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4th September 2013 - EE138 70th Commemoration and Propeller Blade Memorial Unveiling

September 4th 2013 marked the 70th year since the crash of EE138, to commemorate this event a permanent memorial was unveiled at the EE138 crash site in front of a crowd of 150 people. This is a result of over two years of planning and efforts by relatives of crew members Forrester (Peter Forrester and Jo Lewis/Forrester) and Carthew (Donald Stewart) along with Mrs Grete Møllerhøj, Mr Erling Halkjær, Mr Helge Frederiksen, and Mr Anders Andersen who donated the propeller blade. Along with the valuable assistance of the Australian Government, Department of Veteran Affairs Office of Australian War Graves Overseas Memorials.

Click here for images from the installation of the new Propeller Blade memorial, including a fascinating "coincidence" discovered during the install.

 

 

After the commemoration at the site, coffee and refreshments were served at the Stadil Hall, where thank you gifts were presented by the relatives group. The Stadil hall gathering was organised by Tina Bryant (mange tak Tina), Jill Bryant, Grete Møllerhøj with assistance by Leif, Erling and Else.

TV Midt-Vest Danish local television attended the commemoration and has a link to their coverage: http://frontend.xstream.dk/tvmv/?id=27288

The Ringkøbing Skjern Dagbladet newspaper printed some great stories about the event, the history and the crew relatives . Thank you to Lars Kryger, Redaktionschef/ Managing Editor of the Ringkøbing Skjern Dagbladet, for his continued interest and support over the years.

Link to the Ringkøbing Skjern Dagbladet front page story by Anne-Mette Skaanning, photos by Jørgen Kirk.

 

Link to the Ringkøbing Skjern Dagbladet EE138 article by Lars Kryger, photos by Jørgen Kirk.

 

Follow this link for the English Translation of Lars' article, thank you to Mrs Møllerhøj, Stadil for the translation.

 

The Ringkøbing Skjern Dagbladet also printed an article prior to the event, on the 30th August 2013, describing the day the propeller blade returned to Stadil.

Below are photos from the 4th September 2013 - EE138 70th Commemoration and Propeller Blade Unveiling

We thank all those people who have provided photos and written contributions of the 70th Commemoration Service including Dagbladet Ringkøbing-Skjern/Jørgen Kirk, RAF Sgt Scott Cuthbertson, Maren Andersen, Jo Lewis, D. Stewart, Bent Anthonisen. Ander s S.

Click here for a .pdf of the Program in Danish

Click here for a .pdf of the Order of Service in English

The Ringkøbing-Skjern Kommune organised for the national flags of Denmark, United Kingdom and Australia to be flown proudly on the day.

We would like to thank the Ringkøbing-Skjern Kommune for providing the marquee, decking, chairs and sound equipment used for the commemoration.

Above, seated from left: Jill Bryant (Stadil), Amanda Shepherd and Jessie Bowler (UK). Standing behind Amanda, Richard Bryant (Stadil). Photo: Dagbladet Ringkøbing-Skjern/Jørgen Kirk.

Foreground- Mr Chris Woobey was accompanied by his wife Jeanie Woobey- Chris was wearing the medals of his grandfather (crew member RAF Sgt Arthur Rolfe) as well as his father's service medal.

Background: left, Mr Søren Flensted, Mr Kristian Zouaoui and right Mr Bob Cobley. Mr Flensted and Mr Cobley are members of the Denmark Team. Chris and Jeanie were the first relatives of crew member RAF Sgt Rolfe to visit the Stadil crash site.

Click here to read Mr Bob Cobley's account of the 70th commemoration.

Master of Ceremonies and proud resident of Stadil Mr Ole Kamp representing the Ringkøbing-Skjern Kommune. "..there are people present who remember and the rest of us should never forget." - Mr Ole Kamp.

Click here to read the speech of Mr. Kamp (in English).

Above: Graham Longmore nephew of Lancaster EE138 crew member RAF Sergeant Ernest Thirkettle, chats with Amanda Shepherd.

Left: Amanda Shepherd and Jessie Bowler greet Lars Kryger, Redaktionschef/ Managing Editor of the Ringkøbing Skjern Dagbladet (newspaper).

As a part of the 70th Commemoration of EE138, a photo of RAF Sgt Arthur Rolfe was added to the 2008 plaque stand.

Also added to the 2008 plaque stand was a correction in the spelling of the name Combes/Coombes- which is unfortunately mis-spelt throughout the official squadron records including an entry of Combres from Canada. As a result of extensive research of the Combes family of Bosham UK and obtaining an official copy of his birth certificate the correct spelling is John Creswell Combes.

