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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
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.
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
Halifax MZ805 crashed in the sea east
of the island of Langeland 12/1 1945
Halifax III NP947 crashed in Flensburg
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
Back to 1945
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