Early in my search for information about the war-time experiences of my Australian father, RAAF Navigator Stoney Mitchell, I encountered the archives of two Danish amateur historians, Børge Rasmussen and Ole Kraul, who had researched the 1945 crash of Lancaster ME449 during the 1970s and 1980s. Børge Rasmussen in particular had made contact with many of the civilian and Resistance people who had helped with recovery of the bodies of Donald Morris and Harvey Porter and with providing protection and transportation for the evasions of Stan Slater, Thomas Fairclough, Ken Foster, Mervyn Bertie, and Stoney Mitchell. By the time I began my research, over three decades later in the 2010s, many of those eye witnesses and helpers had died, and thus I have depended heavily on the extensive and thorough material collected by Børge Rasmussen and subsequently donated to the Ringkøbing-Skjern Arkiv by Rasmussen’s daughter Anni Guldberg Madsen.
Despite the passage of time, when I began researching my father’s experiences in 2010 and especially on multiple visits to Denmark starting in June 2011, I was thrilled to discover that some of the Danish eye witnesses and helpers from 1945 were still alive, as was the Lancaster pilot Stan Slater, and all were very willing to share their memories. Additionally, the current residents of Danish safe houses in which the evading airmen were hidden kindly opened their homes to visiting families of the Lancaster crew. Additionally, family members of Danish helpers, Resistance members, the air crew aboard Lancaster ME449, and the German nightfighter pilot have shared their memorabilia. Professional archivists, historians, and journalists have also contributed.
I thank all the people who have made my search for information so exciting, stimulating, and successful.
Visit Eyewitnesses and 70th Speeches for brief histories of some of the Danish citizens who reminisced about their memories of the crash of Lancaster ME449 on 12 March 1945.