Above: Wearing a red poppy Mr. Donald Stewart of Rendelsham South Australia, Mrs. Dormi Petersen, Mr. Flemming Nyborg Jensen and Mr. Lars Kryger.

Nearly 150 people attended the commemoration.

Above: Mrs. Karen Forrester & Grete Møllerhøj hand out copies of the Order of Service to those attending the commemoration.

Above from left: Mr Bob Cobley MBE, Mr Søren Flensted, Mr Peer Petersen (Members of the Denmark team) and Jytte Jensen.

Above, front right: Mrs Grete Møllerhøj - Grete is a major coordinator for the 70th Commemoration, to her left is Mrs Kirsten Ramsgaard from the local Stadil Archives. Behind Kirsten is crew relative Mr Donald Stewart. Behind Grete RDAF Wing Commander Mr Kurt Nielsen keeps a close eye on the horizon - as he coordinated the perfectly timed F-16 fly over.

Centre rear - Graham Longmore nephew of Lancaster EE138 crew member RAF Sergeant Ernest Thirkettle, right of Graham is Tina Bryant - who did a wonderful job of decorating and organising at the Stadil Hall. Foreground - left, Amanda Shepherd and right, Jessie Bowler.

Above: Mr Chris Woobey was accompanied by his wife Jeanie Woobey.

The news media from TV Midvest also attended and provided extensive coverage. Below: Interviewing Mr Erling Halkjær.

Foreground: Mr. Anders N. Andersen listens to the speech of Assistant Defence Attaché RAF Sgt Scott Cuthbertson, prior to reading the 1948 prop blade recovery story of Mr. Helge Frederiksen.

Above: Many familiar Danish faces again attended.

 

From left: Mr Ole Kamp; RAF Sgt Scott Cuthbertson; RAAF Wing Commander Anthony O'Leary OAM; Australia's Ambassador to Denmark Mr Damien Miller.

 

Right: RAAF Wing Commander Anthony O'Leary OAM presented an enlightening speech recounting a mission over France undertaken by Flying Officer Forrester and his 27 Operational Training Unit 5 man Wellington crew. Click here to read Wing Commander O'Leary's speech (in English).

Australia's Ambassador to Denmark Mr Damien Miller laying a wreath at the RAAF 460 Squadron Lancaster EE138 crash site on behalf of the Australian Government. Photo: Dagbladet Ringkøbing-Skjern/Jørgen Kirk.

 

Australia's Ambassador to Denmark Mr Damien Miller delivered a significant and poignant speech.

Click here to read Ambassador Miller's speech (in English).

RAAF Wing Commander Anthony O'Leary OAM holding the recently awarded service medals of crew member RAAF Flying Officer Sidney Milton Forrester.

Australia's Ambassador to Denmark Mr Damien Miller presented posthumously awarded service medals of RAAF Flying Officer Sidney Milton Forrester.

Photo: Dagbladet Ringkøbing-Skjern/Jørgen Kirk.

Assistant Defence Attaché RAF Sgt Scott Cuthbertson gave a factual historical speech about the 1947 recovery attempt by the RAF 3 Missing Research & Enquiry Unit who were based at Esjberg Denmark. Click here to read his speech (in English).

Mr Erling Halkjær addresses the crowd in Danish, describing the recovery of the propeller blade in 1948.

Click here to read Erling Halkjær's speech (in Danish).

Click here to read Erling Halkjær's speech (in English, translation by Mrs Grete Møllerhøj).

The 1948 propeller blade recovery story of Mr. Helge Frederiksen was told in Danish and English. Mr. Anders N. Andersen (Above) began his speech by expressing his own special thanks to the fallen fliers on the field of Stadil.

Click here to read Anders Andersen's speech (in English).


Left of Anders, his mother, Mrs Maren Andersen ... "My mother stood watching the plane crash, and it flew low above the farm. If the pilots had not kept it in the air until it was free of the houses, I might not have been here today..."- Anders N. Andersen, September 4th 2013.

Read Maren Andersen's story here (in Danish and English)

The story of the propeller blade from Lancaster EE138 being dug from the wet marshy soil is listened to with interest by the many local people including Mr. Erik Jepsen (Top left) the current land owner of the EE138 crash site.

 

The EE138 propeller blade as seen protruding from the reeds at the crash site. Perhaps this is what captured Helge Frederiksen's attention in 1948?

Then the unveiling of the propeller blade, returned to the EE138 crash site after 65 years. The Propeller Blade Memorial was unveiled by Mr Anders N Andersen and Mr Erling Halkjær watched over by 150 Danish friends and crew relatives from Australia and the UK.

