EE138 Home
The EE138 Story
EE138 Crew
About Lancaster  EE138
The crash site near Stadil Denmark
BBMF Lancaster 2010 Flypast
Other EE138 related information
Links to other interesting sites
Contact Us
Guestbook

This "Signals" page presents communications from various EE138 interested people:

Visit to Stadil, late July/early August 2009 - Jean Stevens

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

Photos and story by Nick Stevens (Son of Jean Meadows - crewman Jowett's cousin)

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.
If you think everyone would be interested please do publish my letter to Lars.  I have had quite a lot of interest following my letter in the Daily Telegraph.  An email today came from someone in Denmark who takes his grandchildren regularly to visit the grave and he said there are always fresh flowers there.
Following the interview with Danish TV on 4th Sept. we have had a visit from a Danish lady, a video photographer who works a lot for the BBC.  She took photos here for the Danish documentary which is being shown on Danish TV  at Christmas.
I am glad you have written to everyone to say thank you.  It was a splendid effort all round.  I wanted to say thank you to the RAF Wing Co and his sergeant.  Do you think you could send me his email address?   Also, I should like to write a letter to Margaret  so could you send me her address?
Yesterday we attended a service of remembrance at our local church and it meant so much more to me this year.  Thank you both again for all the hours you must have spent setting up this memorial.  A splendid achievement.

Very best wishes,

Jessie.

A letter from Jessie Bowler to Lars Kryger - Danish Journalist, sharing her impressions of the EE138 65th Commemoration and plaque unveiling:

Dear Lars,

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.
I said I would tell you about the Stadil ceremony from my point of view.
On Tuesday September 2nd we left a very noisy, crowded Gatwick Airport which is about half an hour drive from my home in Brighton on the south coast of England. We were pleased to arrive at a very tranquil Billund Airport. The Hotel Fjordgården was very nice and the staff welcoming. We had asked them to order a wreath of flowers to lay at the crash site. We asked for red and white flowers the colour of the Danish flag. This they kindly arranged to do.
On Wednesday morning I made my first visit to the place where my handsome, brave young husband died. So small, so isolated a place! But how wonderful that for 65 years it has been cared for by the people of Stadil and the Halkjær family especially.
On Wednesday evening a dinner had been arranged at our Hotel for 22 people, relatives of the crew from Australia and England and Wing Commander John Ibbotson of the RAAF. This was the first time we had all met together. It was a very friendly gathering as we were all there for one common purpose. I was pleased to meet Margaret Downing . She and I were the only people there who had actually known members of the ill-fated crew.
On Thursday afternoon we arrived at the site and were shown to seats in the marquee. The weather was very windy but it did not rain or only a little. I was so pleased to see so many people there. The Australian Ambassador (a lady) unveiled the plaques and the cross, both of which had been beautifully made. The memorial service was very impressive. The Chaplain read the prayers and the hymn singing was led by the ladies' choir. The service was just like the ones I attend in England on Remembrance Day , November 11th each year. The wreaths were laid. Because of the rain and the slippery ground I was accompanied by an RAF sergeant, Mark Frisby, who carried my wreath and made sure I did not fall. (The RAF Wing Commander Dick MacCormac had arranged for his sergeant to come to help me, because Ernie was a sergeant.) There was going to be a Fly Past by planes of the Danish Air Force but it had to be cancelled because of the strong wind. However a senior officer of the Danish Air Force was at the ceremony.
After the service we were all invited to the Community Hall for coffee and cake. I was able then to meet many members of the Halkjær family and to thank them. There I met you, Lars, and another charming young man who interviewed me for TV!!! Everybody was so nice and friendly. It is a long time since I have had so many handsome young men paying me compliments. I think I like Denmark!
Before we left on on Friday morning we made another visit to the site. Whilst we were there two Australian men arrived. They had read about it in the newspaper and came to see it. One of them lived in Denmark and was married to a Danish lady and he spoke Danish so when two local people also arrived at the site he was able to interpret for us. Then Margaret and her daughter arrived for one last look. Margaret and I look forward to the 70th celebration when we shall both be 90 years old!
I could not have made this pilgrimage without the wonderful support of my daughter, Amanda, and her partner, Mike who made all the arrangements and took such good care of me.
I am going to send you some photographs of our visit in a separate email for your interest (although I realise you already have some excellent photographs on the web site).

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,
September 2008.

**Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

 

Contact Us | ©2008-2012