Lancaster W4330
460 SQUADRON RAAF

 

Aircraft code: UV-H

Date: 21 April 1943

Mission: Bombing, Stettin

Crash Site: North of Vestbirk, near Horsens in east part of Jutland.

Crew:

F/Sgt Kenneth James RAAF Pilot KIA
F/Sgt Brian Finnane RAAF KIA
F/Sgt Bruce H. Harvey RAAF KIA
F/Sgt Bruce M. Muir RAAF KIA
Sgt Ben Smith RAF KIA
Sgt William D. Mayoh RAF KIA
F/O Edward A. Mahoney RAAF KIA

Remarks: Most of crew just arrived fresh from HCU and this was their first op. They took of at 21:39 hours, carrying one 4000 pounder and incendiaries. At 03:30 hours people in Vestbirk woke up as a low flying aircraft flew west, followed by a nightfighter that kept firing at it. Soon the Lancaster started to burn and it went down right away. The crew were buried at the Esbjerg Cemetery on the 30th April 1943.

lund07.jpg (61540 bytes)
The end for W4330 and its crew.

 

The following report on the above incident is from Peter Firkins book "Strike and Return":-

"This was followed by the attack on Stettin which was almost a maximum effort by Bomber Command and although it was regarded as being highly successful the crews met withering defences all along the route."

"Another three crews from the squadron were lost, those of Flight Sergeants K. James and R.S. Hogben, and Sergeant W.F. Pridgeon.  It was Pridgeon's first operation, and, besides those lost, several more aircraft were badly damaged."

 


 

The following details are from the Commonwealth War Graves home page:-

They are all buried at ESBJERG (FOURFELT) CEMETERY, Denmark.

Esbjerg is a major port on the west coast of Jutland. From the harbour area, travelling north towards Hjerting on Hjertingvej, take the right fork into Gravlundvej and the cemetery is on the right side. Approaching the cemetery on Gravlundvej the CWGC plot can be seen on the right just behind the red brick chapel.

In Memory of

KENNETH JAMES

Flight Sergeant
408656
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on Wednesday, 21st April 1943. Age 23.

Son of Albert Victor George and Annie James, of Black Rock, Victoria, Australia.

Grave Reference/Panel Number: A. 11. 17.

 

In Memory of

BRIAN FINNANE

Flight Sergeant
413482
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on Wednesday, 21st April 1943. Age 22.

Son of James Albany Finnane and Mary Anne Finnane, of Bondi, New South Wales, Australia.

Grave Reference/Panel Number: A. 11. 19.

 

In Memory of

BRUCE HAROLD HARVEY

Flight Sergeant
412957
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on Wednesday, 21st April 1943. Age 21.

Son of Robert George and Matilda Ellen Harvey, of Temora, New South Wales, Australia.

Grave Reference/Panel Number: A. 11. 22.

 

In Memory of

BRUCE MONTAGUE MUIR

Flight Sergeant
409175
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on Wednesday, 21st April 1943. Age 20.

Son of David Montague Muir and Harriett Ann Muir, of Elsternwick, Victoria, Australia.

Grave Reference/Panel Number: A. 11. 18.

 

In Memory of

BEN SMITH

Sergeant
1475502
Flt. Engr.
460 (R.A.A.F.) Sqdn, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
who died on Tuesday, 20th April 1943. Age 21.

Son of Alonza and Maud Smith, of Hinckley, Leicestershire.

Grave Reference/Panel Number: A. 11. 16.

Note:- Ben Smith is shown above as dying on 20 April 1943 based on information from the Commonwealth War Graves information. All of the other crew members are shown as dying on the 21 April 1943 on the CWGC web site.

 

In Memory of

WILLIAM DENNIS MAYOH

Sergeant
1128672
W.Op./Air Gnr.
460 (R.A.A.F.) Sqdn, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
who died on Wednesday, 21st April 1943. Age 20.

Son of Isaac and Doris Ethel Mayoh, of Stalybridge, Cheshire. A ll

Grave Reference/Panel Number: 20

 

In Memory of

EDWARD ALAN MAHONEY

Flying Officer
405921
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on Wednesday, 21st April 1943. Age 21.

Son of Allan Simon and Edith Mary Mahoney, of Gympie, Queensland, Australia.

Grave Reference/Panel Number: A. 11. 21.

 


 

Subject:    Allied operations over Denmark
Date:             Thu, 27 Apr 2000 20:37:44 -0400
From:           Dave Smith <adavid.smith@sympatico.ca>

Peter,

I stumbled across your site this evening while surfing the net for information on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site in Svino, Denmark. I don't have any specific information on 460 Squadron, but thought that you would be interested in a related matter. It is possible that my father may have witnessed the downing of one of their aircraft, Lancaster W4330 on April 21, 1943 over Jutland. The information on your site is even more interesting, having attended the grave site in Svino last May.