A fourth generation Halkjær, the grandson of Erling Halkjær, looks at the propeller blade now revealed alongside the Memorial Stone - which was unveiled by his great grandfather Ingemann Halkjær in 1950.

Above: After 2 and half years of planning, a proud occasion in history and finally Erling and Anders share a very special moment.

Above: This young Danish boy with his father has previously attended the BBMF Lancaster flypast of the EE138 crash site, here he reads about the history of the EE138 propeller blade.
Above: The son of Erling and Else Halkjær takes a closer look at the distinct notches cut into the EE138 propeller blade.
Above: A minutes silence is observed.
Above: Mr. Damien Miller, Australia's Ambassador to Denmark placed a floral wreath on behalf of the people of Australia. Above: Mr. Ole Kamp placed a wreath on behalf of the Ringkøbing-Skjern Kommune.
Photo: Dagbladet Ringkøbing-Skjern/Jørgen Kirk.

RAAF Wing Commander Anthony O'Leary OAM places a wreath for the crew of Lancaster EE138 on behalf of the Royal Australian Air Force.

Above: Royal Air Force Sgt. Scott Cuthbertson accompanied Mrs. Jessie Bowler. Above: Mr. Mark Forrester along with Karen Forrester placed flowers and a framed poem.

Mark and Karen Forrester place a poem dedicated to RAAF Flying Officer Sidney Forrester, written by Mark Forrester.

Peter and Jo Forrester (Lewis) place flowers Photo: Dagbladet Ringkøbing-Skjern/Jørgen Kirk.

Mr. Graham Longmore nephew of Lancaster EE138 crew member RAF Sergeant Ernest Thirkettle on his first visit to the Stadil crash site placed a wreath of red poppies.

Mr. Donald Stewart E.F.B placed flowers on behalf of relatives of Lancaster EE138 crew member RAAF Warrant Officer Ewin Carthew.

RAF Sgt Scott Cuthbertson accompanied Mrs. Jessie Bowler as she placed a wreath for her war time husband Lancaster EE138 crew member RAF Sergeant Ernest Thirkettle.

Above: Mrs Grete Møllerhøj places a heather wreath.

Above from Left: Mrs Maren Andersen, Mrs Ole Kamp, RAF Sgt Scott Cuthbertson and Mr Graham Longmore (nephew of crew member RAF Sgt Ernie Thirkettle).

 

Above: Royal Air Force Sgt. Scott Cuthbertson along side the EE138 propeller blade. Above: Royal Danish Air Force Wing Commander Kurt Nielsen maintained contact with the F16 pilots ensuring their perfectly timed arrival over the EE138 70th Commemoration service.

RAAF Wing Commander Anthony O'Leary passes the service medals of RAAF Flying Officer Sidney Forrester to the family custodian Peter Forrester. Photo: Dagbladet Ringkøbing-Skjern/Jørgen Kirk.

Above, below and right: Perfectly coordinated.

Royal Danish Air force F-16's piloted by Thomas Kristensen and Steffen Nørris Lorentsen, flew twice over the site as the medals were handed to the Forrester family custodian. Photo: Dagbladet Ringkøbing-Skjern/Jørgen Kirk.

Above: Mr. Damien Miller, Mark and Karen Forrester. Above: Mr. Damien Miller, RAF Sgt. Scott Cuthbertson and Tom Shepherd, grandson of Mrs. Jessie Bowler.
Above: Jill and Tina Bryant talk with Chris and Jeanie Woobey.
Above: Mrs. Jessie Bowler, meets with local Stadil residents Helle Jensen and her mother.
Above: Mrs. Jessie Bowler
   

ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE
LANCASTER EE138 AR-E2 460 SQUADRON

THIS PROPELLER BLADE WAS RETRIEVED FROM THE EE138
WRECKAGE IN 1948 BY 15 YEAR OLD HELGE FREDERIKSEN,
SON OF VICAR FREDE FREDERIKSEN OF STADIL WHO
ADDRESSED THE UNVEILING CEREMONY FOR THE
MEMORIAL STONE AT THIS SITE IN 1950.

IN 1967 IT WAS PLACED IN THE CARE OF THE ANDERS
N. ANDERSEN FAMILY OF STADIL WHO DONATED THE
PROPELLER BLADE TO THIS MEMORIAL ON SEPT 4TH 2013.

