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P 51D-15-NA 44-15627 crashed near Øster Starup 11/3-1945.
The aircraft belonged to USAAF, 8 Air Force, 78 Fighter Group, 83 Fighter
Squadron and was coded HL-Q. It was named "Windy City Mama".
T/O 10:45 Duxford. OP: Bomber escort to Hamburg.
The route to Hamburg took the formation over Denmark which was covered with
clouds up to 2000 feet.
The formation stayed over the clouds and while flying at 7000 ft. over Herning
on the Jylland peninsula 1st Lt Jack D. Hodge reported at 13:30 hours that he
had a leak in the cooling system. He was told to leave the squadron and 1st Lt
Hubert Davis was assigned as escort.
First Hodge decided to try to reach England and a course of 220 degree was set
in order to stay close to the coast on the trip over the North Sea.
Just before reaching the west coast of Jylland Hodge decided that he would not
be able to make it to England and wanted to head for Sweden. They turned to 90
The engine was now running roughly with a lot of smoke coming from the exhaust
and Hodge was unable to maintain height. After about 10 minutes they were down
to 3000 ft and Hodge wanted to bail out.
There was overcast at 2000 ft and they were not able to see if they were over
land. The leader of the section who had followed them on the radio told Hodge to
take up a heading of 270 degrees and to stay with the aircraft as long as
Hodge was now down to 2000 ft and going into the clouds. Davis called and told
Hodge to bail out rather than going into the clouds but received no answer.
Hodge`s aircraft was seen from the ground coming out of the clouds with Hodge
trailing it. Apparently he had deployed his parachute too soon and had been
caught by the tail of his aircraft.
Just before the P 51 crashed into a field belonging to Farmer F. Digmann near
Øster Starup at approximately 13:45 hours Hodge was brushed clear of the
aircraft when he was caught up in a hedgerow.
1st Lt Hubert Davis dived through the clouds at the same place as Hodge and
broke clouds at 800 ft. The visibility was bad and despite circling the area he
was not able to locate neither Hodge nor his aircraft.
A doctor was called, but Hodge only lived for another 20-30 minutes before he
passed away and his body was taken to the chapel at Øster Starup Church.
The Chief Executive Officer of Øster Starup Hei Sørensen negotiated with the
Wehrmacht and managed to get permission to give Hodge a Christian funeral at
Øster Starup Cemetery.*
Jack Hodge was laid to rest in Øster Starup cemetery on 13/3 1945. Members of
the parish council carried the coffin that was covered with the American flag to
the grave and Vicar S. Gamborg-Andersen officiated at the graveside ceremony.
Hodges funeral 13/3 1945
After the war, Hodges mother decided that he should stay at the cemetery and in
appreciation of what the parish had done for her son she gave a Baptismal font
to the church.
Hodges grave as seen today
On 11/3 2005 a ceremony was held at Øster Starup cemetery. Wraths were laid by
the American Embassy, the Home Guard and by Øster Starup Parish Vestry.
Attending were Count Ingolf and Countess Susy of Rosenborg, the Military Attaché
of the American Embassy as well members of Jack Hodges family from USA and
approximately 100 local people.
After the ceremony by the grave, an orchestra from the Air Force Home Guard gave
a concert in the church.
From the ceremony 13/3 2005
* In 1944 the Germans used to throw the death allied flyers in a hole next to
the place where they were found, without coffin or ceremony.
Sources: UA, MACR, LBUK, Newspaper Vejle Amts Folkeblad.
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