Airwar over Denmark

Airwar over Denmark

 By Søren C. Flensted

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B 24 GR8 KH410 crashed in Torstedlund Skov Forest 21/4 1945.


The aircraft belonged to RAF 206 Sqn. Coastal Command and was coded PQ-N.
T/O 20:11 Leuchars. OP: Anti shipping patrol in Kattegat.


The B 24 crashed at Torstedlund Skov Forest south of Aalborg around midnight. The reason for the crash is not known to the author. Two of the crew were thrown clear of the wreck and were identified by their ID-cards as Lieutenant-Commander  Nicodême Guilonard of the Royal Netherlands Navy and P/O George Henry Topcliff RAAF. The wreck and the rest of the crew were engulfed in a fire that lasted until the morning. At 04:00 hours in the morning members of The Hitler Jugend based at Nørlund Manor arrived and guarded the burning wreck. In the afternoon of 21/4 a German car arrived at the home of Forester Hoppe and he was told by a German officer to show them the way to the crash site.

 


                  (Niels Nørgaard Nielsen)

 


               (Niels Nørgaard Nielsen)

 

Hoppe and the Germans drove towards the site when they were attacked by Mosquito HR405 NE-A of 143 Squadron Coastal Command piloted by F/S L.R.H. Wigg and navigated by F/S Ron H. Hawkins. They had been on an anti shipping sortie over the sea of Kattegat and had got separated from the main force. When they returned towards west Hawkins observed the car at 2 o`clock and Wigg banked round reducing height at the same time and opened up with canon and machine guns. The car ground to a halt and all doors opened and Hoppe and the Germans hurried out and ran for cover. The Mosquito narrowly missed the trees and set course for home.
Hoppe and the driver were wounded and taken to the hospital in Hobro where the driver reportedly died on the next day.

At 19:20 hours in the evening a truck with Luftwaffe soldiers from Aalborg arrived and the local onlookers was told to leave the area. The remains of the crew were buried in a shallow grave about 30 metres north of the crash site. Later in the evening the Hitler Jugend guards left and the wreck was left on the crash site.
 
After the war several searches for the bodies of the crew was staged and it was by some believed that the bodies had been taken away on the truck. But not until 14/6 1947 was the grave found and the remains disinterred. In the grave was also found a number of incendiaries.
The bodies were placed in coffins and taken to a garage at Forester Nielsen’s house in Hjortespring. Here the identification of the airmen by the British armed forces took place. Shortly before the funeral the coffins were taken to the cemetery and covered with the British flag and a wreath of flowers.

On 22/6 1947 at 16:00 hours the flyers were laid to rest in Aarestrup cemetery. Vicar H.B. Davidsen officiated at the graveside ceremony and present were Mrs. Guilonard and Group-Captain E.W.R. Sadler together with a number of English and Danish officers.
 

 


              (Ole Bang Rønnest)

 


              (Ole Bang Rønnest)

 


              (Ole Bang Rønnest)

 


              (Ole Bang Rønnest)

 


              (Ole Bang Rønnest)

 


              (Ole Bang Rønnest)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






              (Archive of the Dutch Air Historical Branch via Rob Philips)

Pilot Lieutenant-Commander Nicodême ("Nelis") Guilonard



The crew was: Pilot Lieutenant-Commander Nicodême Guilonard of the Royal Netherlands Navy, Second pilot F/O Anthony R.T. Smith, Navigator F/O Alan J. Harding, Navigator W/O G N. Topliff, W/op-Air Gnr. F/L Peter S.L. Laycock, W/op-Air Gnr. W/O William W. Spencer, W/op-Air Gnr. W/O Thomas K. Theaker, Air Gnr. W/O George C.K. Long, Air Gnr. W/O Kenneth Emery, W/Op. Mech./Air Gnr. F/S Frederick R. Orritt and Flt. Engr. P/O Windsor T. Gale.

 


           (Ann Jordan via Niels Nørgaard Nielsen)

 


           (Ann Jordan via Niels Nørgaard Nielsen)

Top row - left to right:
 F/O Laycock (Pete)  1st W/op F/O Harding (Navigator) W/O Long (A/G) LT/Comm - Guilonard (Captain) W/O Harding (Navigator) F/O Smith (2nd Pilot) W/O Spencer (3rd W/op)

Bottom row - left to right: 
W/O Theaker (2nd W/op) F/G Orritt (W/O/mech) W/O Emery (A/G) P/O Gale (Engineer)

 



On 4/8 1945 a memorial was erected on the crash site by the labours of Nørlund sawmill. This was made from a stone found locally and parts from the aircraft.


 
 

Sources: CWGC, UA, LBUK, FT, AIR 27/979, “A Separate Little War” by Andrew Bird published by Grub Street.

 

 

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