TWO NOTCHES IN THE BLADE MIGHT BE FOR A LIFTING
HARNESS USED IN THE FAILED ATTEMPT TO RECOVER THE
AIRCRAFT AND CREW BODIES BY THE No. 3 MISSING
RESEARCH AND ENQUIRY UNIT ON JUNE 3rd 1947 OR THE
ABANDONED SCRAP METAL SALVAGE VENTURE IN 1948.
STRIKE AND RETURN

ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE
LANCASTER EE138 AR-E2 460 ESKADRILLE

DETTE PROPELBLAD BLEV HENTET FREM FRA VRAGET AF
EE138 I 1948 AF 15-ÅRIGE HELGE FREDERIKSEN I STADIL,
SØN AF SOGNEPRÆST I STADIL FREDE FREDERIKSEN,
DER TALTE VED AFSLØRINGSCEREMONIEN AF
MINDESTENEN PÅ DETTE STED I 1950.

I 1967 KOM DET I FAMILIEN
ANDERS N. ANDERSENS VARETÆGT I STADIL.
HAN DONEREDE PROPELBLADET TIL DENNE
MINDEHØJTIDELIGHED DEN 4. SEPTEMBER 2013.

TO HAK I BLADET KAN VÆRE TIL ET LØFTEUDSTYR
BRUGT AF 3. EFTERSØGNINGS- OG UNDERSØGELSESENHED
I ET FORGÆVES FORSØG PÅ AT BJÆRGE RESTER
AF FLYET OG LIGENE AF BESÆTNINGSMEDLEMMERNE
DEN 3. JUNI 1947 ELLER VED DET MISLYKKEDE
FORSØG PÅ AT OPSAMLE METAL I 1948.
STRIKE AND RETURN

This memorial funded by the
Office of Australian War Graves

Overseas Privately Constructed Memorial Restoration Program 2013

Left: Inscribed on the new bronze plaque is the propeller blade history and provenance, in English and Danish.

The Stadil meeting hall was the venue for coffee and cakes, co-organised by Tina Bryant - who welcomes the Australian Ambassador Damien Miller and the Danish Home Guard Peter Høg Toft. Mrs Grete Møllerhøj talks with Denmark Team members Mr. Bob Cobley and Mr. Peer Petersen.

Costs for the refreshments and hall hire were funded by donations from the Australian Embassy Copenhagen, the Stadil Parish, the Stadil Historisk Arkiv and the Stadil Sparekasse (Savings bank) and crew relatives.

The Stadil meeting hall was decorated by Tina Bryant with fresh purple heather, gathered by Tina from the local area.

Jessie Bowler presents gifts to Erling and Else Halkjær.

 

Jessie thanks Anders N. Andersen.
Above: Quite a gathering at the Stadil meeting hall gave the opportunity for good friends to share a coffee and cake. Above: Mrs. Grete Møllerhøj and Ms. Tina Bryant talk with Chris and Jeanie Woobey.

Above: Australian Ambassador Mr Damien Miller accepts a small gift of appreciation from Mr. Peter Forrester

Right: Mr Ole Kamp with framed parchment from the EE138 relatives group.

 

Below:Small pewter Lancaster pins formed part of the gifts given to the many people who assisted in organising the 70th commemoration.

Above: Lowering the Danish flag at the Stadil meeting hall after the coffee reception.

Above: A tasty treat of chocolate Fruchocs - all the way from South Australia - made up the gift package.

A rose planted by Chris and Jeanie Woobey on behalf of his Mother, Jean Woobey (nee Rolfe) the daughter of RAF Sgt. Arthur Rolfe.

The poem dedicated to Sid Forrester and his mates, written by Mark Forrester.

Click here to read Mark's touching poem.

All is quiet a the end of the day.

Above: A gathering on the evening of the 4th September 2013 at the Halkjær family farm. You can see the EE138 crash site in the distance through the window.

Above: A golden light bathed the crash site.

Above: This photo was taken on the 3rd September 2013, the day prior to the unveiling. This is the first moment that Chris and Jeanie Woobey arrived at the EE138 crash site, Chris is the first relative of EE138 crew member RAF Sgt. Arthur Rolfe to visit the site.

 

Below from right: Erling Halkjær, Mark Forrester, Karen Forrester, Peter Forrester, Jo Forrester (Lewis).

 

September 5th 2013, Mark Forrester revisits the crash site with his wife Karen and other crew relatives of Carthew, Thirkettle, Rolfe and Forrester.

The EE138 crash site memorial consists of the Memorial Stone donated by the local Stadil residents & unveiled in May 1950, the bronze plaques and replica wooden cross revealed in September 2008 and the propeller blade and granite/bronze memorial of September 2013 form a balance to the garden setting.

