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Spitfire XI PM142 crashed in Langelandsbælt 9/5 1945.
The aircraft belonged to 400 sqn RCAF and was coded ??
F/Lt P.G. Wigle and F/Lt Lawrence McMillan RCAF were on a shipping recce over the Danish waters.
The Spitfires were heading south when they at 16:56 hrs observed a convoy of four German ships in the Langelandsbælt 1 mile off Spodsbjerg on the island of Langeland.
F/Lt Wigle led the two Spitfires down to sea level and passed within 100 yards of the ships on the port side. All four ships were flying the Nazi flag and three of the ships were loaded with troops.
Wigle noticed the name “Ubena” on the second ship in line. The Spitfires continued around to the starboard side of the ships still flying at about 50 feet.
At 17:00 hrs Wigle saw his no. 2 explode in mid air in a large sheet of flames and plunge into the sea. At the same time Wigle observed machine gun strikes in the sea. He climbed to 4500 feet and circled the position but could not observe any debris whatsoever. Only a oil slick could be seen on the water.
Danish fishermen sailed to the site but all that could be seen was an oil slick on the surface.
Neither the aircraft nor Pilot F/Lt Lawrence McMillan has ever been found and McMillan is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Pilot F/Lt Lawrence McMillan
Pilot F/Lt Lawrence McMillan with his Spitfire
NOTE: The war in Europe had ended on 8/5 and the German ships that apparently shot down the Spitfire were returning to Germany.
From German side the above is recorded:
A convoy with refugees from the East headed by the Hilfskreuzer “Hansa” left Copenhagen on 8/5 at 18:00 hours and set course for Kiel. Number two ship in the convoy was “Ubena” under command of Captain Lanhau.
The convoy headed north, passed Kronborg and set course for Kattegat and Store Bælt. After Store Bælt they entered Langelands Bælt at at 17:00 hrs two Spitfires was seen flying around the conwoy at very low level.
Suddenly one Spitfire touched the water and exploded while the other immediately started climbing and disappeared. The incident was reported to the bridge who in turn reported to the Naval command via radio. At the same time light flak was manned just in case the other Spitfire pilot might believe that his comrade had been shot down.
Later on the same evening the convoy reached Strander Bucht near Kiel where they cast anchor.
A motor launch with a British commando came alongside Ubena and Kapitän Lankau along with a Oberst of the Luftwaffe and a Oberstleutnant of the Infantry was take ashore for questioning of the Spitfire crash. After questioning they were taken to the Erholungsschiff für Offiziere “Oranjefontein” where they were locked up for the next week.
Eventually they were brought before a British Military Court where they were acquitted of the charges brought against them and released.
Sources: Karen Blais, “The Price of Peace” by Colin Cummings, Fyrdirektoratet, “Circumstantial Report” via Andy Fletcher, “Ubena” rettung über see” by Kurt Gerdau and “Kameraden zur See” both via Flemming Hansen.
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