Airwar over Denmark

Airwar over Denmark

 By Søren C. Flensted

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Lancaster I ME726 crashed at Gamtofte 16/5 1944.


The aircraft belonged to RAF 576 Sqn. Bomber Command and was coded UL-X2.
T/o 22:08 Elsham Wolds. OP: Gardening Kiel Bay


The Lancaster was attacked by a German night fighter over Assens and crashed in the village of Gamtofte on the island of Fyn at 00:50 hours. The night fighter belonged to 10./NJG 3 and was piloted by Feldwebel Günter Holtfreter.

The Lancaster fell in the garden of the vicarage and one of the mines onboard exploded.

Part of the fuselage


 
Apparently the aircraft had separated in the air since the empennage and engines and part of a wing was found up to 3 kilometres from the crash site. The whole crew died.

The Wehrmacht collected the human remains and buried them in Assens cemetery on 16/5 1944 at 23:00 hours without ecclesiastical assistance.

The crew were Pilot F/Lt Ernest J. Presland DFC, Pilot P/O Albert E. Slade, Flt. Engr. Sgt Alan W. Knapp, Navigator F/O Mark L. Abramson RCAF, Air Bomber F/O Charles Ashcroft, W/Op Sgt Benjamin J. Hudson, Air Gnr. Sgt Robert E. Leatham and Air Gnr. Sgt Arthur G. Wright DFM.

 


                      (Via Finn Buch)

Pilot F/Lt Ernest J. Presland DFC

 


       (Kathy Hooper)

Air Gnr. Sgt Arthur G. Wright DFM

 


         (Library and Archives Canada RG24 vol 24714)

Navigator F/O Mark L. Abramson RCAF

 


       (Brian Slade)

Pilot P/O Albert E. Slade

 


                           (Via Ole Kraul)

Wreckage in Gamtofte


The tail

 


                        (Via Finn Buch)

 


                        (Via Finn Buch)


By a miracle no villagers were killed and only three were wounded. The vicarage and the home of the Bell ringer and the home of Widow Juhl were destroyed as was two farms belonging to the estate “Brahesborg”.

The church and eight farms were badly damaged and a number building more or less damaged. Two farms belonging to Farmer Maren Christoffersen and Farmer Dideriksen burned down.

At dawn the Wehrmacht found three unexploded mines 250 metres from the crash site and disarmed these.
 


                          (Via Museet for Danmarks Frihedskamp)

An unfortunate crewmember

An unfortunate crewmember


                        (Via Museet for Danmarks Frihedskamp)

An unfortunate crewmember

 

The crashsite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assens cemetery

 


Sources: LBUK, AS 31-127, CWGC, UA, TB.

 

 

A visit to Gamtofte and Assens.

During a search of this website to learn about the fate of her uncle, Sgt Arthur George Wright DFM, Kathy Hooper exchanged a good number of e-mails with me.  She subsequently very kindly sent a photo of Sgt Wright giving me the sole authority to publish this unique image of her uncle.

This series of contacts led to the thought of Kathy actually visiting the crash site and then go on to see the cemetery where Sgt Wright rests.

It followed that Kathy and her husband Brian Hooper decided to visit Denmark and arrived in Billund Airport on 3rd March 2012.  After meeting them in the airport we had breakfast at my private address and then travelled by car to the crash site in Gamtofte village. Here we saw the crash-site memorial to the crew of the Lancaster, which was quite a moving moment for Kathy.  After spending some time by the memorial we walked around the village, our thoughts going back to the 16th of May 1944.

 

 

Where the mine exploded

 

 

 

Afterwards we moved on to the cemetery in the town of Assens where we easily found the graves of the crew. Before getting there Kathy wanted flowers for the grave so we stopped at a florist. Once in Assens Cemetery, Kathy laid the flowers reverently on her uncle's grave and was left alone to collect her thoughts.  

 

 

 

 

It was comforting to see that the graves were in a very good condition, made possible as always by the Cemetery authorities and not least the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Afterwards we had coffee by the harbour and then returned to Billund. After a couple of hours there, Kathy and Brian were taken to Billund airport to catch their plane back to the UK.

 

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