 

One of three new protective granite bollards added to the perimeter of the crash site makes a comfortable seat to take that special photo!

The two notches clearly visible cut into the propeller blade are thought to have been made by the RAF 3 Missing Research & Enquiry Unit, in their unsuccessful attempt to recover the wreckage and crew bodies on June 3rd 1947.

Looking over the memorial and south across the Stadil field.

The 30 meter long crater and mound of Lancaster EE138 protected by 4 of the 8 granite bollards.

The grass at the crash site was cut in the days before the 70th commemoration by staff members of the Ringkøbing-Skjern Kommune.

The crash site as approached from the east along the farm track.

 

Left: The crash site after rain at the end of September 2013, it is very familiar to accounts recounted from 60 -70 years ago:

As per the account of the 1943 air battle witnessed by farmer Ingemann Halkjær:
"The plane had fallen down along the reeds. There was a crater like hole, maybe about 30 meters of length, ..... The hole had run full of water."

 

C:\Users\pd\Documents\Data\460 Sqdn\Prop blade\Photo video dump\1950s photostadil7.jpg

Above: Photo taken by Ian Forrester Friday September 8th 1950 - " . . . I rolled my trouser legs up and stood in the water and squished my toes in the mud and leant over to pick up pieces of wreckage. . ."

From the Danish Police report February 1949  . . ."Shortly afterwards all that remained to be seen was a large water-filled hole at the site and pieces of wreckage from the plane were scattered about the area, some pieces still burning on the surface of the water.. . ."

The following story outlines how the propeller blade was recovered from Lancaster EE138, as recounted by Mr Helge Frederiksen.

When my father a couple of years after the Liberation acquired the position as Vicar for the Stadil Parish I was a boy of 15 years who already twice during the war had had the experience of watching RAF planes being shot down. On one occasion just above our heads when attacked by German fighters and crashed a few miles away. All crew members were lost. At the other occasion, the pilot managed to crash land the airplane. One died in the flames and the other crew members were saved and escaped with the help of Danish resistance people to Sweden and from there back to England.   

When I therefore heard about the Lancaster which had been shot down just few miles from the place where we lived in Stadil, I was keen to see the place which was located at a very wet farming area close to Farmer Ingemann Halkjær.

At the time when I first visited the crash area still a lot of smaller parts from the airplane could be seen spread over the area while a few bigger items buried in the ground, but partly visible could be observed. Everything else had disappeared in the very muddy area and oil was noticeable on the water surrounding the place. A typical oil/fuel smell was noticed when small bubbles reached the water surface.   

Of course it was a strong and sad experience to stand there knowing that the brave air-men had lost their lives here in their fight to liberate Europe from the Germans and to be left here so far away from their loved ones and Home Countries.

I was a keen angler and used my long Waders when investigating the very wet area to see if I could find other items from the plane. During one of these excursions I discovered the end tip of a propeller blade and I decided that I would try to have it recovered if at all possible. .

However, shortly after the area was fenced in, and some people, who obviously had been engaged with the aim to recover the wreck started working. A Crane was put up and they tried to lift the visible parts of the plane. But only few smaller items were recovered as the crane was sinking down in the wet area as soon as they tried to pull up and eventually they gave up without result.  

Not knowing if other people would come to continue the job of recovering I decided to do my own modest recovering job, and after difficult digging and pulling I finally got the propeller blade up and with the permission of Ingemann Halkjær I transported the blade to my home on top of my new bicycle which unfortunately got some bad scratches in the process. It was about 3 Miles across difficult field area but finally I reached home.

The Blade was then placed in my room nicely decorated by a RAF flag I had received from one of the Royal Air Force soldiers who came to Denmark after the Liberation.

Time went by and I was now working in West Africa for a Danish Company and when my father reached the time to go on pension my parents presented the blade to Anders Andersen who had shown much interest in the blade when visiting my parents.

The same Anders, who together with Erling Halkjær, son of Ingemann Halkjær now are preparing the way for the Blade finally to be placed where it belongs together with the original Monument.

It will be remembered that Erling’s father Ingemann Halkjær was the person who initiated a committee consisting of Ingemann, my father and Aksel Koldby, chairman of the Local Parish.  This committee started a local collection with the aim on the 5th of May 1950 to raise a Monument in honour of the brave RAAF and RAF airmen who lost their lives in Stadil in their fight for Freedom in Europe.

From left: Erling Halkjær, Helge Frederiksen, Anders Andersen at the EE138 crash site with the propeller blade.

 

 

 

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