Lancaster crash Grønhøj 1942

Airmen.dk er en vigtig kilde om de allierede fly, der under den tyske besættelse 1940-45 faldt ned over Dansk område. En Lancaster styrtede ned tæt ved Grønhøj en landsby beliggende mellem min bopæl og arbejdsplads. Den har derfor naturligt fået min særlige interesse. Flyet ramte jorden og alle ombord blev dræbt. Hele besætningen blev begravet på Frederikshavn kirkegård, som ligger i Nordjylland langt fra Grønhøj. Der blev ikke rejst noget mindesmærke i Grønhøj for de dræbte airmen. Som årene gik og de fleste, der havde oplevet styrtet var døde og stedet hvor Lancasteren var styrtet ned var blevet tilplantet med træer.

70 år senere finder David Geddes, en nevø til en af de dræbte airmen, ud af at hans onkel var pilot under 2. verdenskrig og ligger begravet i Danmark. I hans familie var der ikke nogen, der havde omtalt de traumatiske begivenheder. Han begynder at søge oplysninger og får kontakt med folk fra Grønhøj. Der bliver skrevet i de lokale aviser og interessen bliver vakt. Der bliver indsamlet midler til en mindesten og en mindestue på Grønhøj kro. Ved indvielsen deltager David Geddes med familie og desuden mange honoratiores. Fra Flyvestation Karup laver fire fly ”Missing man formation”.


Uddrag baseret på oplysninger fra Airmen.dk:

Den 24. september 1942 kl. 19.50 forlader 27 Lancaster RAF fly Syerston på minelægnings operation ”Sweet Pea” syd for Falster.

Minelaying - Grønhøj

Arthur T. Harris suggested 1940 this use of codes:
“The dropping of magnetic mines should be called gardening. Then the mines should be called vegetables. The minelaying areas should have a letter in alphabetical order when they were pointed out. They should also have a code name with some vegetable or flower starting with the letter of the area. Then the code names of “A”, “B” and “C”
should be “Asparagus”, “Broccoli” and “Carrots”. To drop 8 mines in “B” would in the coded language be that 8 broccolis were to be planted during gardening.”

Lancaster R5679 var det eneste tab over fjendtligt område fra denne operation. Den engelske radioaflytningstjeneste kunne senere oplyse, at flyet var blevet skudt ned af en tysk natjager fra III/NJG fra Grove (Karup). Den tyske radarstation “Rabe” ved Randers fik tildelt en andel af nedskydningen. Flyet ramte jorden ved Grønhøj nord for Karup.
Alle ombord blev dræbt. Hele den dræbte besætning bliver gravlagt den 29. september 1942 på Frederikshavn kirkegård. Foto af Lancasteren kan ses på dette link fra airmendk.

Lancaster crash Grønhøj

Frederikshavn kirkegård-1

Frederikshavn kirkegård med det store kors “Cross of Sacrifice” og gravstenene for de allierede. I baggrunden kan man se tyske grave fra WW2.  Her på kirkegården hviler de fredeligt side om side.

Gravstenene for besætningen fra Lancaster R5679 på Frederikshavn kirkegård.


Som tiden går efter flystyrtet i Grønhøj og afslutning af WW2 er der ikke mange øjenvidner til det dramatiske flystyrt. Heldigvis bliver en af øjenvidnerne Gudrun Laigaard interviewet og det bliver bragt 2009 i Viborg Stift Folkeblad (se link fra Airmen.dk). David Geddes, der er nevø til en af de dræbte airmen, finder ud af at hans onkel var pilot under 2. verdenskrig og ligger begravet i Danmark. I hans familie var der ikke noget der havde omtalt de traumatiske begivenheder. Han begynder at søge oplysninger og får kontakt med folk fra Grønhøj.

Min onkel faldt ned

David Geddes søgen efter oplysninger bliver omtalt i de lokale nyheder og det giver anledning til stor interesse. Der bliver indsamlet midler til en mindesten og en RAF mindestue på Grønhøj kro.

Afsløring af mindesten GrønhøjMindestenen efter afsløringen, der havde stor deltagelse.

Afsløring af mindesten Viborg Stift Folkeblad

Omtale af afsløringen i Viborg Stift Folkeblad. Fly fra Flyvestation Karup udfører “Missing man formation” for at minde tabet af det allierede Lancaster bombefly.

David Geddes holdt denne tale ved afsløringen:

Sir Thomas Campbell, a Scottish poet,  who helped start the University of London, and was Rector of Glasgow University from 1826-9, and was buried in Poets Corner in Westminster Cathedral wrote these lines into his poems in about 1799.

“To live in hearts we leave behind, is not to die.”
 “the soul of conversation is sympathy”
“Truth ever lovely since the world began, is the foe of tyrants, and the friend of man.”

The conversation we are having today by being here concerns remembrance, truth, and sympathy. It is important that we remember, the unjust and dreadful things that start a conflict, and the sacrifices made so that good can and does prevail.

Truth is hard to find if we do not communicate well. The pain in my household over the loss of Sgt Pilot Lewis Morrison, was so great, that the events of 1942 could not be discussed at all, until after my mother had died in 2007.

If Gudrun Laigaard had not spoken to the reporter from the Viborg Stifts Folkeblad in 2009, I would never have been able to unravel the complex story that brings us all here, at last,  with clarity and truth and an acceptance of what happened 71 years ago.

And if we do not communicate with our children and grandchildren, then how can we ever expect them to have the sympathy for the truth that brings us together here today? I am particularly pleased to meet Laura and Sophie, and Max and Rex,  of a very different generation to myself, who will remember this occasion perhaps for all their lives.

When we all engaged with finding the truth about this mission, its crew, its training, and their families who meet today for the first time, we found a sympathy for these seven brave, highly trained young men who died on their first mission together. Their mission to drop parachute mines east of Kiel was successful, but they did not manage to return safely,  being detected by the radar at Randers and the Karup Grove nightfighters then being directed to intercept the Lancaster.

But this story would not have become known, but for the persistence of the dedicated Danish air-war researchers, the journalists who have run the story, and
incredibly, the eyewitnesses who have come forward. The sympathy amongst the Danish people, for remembrance of this crew, has been exceptionally impressive.
It is understandable that for a people whose land was occupied and who suffered, that remembrance here also remains strong.

So I wish on behalf of all the families of the crew, those here, those unable to be here – some in Canada, and those descendants who do not yet even know of this the event,  I wish to thank everyone who has been involved in this lovely compassionate project, those who have given time, skills, and donations – and those who have come here today,  the families who have traveled from  Britain,  our distinguished guests and dignitaries, our Danish and UK  military colleagues, the piper and the trumpeter, but –  most particularly  – Anders, Knud, Gregers, and Gerhardt of the Lancaster group who have with their friends made this happen.

“To live in hearts we leave behind, is not to die.”
“the soul of conversation is sympathy”
“Truth ever lovely since the world began, is the foe of tyrants, and the friend of man.”

This is a proud and pleasing moment, that I for one, shall remember amongst the best moments of my life.

“We will remember them . . . “

På Airmen.dk findes der links til yderlig information:

Photos and text from David Geddes.

Photos Mindestensafsløring Grønhøj 25 maj 2013.

Photos Lancaster R5679 Memorial Unveiling.

Glimt fra RAF Mindestuen på Grønhøj kro (besøg juli 2018).

 

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