Smith bought a ticket for København for Fowler and made sure that he got on the right train.
 


                                   (Via Michael Laursen)

Police constable Jørgen Gunnar

Fowler arrived in København at 19:30 hours, walked around for a while, sat down on a bench at the Head train station and fell asleep. He woke up when a Danish police constable shook him and talked to him. After a while Fowler admitted that he was English and the police constable, whose name was Jørgen Gunnar, took him to the police station and placed him in a cell.
Police constables Helmer Kvist and Peter Sinding heard about the flyer in the cell and decided to bring him to a rented room at Vesterbrogade 23 where Fowler was put to bed.
 


                                   (Via Michael Laursen)

Police constable Helmer Kvist


On the next day Criminal investigator Bilbo arrived and talked to Fowler. Quite a few people were uneasy with Fowler as he had been found next to the German MP HQ and were not able to tell where he had crashed. On top of this he had left the room when left alone and had gone down on the street to watch life there. Some of the police constables involved believed that he was a German agent and talked about liquidating him.
Apparently Bilbo`s meeting with Fowler had cleared that problem and on the evening of 14/9 he was sent to Sweden. On the evening of 27/9-1944 he was flown back to England in the bomb bay of a Mosquito.
 


                                  (Via Michael Laursen)

Criminal investigator Bilbo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Sources: Michael Laursen, W 208/3324, LBUK.

 

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