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Evading in Denmark – Danish Conditions

 

Evaders versus Escapers
Evaders avoid capture by the enemy force, whereas escapers break free from enemy control and confinement.  All five of the airmen who baled out of Lancaster ME449 over Jutland on the night of 12 March 1945 evaded capture by the German occupiers in Denmark and thus were never prisoners-of-war.

Evasion statistics for Denmark
The numbers of Allied airmen landing in Denmark or adjacent waters who then eluded capture increased as the war progressed.  The increase in successful evasions was partly due to the increased likelihood that Danes would offer assistance rather than turn Allies over to German authorities.  Another major factor was the German decision to disband the Danish Police in September 1944.  Before that date, Danish Police were required to capture Allied fliers on behalf of the Germans.

Of the few airmen who landed in Denmark in the early years of the war, all became prisoners-of-war; 29 and 20 in 1940 and 1941.  Over the next 2 years, the numbers of Allied fliers landing in Denmark increased, and almost all became prisoners-of-war.  Thus, none of 119 Allied airmen on Danish soil in 1942 evaded and only 9 of 126 in 1943.  The number of airmen coming down on Danish soil or in Danish waters in 1944 through early May 1945 increased with increasing flights over Denmark, but now a higher proportion of them evaded with the increasing likelihood of receiving assistance from either Danish civilians or Resistance members.  In the final 16 months of the war, 89 of 273 Allied airmen evaded from Denmark.  Thus, the percentage of Allied airmen who evaded increased from 0% in 1940-1942, to 7%, 27%, and 66% in 1943, 1944, and 1945, respectively. Link to Airwar Over Denmark http://www.flensted.eu.com/  for information on fates of airmen who came down on Danish soil or Danish waters.

Avoiding capture
Aircrew were advised in Escape and Evasion lectures that they should move away from the landing site as quickly as possible to avoid detection by Germans who normally thoroughly searched areas where aircraft  or airmen had been seen to land, continuing to keep a sharp look out for survivors for two or three days.  When ME449 was shot down near Tarm in Jutland on 12 March 1945, the five crewmen who baled out all landed at least 1 km from where the Lancaster crashed. Although German soldiers soon arrived at the crash site, local Danes had already reached the aircraft and removed the bodies of Mid-Upper Gunner Morris and Rear Gunner Porter.  German soldiers did conduct searches in the local area, including a farm in the vicinity of where Fairclough landed and where he was being hidden, but they did not find him.

Who to approach for help in Denmark
An evader had no way of determining in advance whether a given person in Denmark was a German sympathizer, an Allied sympathizer, or a member of a Danish Resistance group, but Escape and Evasion lectures given to aircrew by Intelligence Officers attached to RAF squadrons provided guidance.  Aircrew were informed that contact with local people was not recommended when within 30 miles of the Danish land border with Germany in the Schleswig portion of Jutland where the proportion of the population with German ancestry was higher than elsewhere in Denmark.  However, when north of a line between the cities of Esbjerg and Kolding, aircrew were advised to approach parsons, doctors, fishermen, or farmers, particularly at smaller rather than large farms, for assistance.

During the 4 days that Mitchell and Bertie walked from their landing place in western Jutland to where they made contact with the Danish Resistance near Funder, they always received some level of help in the form of food or a night’s rest at every farm they approached (see Evasion Story and Danish Helpers).  Additonally, Mitchell and Bertie were given warnings about locations to avoid because of the presence of German forces.  Not all Allied fliers were so lucky.  Although RAAF Wireless Operator G. M. Maude and RAF Rear Gunner J. H. Bloomer from Stirling LJ999, which crashed on the morning of 5 March 1945, received protection in the initial stages of their evasion, several days later they went into Herning where they were arrested on 8 March by German soldiers as they left a grocery store.

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