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Wreath-laying ceremony

Remembrance Room

 


Grave of the Lancaster Crew


"Let me tell you that your departed relatives could not be buried in a warmer soil because I know that people of this parish will guard and shelter it with a love of which the last two years have shown many examples”. The words are those of Mr. Kokkenborg, former rector of the parish of Skarrild., to the dead fliers’ bereaved relatives who were present at the inauguration of the memorial on 27 August 1946, exactly two years after the shooting down of Lancaster ME650 from East Kirkby in England. The number of participants at the inauguration from the parish of Skarrild and neighbouring parishes was very high, more than a thousand people.


In the Fliers Grave

Flt.Lieut Evelyn George William Bowers, England
W/O William John Carrier, Australia
Pilot Offr. Wilfred James Fingland, Canada
Sgt. Alan Ambrose Michael Langridge, England
Pilot Offr. Burton McLauchlin, Canada
Sgt. Guy Raymond Stott, England
Sgt. Leslie Thompson, England.



The seven fliers were buried on 29. August 1944 with large local participation in spite of German opposition. The Germans had put a simple wooden cross on the grave. In the course of the day and the following days the grave was covered with flowers.


The grave in 1944


Relatives visiting the grave in 1946


The grave 2003

The people of Skarrild wanted to give the deceased fliers a memorial. On 30 April 1945 the Parish Council decided that it would pay the costs and after the liberation on 5 May the plans for a special memorial were finalized with expert assistance.

Assisted by Mr. Frederik Lausen, Director, Clasonsborg, Mr. Jensen, cemetery gardener, Herning, Mr. Hansen Glem, Sculptor, Mr. Broeksted Christensen, architect, and Mr. Holm, master builder, Skarrild a beautiful and monumental memorial was built. The costs, amounting to Dkr. 3500, were borne by the local authority of Skarrild.

In 1947 the Parish Council decided that the Parish Council of Skarrild will maintain the Fliers Grave through the ages.

The local cemetery gardener in Skarrild has shown loving care of the grave and since 1963 Captain E.V.H. Jensen (Ret), Karup Air Base, has tended the grave and with great veneration renovated the memorial and the propeller.

The propeller is not as many people seem to think- from the crashed Lancaster but was brought to Jutland in October 1945 from the RAF Headquarters in Germany. It was kept at Clasonsborg until it was placed in the cemetery. The propeller is four-bladed in contrast the Lancasters three-bladed propeller. It is either from the specially built Lancaster VII or one of the earliest prototypes of the Lincoln bomber which came after the Lancaster and which was intended for the military effort against Japan.

In a ceremony in August 1991 the ashes of the twin brother of one of the dead fliers, George Victor Carrier from Australia, were placed in the fliers grave, close to the body of his dead brother, William John Carrier. His nephew, John Carrier, had travelled the long way from Australia with his fathers urn. A small granite stone with a brass plaque in the shape of the Australian continent was placed on the grave in 2002 at the request of Captain E.V.H. Jensen and Mr. Ole Kraul, Horsens.



Wreath-laying ceremony in Skarrild on 5 May 2004

In 2004 the beautiful tradition of laying a wreath on the RAF graves in Skarrild will mark the 60th anniversary of the shooting down and the burial in 1944 of four British, one Australian and two Canadian airmen from WW2.

At first the grave only had a simple wooden cross made by the Germans but since 1946 a beautiful monument has marked the fliers grave and since then the local population has gathered proudly by the grave once a year, either on the British Remembrance Day, 11 November, on the anniversary of the shooting down of the plane, 27 August, or on the Danish Liberation Day, 5 May.





Representatives of the Danish Liberation Movement laid down the wreath for many years after the war, later wreaths were laid by the Home Guard which also presented a guard of honour and since 1963 officers from Karup Air Base have laid a wreath at the memorial every year on 5 May.

The ceremonies at the memorial have been particularly moving since 2002 when RAF veterans from the 57/630 Squadrons Association and officers from the RAF have been present. Some are veterans of the same bombing raid on the East Prussian city of Konigberg, now Kaliningrad, which proved fatal to the Lancaster bomber that was shot down near Skarrild.





These memorial ceremonies, no matter how long ago the incidents took place, are always intense and moving, and the entire world is reduced to a very small point when you are together in this way, said Squadron Leader Mervyn Davies, the President of the 57/630 Squadrons Association in 2002.

Hundreds of people from Skarrild and from abroad take part in the memorial ceremonies and in the subsequent service in the church in Skarrild. Afterwards the participants take refreshments in the village hall or in the new community centre.

Because of the 60-year anniversary clubs and associations in Skarrild have established a planning committee in collaboration with the parish council, the Home Guard and representatives of Karup Air Base. Everyone is welcome and British veterans have already announced that they will be there on 5 May 2004.


Remembrance Room

Within Skarrild-Karstoft Museum and Archives we have created a Remembrance Room in memory of the gallant crew of a Lancaster from No. 630 Squadron Royal Air Force who gave their lives for their countries and also so that we, in Denmark, could eventually live our lives in freedom.





In this room we have several bits from the Lancaster (ME 650) including part of a propeller ploughed up in 1974 from the field where it crashed after being shot down by a German night-fighter in the early hours of 27th August 1944. There are lots of books and pictures presented by the veterans who have participated in the annual wreath-laying ceremonies at the Flier-grave site in Skarrild Churchyard





Of the seven members of the Lancaster crew, four were RAF from Great Britain, two were RCAF from Canada and one RAAF from Australia. Flags of the Royal Air Force, Canada and Australia hang in this room where we also have for sale different booklets, folders and CD´s containing pictures, text and eye-witness stories about the aircraft crash.



In 1991 the twin brother of the Australian crew-member died and, in accordance with his last wish, his ashes were brought from Australia by his son and buried in this same grave to lie alongside the remains of his long-lost brother.

            

Many visitors from Denmark and foreign countries come to see our Museum every year.

Enquiries to email vna@andersen.mail.dk
 

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