The story, for me, started in 1968. I was a teenager who knew that my father had been in the air force where he worked on ground crew servicing Spitfires and Hurricanes. I knew that he had some war injuries, but he never spoke about them. As it turned out, the injury was pieces of shrapnel that he had to go and have removed occasionally.

I knew nothing about his flight crew experiences until 1968 when my mother heard an announcement on the radio that a gentleman from Denmark, Jorgen Helme, was trying to locate him. At my mother's request, he fetched a little black booklet and read us his account of being shot down.

My father, Donald Smith, was a sergeant in the RCAF and was a flight engineer in a Sterling bomber with 7th Squadron Pathfinders . Their crew was a mix of Canadian and British fliers. In addition to the regular crew, there was an extra pilot, a Canadian who was new to the squadron and was sent along with them for an orientation flight.

The raid on April 20-12, 1943 was one of the biggest raids of the war, a birthday surprise for Hitler. His detailed account of that night's raid and the subsequent events describes heavy flak over Jutland, and he saw four planes go down on the way over.

Their target that night was Stettin, and their mission was to mark the target area with incendiaries, and then to circle around and join the rest of the formation to drop explosives. They arrived a little ahead of time and had to circle around to make a second run on the target, and during that second approach, their aircraft sustained flak damage to one of the starboard engines. Unable to control the plane well enough to mark the target reliably, the pilot decided to abort and leave the marking to the backup aircraft. They headed back. Having trouble maintain control and altitude, and finding themselves over a German air base, they dropped their bombs around the hangar area and strafed the field with .303, then headed toward the sea and along the Belt.

Spotting flak ships ahead, the pilot veered toward land and the crew were advised to watch out for enemy aircraft. My father was sent to the astrodome, and within a short time, he spotted a ME 110, which immediately turned and fired on them, setting the wings on fire with cannon fire. The pilot advised then instructed the crew to bail out.

Due to the presence of the extra pilot on board that night, my father had been instructed to use the rear escape hatch in case of an emergency, and the escape procedures had been reviewed before take off. As he headed for the hatch, the plane lurched into a steep dive , just as the night fighter made a second pass and opened up on their bomber. Dad was thrown back against the bulkhead as a burst of cannon fire raked the fuselage. With the plane in a steep dive, he had only the cannon holes in the fuselage for hand and leg holds to climb up to the hatch.

When he got to the hatch, the wireless operator was already there, but seriously wounded. Dad attached a static line to the man, but as soon as he opened the hatched, he was yanked out of the plane by the draft. He regained his senses in time to pull the rip cord, at very low altitude. He and the plane hit the ground at almost the same time. The tail gunner had been firing at the night fighter all the way down.

He landed in a freshly plowed field, packed up his chute and started to run, stopping along the way to bury it. He saw the German lorries coming to check out the crash and hid in a ditch as they passed. He then continued in a more or less easterly direction toward Copenhagen. It took him several days to reach Glostrup by foot. He stopped and asked for help each day, and was lucky enough to have run into good people who may not have always been in a position to help, but at least gave him food. Lucky for him, some offered full meals. When he got to Glostrup, he was helped by a school teacher who took him by train to Elsinore, the closest point to Sweden. He was left to fend for himself there.

He wandered around looking for a boat and was prepared to give himself up when he took a chance and approached a house that was flying a Danish flag. The man took him in and contacted a friend who had Resistance connections. After being subjected to verification of his identity and status, the Resistance workers set about finding a boat to get him across to Sweden.

Dad was teamed up with a young police cadet, Lars Troen who had escaped from the Gestapo. He had got away by feigning illness and then escaping from the hospital. The Resistance workers obtained (stole) a dilapidated kayak, and Dad and Lars paddled across to Sweden. Another British flyer had perished a few weeks earlier while attempting the same crossing.

Upon reaching Sweden, Dad became the first Allied airman to escape from occupied Denmark. He went to the British consulate and then had to turn himself in to the Swedish authorities who arrested him for illegal entry. He spent a few days in jail and was then released. Because he was not in uniform, he was allowed to return to Britain. On the train to Stockholm, he met some Allied airmen who were on their way to an internment camp. Within a few days, he was repatriated, flying on a commercial airliner from Stockholm to Scotland.

It was quite an adventure for a young man, but it must have been an awful trauma for him to have kept it to himself. Perhaps he thought no one would believe the determination and luck that it took for him to survive.

After contacting Jorgen Helme in Denmark, my parents made a trip over there in 1968 and were taken along the escape route where Dad got to meet some of the people who had helped him along the way.

Early in 1993, my father was diagnosed with cancer and was preparing to undergo therapy for it. It was a low point in his life, but his spirits picked up when he was invited back to Denmark to attend the unveiling of a monument to his crew at Kongsmerk, about 10 km north of Korsor.

