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Eye Witnesses

Many Danish people in the Lyne-Tarm area of western Jutland heard or saw the attack by the Junkers nightfighter Ju88 D5 + AL on Lancaster bomber ME449 on the night of 12/13 March 1945.  Some who lived nearby became involved in the subsequent recovery of the two bodies and protection of the five survivors.  The five Danish eye witnesses and first responders I list here are those who I was fortunate to meet in person 7 decades after the events of 1945, during visits to Denmark from 2011 to 2017.  These five people were all young (often teenagers) in 1945.  As of 2018, several are no longer alive.

Gail Michener
November 2018

Laurids Bundgård

Eighteen-year old Laurids Bundgård saw the British aircraft heading west when he heard the nightfighter attack. The Lancaster then turned back east and flew directly over the family farm at Gjelgårdsvej 5.  A few days later Laurids found the hatch from the Lancaster next to a barrow in the farm field just 460 m west of the family home. Years later, he donated the hatch to the Ringkøbing Museum where it has been on display since 2011.

 

   
 ME449 hatch on display in Ringkøbing Museum  Laurids Bundgård in 2012

 

Svend Bjerregård

Fourteen-year-old Svend Bjerregård was at home on his parents’ farm at Nørhedevej 28 when the family heard the sounds of passing aircraft and heavy machine gun fire. Svend went into an adjacent darkened room to look out, then ran back to the sitting room to tell his father that he had seen a plane on fire. When they went outside, Svend and his father heard engine noise but could not see the aircraft as the fire was temporarily extinguished. Then fire started up again and the bomber looked like a shooting star as it fell to earth. The next day Svend cycled to the crash site where he could see that the Lancaster had belly landed and broken into three pieces, but he could not approach closely because German soldiers were guarding the aircraft.

Knud Raunkjær  (26 June 1923 – 26 August 2014)

Knud Raunkjær, 21 years old and a member of the local Lyne Resistance group, heard gunfire from the direction of Ølgod and observed an aircraft plunging towards the family farm at Knudvej 3. The bomber missed the Raunkjær home, but landed just 800 m away at the neighbours. Knud rushed inside to put on boots and grab flashlights before running to the crash site, arriving about when the neighbor Svend Jensen arrived. Others also began arriving at the crash site, including several members of the local Civilbeskyttelse (CB). Physician Dr. Bent Øllgård, another member of the Resistance, also came but could not stay as he was under suspicion by the German occupiers. Raunkjær helped remove the bodies, which were then taken to the hospital in Tarm by the CB members before the German authorities arrived.  Read Raunkjær’s reminiscences.

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  Svend Bjerregård in 2014
 Knud Raunkjær in 2011

Hugo Bach Nielsen  (26 June 1926 –  )

Although only 18 years old, Hugo Bach Nielsen was a Resistance member in the Luftbeskyttelse group in Tarm in 1945.  When he heard the air alarm for an aircraft that had crashed near Lyne about 2200 h on 12 March, Nielsen went to the command centre of the Civilbeskyttelse (CB) in Tarm.  He then went with two other men by truck to the crash site, where they met up with a fourth man.  The bodies of Porter and Morris were removed from the Lancaster and placed under a tarpaulin in the back of the truck.  Only three people could fit in the cab of the truck, so Nielsen sat in the back with the bodies for the drive to Tarm Sygehus, the hospital in Tarm.  Later that night, when two German officers demanded to be taken to the crash site, Nielsen and CB member Hansen claimed that they had not been to the crash site but knew how to get there.

Inger Jensen  (11 January 1920 –  )

At 24 years of age, Inger Jensen was a trainee nurse on duty at the Tarm hospital when the bodies of the two gunners were brought to the hospital. Inger Jensen prepared the body of Harvey Porter while another nurse, Jenny Jensen, prepared Donald Morris. They stripped and washed the bodies, then dressed them back in their uniforms. The identification tags and photographs that all air crew carried were retained at the hospital, so they did not fall into German hands.

   
 Hugo Bach Nielsen in 2012  Inger Nielsen (nee Jensen) in 2013

Also see Civilian Help and Resistance Help

 

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