Airwar over Denmark

Airwar over Denmark

 By Søren C. Flensted

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Halifax III NR173 crashed in the sea east of the island of Als 12/1 1945.

 
The aircraft belonged to RCAF (RAF) 429 Sqn. Bomber Command and was coded AL-D.
T/o Leeming 17:18. OP: Gardening Flensburg Fjord.


After having crossed the North Sea NR173 headed for the village of Bøjden where it would turn south towards the Flensburg outer Fjord. Shortly after it had turned south it was attacked by a JU 88G-6 coded D5+AL piloted by Hauptman Eduard Schröder of 3./NJG 3 with the crew of Hessenmüller, Zeinert and Brunsendorf. They operated from Fliegerhorst Grove where they had taken off at 20:11 hours and landed back again at 21:57 hours.
 
The time was 21:02 hours. During the attack Rear gunner F/S J.G. Small called out for corkscrew port which was executed by Pilot F/L Allan R. Milner Small returned the fire. The JU 88 then broke away starboard up. The Halifax was however badly damaged with lost rudder control and flaps coming down slowly. The fuel tanks were holed and the outer right hand engine was damaged. Small now saw fighter flares and called out for corkscrews which were executed. The Halifax now dove to cloud level to take stock of the damage. Apart from the above the H2S and the mid upper turret was damaged.
The course was set for a return to England on 290 degrees. After a while the flaps had come full down and the airspeed had dropped to 115 knots and it was clear that they would not be able to reach England. Wop P/O H.L. Johnson called Hull at 21:20 for a fix of their position. At 21:35 Johnson reported the intention of abandoning the aircraft which was then fixed to be 55`20N / 08`58E which is east of the city of Ribe. They were still flying in clouds until they at 21:45 -22:00 went below it to see where they actually were. When they saw land beneath them Milner decided to abandon aircraft. Johnson, Air Bomber F/O R.H. Barnes and Mid upper gunner W/O Otto H. Sulek left thru the front hatch. Milner, Navigator F/O H.K. Frair and Engineer Sgt K. Turner is also believed to have used this while Small got out of the rear turret. They all landed on the island of Als and the Halifax is believed to have crashed in the sea east of Als.

Air Gnr.( Mid upper gunner ) F/S Otto H. Sulek landed in a snow clad field near Mommark on the island of Als. He was at large until noon next day when he walked into what he believed was a police station. Bach in England he had been told that he might get help from the Danish police (The Danish police had been arrested by the Germans in September 1944 and had been sent to German KZ camps). He talked with a man dressed in a uniform and was given food. At 14:00 hours a car with four marine soldiers arrived and Susek was taken to the German marine barracks in Sønderborg where he met the rest of the crew except Navigator F/O Ken Frair.
Apart from Sulek that was Pilot F/L Allen R. Milner, Flt. Engr. Sgt K. Turner RAF, Air Bomber F/O R.H. Barnes, W/Op WO1 H.L. Johnson and Air Gnr (Tail gunner) F/s J.G. Small. The next day they were taken to Fliegerhorst Hadersleben where they met Navigator F/O J.G. Agnew from Halifax LV998 that had crashed into Flensburg Fjord. After a couple of days they were sent by train to Dulag Luft at Oberursel near Frankfurt for interrogation. Later they were sent to a POW camp near Nürnberg where they met Ken Frair. Next they were sent to Moosburg in Bayern where they were liberated by American troops on 29/4 1945.
 


                             (William Frair)

Navigator F/O Ken Frair


With regard to the capture of the crew, the following have been told to the author by witnesses:

A flyer landed in parachute at Lysabild skov / Skovby mark and hid the chute in a nearby wood. Early in the morning he came to the front door of a house owned by the Schröder family, who were very German minded. The Flyer saw a picture of Hitler on the wall and left in a hurry. He walked over to Lysabild and knocked on the door of the house owned by Adele Hansen who directed him towards a house used by the Border Gendarme Willy Solager only about 50 metres away. Only the wife and son of the Gendarme was in the house at the time. In the meantime Marie Schröder had gone over to the German school and called the German barracks at Kegnæs and had informed the Germans about the presence of the flyer. He was captured by the Germans.

Christen Thomsen was working in the Tandsholm forest with Peter Pedersen at 08:30 hours in the morning when a flyer came walking. He was wearing a leather jacket and addressed them in English, to no avail. He then tried a little German of which they understood a little. They asked him to sit down, and shortly after the man they worked for came around. It was farmer and Parish Executive Officer Jens Jørgensen of Tandsgårde.
He spoke with the flyer and told Christen to follow the flyers foot prints in the snow to see where he had been. Christen followed the footprints back to the farm called “Domæne”. The flyer had spent some time standing in the “Domæne” fruit plantation before he had heard Christen and Peter in the forest.

They all went back to Jørgensen`s farm where they had pancakes for lunch. Every Saturday they had pancakes for lunch. Parish Executive Officer Jens Jørgensen called Mie Matthisen who owned “Domæne” (Her husband had been arrested by the Germans and sent to the KZ camp Neungamme) and was told that the flyer had been found in the barn at 05:00 hours by the herdsmans wife. The herdsman who was known to be very German minded had spoken to the flyer, and due to that Mie had been afraid to house the flyer and had sent him to the forest. Because of this, Jørgensen was afraid to house the flyer and called the German barracks in Sønderborg. The flyer was picked up by two soldiers.

On a winter evening a flyer knocked on the door of the house owned by Lars Nielsen, Kettingskov. The flyer`s leg was covered by clay. On the chest of his jacket it appeared as if a wing had been torn off. He pointed at his mouth indicating that he was hungry and was asked in and given food. The flyer had a bundle of foreign currency in one pocket. He was wearing a flyers helmet which he placed on the head of the son Erik. He was told that he could sleep in the guest room but preferred to sleep in the barn. The next morning he had left.




Sources : BCL, LBUK, JJ, Sulek, Milner, Christen Christensen, Christen Thomsen, Schröder flugbuch, Questionnaire for returned aircrew

 

Minelaying on the night of January 12/13 1945

Halifax MZ805 crashed in the sea east of the island of Langeland 12/1 1945

Halifax III NP947 crashed in Flensburg Fjord 12/1-1945

Halifax III NA201 attacked west of the city of Aabenraa 12/1 1945

Halifax III MZ812 crashed in the North Sea west of the island of Rømø 12/1 1945

Halifax III RG346 “attacked” west of the island of Rømø 12/1 1945

Halifax III NR173 crashed in the sea east of the island of Als 12/1 1945


 

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