My father died in October of 1998. He had asked that his body be cremated and interred alongside the graves of his crew mates. We didn't know where to begin, but we lucked out when we received a letter from an expatriate Brit living in Glostrup, Ron Wellings, who had attended the unveiling. We replied with the news about Dad's death and wondered if he knew who to contact in order to carry out Dad's wishes. Ron was terrific. He made some calls over there and connected us with the CWGC in Belgium,. but he had also contacted the British Embassy.

The CWGC granted permission, but there were conditions. There could be no ceremony, no commemoration and no publicity. The embassy staff worked out an arrangement where Dad's ashes could be buried just outside the boundary of the commission's portion of the cemetery. We had hoped to do this on April 21, the anniversary of the crash. The embassy requested that we postpone it until May 5, and do it in conjunction with the Liberation Day ceremonies at Svino.

I arrived in Denmark with Dad's ashes on May 1, and two of my brothers and their wives joined me the next day. Jorgen Helme picked me up at the airport and took me for a tour of the city, showed me places Dad had been on his escape adventure, then up the coast to Skodsburg to see the beach from which he and Lars had set off for Sweden. He showed me the restaurant where Lars and Dad had a last meal before setting off, and the Americana Hotel, a favourite haunt of German officers, where Sylvia had taken Dad for a drink.

We were invited to a wreath laying ceremony at the crash site in Kongsmerk. We were surprised to see several towns people present. We met with the sister of the pilot, who had come over for the ceremonies with her daughter and son in law. We walked through the field where the plane crashed and were amazed to find pieces of the aircraft. The farmer who owns it told us that he plows up more and more of it every year. His grandfather owned it at the time of the crash and had told him about it. Afterward, we were taken back to the town meeting hall and fed a wonderful lunch and read an account from George Rasmussen, a farm worker who had helped Dad. George wrote about how he came back to get Dad early in the morning and had been jumped by the nervous airman who held a knife to his throat.

Later that day, we drove up to meet Sylvia and Jyner Tjorne, an elderly couple who had been heavily involved in the Resistance. Sylvia had taken Dad sightseeing around Copenhagen in 1943, and we have some of the pictures they took, including one of Dad and Lars pointing across the sound to Sweden. Sylvia and Jyner had to escape from Denmark themselves later that year.

The interment service was held in the early afternoon of May 5 at Svino. There were representatives from the British embassy, our Canadian embassy, the Danish Home Guard, and a host of television and newspaper reporters. There was a couple from New Zealand present. The husband's brother had been killed in a crash during that night's raid. Also in attendance was a retired British air force officer who had moved to Denmark and had read about the services, and an elderly Dane who rode 2 1/2 hours on a bicycle to attend.

After the interment, we were invited back to the vicarage for a dinner with 60-70 people, and later, back to the church for the Liberation Day ceremonies. I think people would be amazed at the turnout for that event. there were hundreds of people who had come for miles. Svino is just a tiny village, a long way from any large towns. Obviously, there is still a lot of respect and gratitude for the Allied effort to liberate Denmark.

I apologize if I have rambled here, and I hope I have not bored you with the tale of my father's escape. I just wanted you to know that your site has been a real inspiration to me. I am returning to Svino in May 2001. I am making note of the members of this squadron and will look for their markers when I am there. If you ever get a chance to go to Svino I am sure that you will be impressed. The people of Denmark are very proud to take wonderful care of the graves and show their respect even to this day.

Attached is a photo of the church at Svino

Sincerely
Dave Smith

svino.jpg (23153 bytes)
Church at Svino
Liberation Day Ceremony in 1999

 


 

Subject:    Allied operations over Denmark
Date:             Thu, 27 Apr 2000 17:39:29 -0400
From:           Dave Smith <adavid.smith@sympatico.ca>

Hi Peter,

Are you familiar with Jorgen Helme in Denmark. I was under the impression that he was the leading expert in downed allied aircraft over Denmark. It was his tracing of the crash of my father's plane that he learned of his escape, and how I came to know about it. he told me more about Dad's escape adventure than Dad ever told me.

Dave

 


 

Subject:     Vestbirk W4330
Date:              Fri, 3 Nov 2000 21:46:42 +1100
From:           "Brian Olesen" <brianol@compassnet.com.au>

Hello, Peter,

I wonder if you are interested in this view of the crash site of W4330, the way it looks now. An old couple, in their 80es, walk the approx. 1km to tend the site at least once a week, when the weather is clement. When I saw the monument last year, the ground around the stone had obviously been raked in the latest 2-3 days, and plants and flowers tended to. It is a stark contrast to the picture of the crash site on your pages.

I have some other pics which you might be interested in. Let me know, and I will attach one at a time to make dispatch and receipt a little easier.

Regards, Brian

w4330a.jpg (38089 bytes)

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

I need your help

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This page first produced 10 January 1998

This page last updated 11 February 2015