Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Dane's Flight to Freedom

WW II and Lager - what would I do without them? Struggle to find stuff to write about, that's what.

This is a rather unusual escape story, with someone flying out of occupied Europ in their own plane.

To Join Allies

"THEY thought I was another Hess," laughed a young flight lieutenant. Per Perch, when he" told 'Western Daily Press and Bristol Mirror' reporter yesterday how he flew across the North Sea in his Gypsy Moth aircraft to join the Allies.

Flight Lieutenant Perch, who was visiting the Bristol home of Povi Fredcriksen, member of the Danish Council for the West of England, said he had been planning his escape from Denmark ever since the German invasion in 1940.

It was not until a few weeks ago, however, that his preparations were complete. He took off at five the morning, and landed in a stubble field near Edinburgh five hours later.

"The German restrictions regarding pvivately-owned aircraft were very strict." he said. "They had to be partly dismantled, and inspected by the police every fortnight, and the magnetos had to be surrendered. But spite of all this, I somehow managed to keep my Moth airworthy. I collected petrol in small ouantities. and hid it away until I had 32 gallons — enough for flight to England.


"At last all was ready. I put on my uniform of a Danish Army pilot and on a dark and misty morning, with an easterly wind blowing, I took off. I was wearing a safety jacket of the type used by the fishing fleet, and to enable me to withstand the cold as well as possible I wore in addition to my uniform a heavy civil overcoat and thick reefer. In spite of all these precautions, it was a very cold journey.

"To prevent the Germans detecting the 'plane camouflaged the exhaust pipe. The sound of a Moth engine is not conspicuously loud, and I assumed that if it was heard the Germans would believe it was one of their own aircraft flying very high. After the start I kept above the clouds, so that I could dive into them if I met a German fighter.


Flight Lieutenant Perch said he steered by compass, and when the improvised lighting in the cockpit failed he used his hand torch until it was daylight, He came over this country at 900 feet, and landed Cockburnspath south-west of Edinburgh.

"I was immediately surrounded by small boys," he said. "Adults soon arrived, and I was asked whether I was German. They seemed to think I might be another Hess. I assured them I was a Dane, and the farmer on whese field I had landed welcomed me and brought me bread and some coffee.

"I had brought some food with me. but had not touched it, and I had also brought two bottles of lager, one of which I drank. The other I shall raffle for some good cause or other.


"I stayed by my 'plane until the authorities arrived when I was taken to the police station. I was soon aware that is impossible to plunge down to a country at war without giving good proofs of identity."

Flight Lieutenant Perch said he witnessed the outburst of resistance against the Germans in Denmark this year.

"I was in the West Jutland town of Esbjerg when the total strike was declared there," he said, "and I can confirm that the strike was indeed absolute. Everything, even the restaurants, closed down. There were no Danish soldiers there, but the Germans were very nervous, and during the night would patrol the streets with machine-guns, firing at every open window they saw." "
Western Daily Press - Wednesday 22 December 1943, page 3.

I was thinking which label would be appropriate for this story. I was sorely tempted to use a pre-war Carlsberg label, featuring their old trademark. But then I thought better of it. I don't really want to have a swastika on my blog. Could give people the wrong idea. Unlike portraits of Stalin.

Getting back to the story, it sounds like, although he hadn't bothered touching his food on the way over, he had drunk one of the bottles of beer. Was that legal, drinking and flying at the same time? Then again, I'm sure the whole flight wass technically illegal.


Martyn Cornell said...

It always amuses me that the beer John Mills fondles so lovingly in the film Ice Cold in Alex is Carlsberg - there hadn't, of course, been any Carlsberg available to the British since the Nazi invasion of Denmark in April 1940. The beer in the original book was Rheingold from New York - too German-sounding for the film, apparently.

Barm said...

He’s lucky the locals believed he was Danish and not German. If you were German landing a plane in enemy territory you'd claim to be Danish too, wouldn’t you?

Strikes me as unusual that a Scottish farmer in the 1940s would have coffee in the house.