This "Signals" page presents communications from various EE138 interested people:
On the way to Harwich to catch the ferry, we stayed in Cambridge overnight and met up with our son Nick and his partner who were holidaying in the area. Nick had visited Binbrook on his journey down to East Anglia and showed us the photographs he had taken there so Grahame and I were already immersed in that wartime period before we even left England.
We arrived in Stadil on Friday afternoon 31 July and were given a warm welcome by Grete. Although we’d planned a visit to the site on the Saturday, I couldn’t wait and we went there immediately.
As we approached the site we saw that someone was working there (this was Kamma’s husband) and, as we drove the car to the top of the lane to turn round, he quietly left. His courtesy and tact were much appreciated.
What impressed me most on that first walk along the grass path towards the memorial was the fact that it is hidden and protected by the wild rose bushes and grasses which seem to encircle it. And, as we got nearer, I was very moved to see that the crater is still clearly visible.
Then I was standing where my aunt Evelyn Lee stood with Ingemann Halkjær, the piece of land that they and their families and the families of all the crew members have fought, and are still fighting, to have preserved and respected. It was, of course, a profound experience and brought together the many memories scattered through the years.
We stayed there for over an hour taking in the atmosphere, and the rest of that day and overnight absorbing the experience.
On the Saturday morning with went with Grete to see Kamma, Ingemann’s daughter and, with Grete acting as interpreter, shared with her all the reports and letters she and her family have collected and kept all these years. She was kindness itself and gave us copies of the 50th anniversary booklet and a cd of the 65th anniversary ceremony. She also showed us icons made by her sister Lis and, in a very moving moment, put into my hands the glass bowl which Jessie Bowler (widow of Ernest Thirkettle) gave to her and which had been one of their wedding presents.
Then we went to Stadil Church with Grete and found Ingemann’s grave, so were able to pay our respects there.
(View of Stadil Church in the distance from accross the Fjord)
Later that day we went back to the site. I had decided that the most personal gift I could take for Bert would be a poem I had been writing about him in order to encapsulate some of my feelings. So at the site I read the poem aloud and we took photographs, some of which accompany this account.
Jean Stevens (nee Meadows)
Visit to Binbrook – July 25th 2009
In 1950 Ian Forrester, brother of crew member Forrester, visited the crash site and the Halkjaer family. The following photo shows Ian with a very yourng Per Halkjær:
Then 58 years later in 2008, at the 65th Commemoration, Ian's son Peter Forrester met with the same Per Halkjær! Per, introduced himself to Peter by showing him the original of the photograph above with Ian. Per, like most of the Halkjær family who attended the 65th commemoration met with all of the crew relatives.
A collection of images of the wreaths and floral tributes from the 65th Commemoration:
Mrs Jessie Bowler and her daughter Amanda Shepherd at the Hotel Fjordgården dinner on the 3/9/08:
A letter from Mrs Jessie Bowler (widow of crew member Thirkettle) to Peter Forrester (nephew of crew member Forrester) and Jo Lewis:
Dear Pete and Jo,
Thank you for your long and interesting email. This is a never-ending story. I thought that when I arrived back at Gatwick that that was the end of the affair but not a bit of it! I am so glad I acquired my laptop last Easter and with all the family giving me instructions I have put it to good use.
Very best wishes,
A letter from Jessie Bowler to Lars Kryger - Danish Journalist, sharing her impressions of the EE138 65th Commemoration and plaque unveiling:
My son who lives in Paris has sent me an e-mail translation of the article you wrote. You have been very kind about me. Thank you.
Best wishes to you from Jessie Bowler
Mr Victor Kelaher cousin of Squadron Leader Carl Kelaher and his wife Mrs Pam Kelaher at the dinner which was organised by Vic on the evening of the 3/9/08, Vic chose the Hotel Fjordgården at Ringkøbing to cater for the occasion.
The following story is Vic's impression of the 65th Commemoration day:
As dawn broke over the North Sea coast line of Jutland in Denmark on Thursday, 4th September this year (2008) the land was being battered by a gale-force wind with sheeting rain sweeping across the countryside. Despite this sort of weather our hosts at the guesthouse, where my wife and I were staying, insisted that by late morning the rain would cease. So it was, that by two o’clock that afternoon with the sun endeavouring to break through gaps in the cloud but with the strong cross-winds still blowing that an estimated 125-150 persons, including twenty-one relatives of the crew of Lancaster EE138, gathered in a farm field to the west of the village of Stadil for a Service of Remembrance to that crew on the 65th anniversary of their aircraft being intercepted and shot-down by a Luftwaffe night-fighter plane in the early hours of September 4th 1943 and to be witness to the dedicating of a replacement plaque in honour of the crew, all of whom perished in the marshy-ground of that farm field.
The ceremony commenced with Ringkøbing City Council representative, Mr Ole Kamp, welcoming the guests whilst Mr Søren Flensted, military historian, acted as ‘Master of Ceremonies’ introducing those participating in the service. The Ladies’ Choir of Stadil village sang the Danish National Anthem whilst the Rural Dean of Ringkøbing Diocese, Chaplin Jorgen Eilschou Holm, led prayers; the singing of the hymn ‘Immortal Invisible’ and later the blessing of the new plaque after it had been unveiled by the Australian Ambassador to Denmark, Ms. Sharyn Minahan.
Wing Commander John Ibbotson, who represented the Royal Australian Air Force and Wing Commander Dick Macormac of the Royal Air Force, both addressed those present speaking of the sacrifices made by the aircrews of Bomber Command and in particular 460 Squadron (RAAF) during World War II. Each laid a wreath as did the Ambassador, the relatives of the crew, serving airmen of the Royal Danish Air Force and other civil dignitaries who were present. This was followed by the reading of the ‘Ode’ by Wing Commander Ibbotson, the playing of the ‘Last Post’, a Minutes silence then ‘The Rouse’.
Due to the persistent cross-winds sweeping along the length of the runway of the military airfield on Jutland, two F16 fighter aircraft of the Royal Danish Air Force that should have made a flypast had to be grounded, but a senior officer from the squadron, Wing Commander Kurt Petersen, was present.
Despite the grounding of the two F16’s the service ended with a touch of nostalgia when the familiar sound of four Merlin engines filled the air and had those present scanning the sky looking for a non-existent Lancaster bomber. I, for one, thought momentarily that the BBMF’s** “Phantom of the Ruhr” had been arranged to pass overhead but despite no aircraft being visible the tribute was well appreciated by the older generation attending the event, who had lived through the war years. This brought to a close a moving and emotional ceremony for the relatives, particularly the older ones, who were saying a farewell to their loved ones for possibly the last time.
Victor R. Kelaher,
**Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
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