He 111 shot down at Ulvsvåg

Two days after being involved in the bombing of Bodø, the plane and its crew met their destiny flying over Ofotfjorden.

Link to Artur von Casimir's story in German

 

 

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN HEINKEL He 111 H-3, 6N+BA, CRASH LANDED AT ULVSVÅG, NORWAY ON THE 29TH OF MAY 1940?

This story is told by an, at that time, 12 years old girl who was at the center of this dramatic event.

It was a nice sunny day the 29th of May 1940, and my younger sister was going to celebrate her 10 years birthday that day. I was almost 12 years old. The day was to be celebrated in a traditional manner with a birthday party. My mother and my older sister were indoors and laid the tables with cream cakes and other goodies. My father and my brother were away with our fishing boat. They sailed for the Norwegian military. In addition, they brought food and other necessary items to the local community because the roads were blocked. All the kids (guests) were down playing at the beach beneath our house.

Suddenly we heard a heavy firing from machine guns, and saw a large plane approaching. We were used to shooting but not so close. I did not manage to find shelter, but stood as hypnotized and saw that a large bomber was fired on and that it crash landed on the shore nearby. The wheels and undercarriage were torn off when hitting the rocks, sea water splashed over the plane and the noise was tremendous. A small English fighter dived down from the sky several times and fired the machineguns against the German aircraft. I was completely terrified.

The plane came to rest about 100 meters away and I could see the crew start crawling out of the hull. I could even see the marks on their uniforms. Now I decided to run up the hill and into the woods. I noted that my mother had collected the other kids, who had come to celebrate my sister's birthday, and began running in the same direction. After a while I could not see the others, but I continued running, afraid as I was. I assumed that the Germans would shoot us all.

I stopped running when I came to a farm which was located at the top of the hill. The others were still not to be seen. They might have taken a different direction. When I came into the house, the people living there were at home and they seemed calm despite the fact that they had both seen and heard what had happened. They comforted me and said that I should not be afraid, everything would be all right. They had a phone and soon they could tell that the Germans had surrendered. Some of the site's bravest men had gone down to the beach and met Germans who came wading ashore. The Germans handed over their pistols. Two of the Germans were pretty hard wounded, while the other two seemed unharmed. One dead was still in plane, shot through the head. One of the wounded had to be carried ashore. On one foot, most of the leg was shot away. The other had three shots through the arm.

The plane was on fire, especially at the cockpit area. I did not want to go home but, when I had talked to mom on the phone and she said I should come, I went back to our house.

When I returned home, what a sight met me! Our house was surrounded by people. There were at least a hundred spectators. All the doors were opened and people went in and out. When I finally managed to get into the house, I saw a German lying on the divan in the dining room, another was in the second living room and two sat on chairs looking completely normal. They were barefooted because they had stripped off their wet shoes and socks. The wounded were bleeding a lot and it looked terrible. My mother had found some old sheets to use as bandages.

Our house stood empty when the Germans came ashore. The doors were open because we all had fled into the woods, and because our house was nearest to the shore, the men who first met the Germans brought them to us. As I have told before the tables had been made ready for the birthday celebration. What a celebration! People were arguing and had different opinions about what should be done. Someone tried to take command but was contradicted by others.

There was no police or military in the area. I heard a man say that they should cut the head of the prisoners and get rid of them, but I think this person in fact did not have the courage to kill a cat. I also remember that one of those who were evacuated from Narvik had a liquor bottle and danced solo on the kitchen floor. I had to sit on the kitchen counter because there were no vacant chairs.

The Germans had asked for medical attention, and someone had called the doctor who came after a couple of hours. He brought his family with him so they also could see what had happened. He spoke a lot with the Germans. Besides him there were not many who could speak German. Some of those attended wanted to tell the Germans what they thought of them. I remember a man asking his wife what thedevil” was called in German. She had learned some German at school.Teufel” she answered. The man grabbed the German who was shot in the leg by the chest and shoutedTeufel”,Teufel”!

The doctor operated and bandaged the wounded, and I think he did a good job. When finished, he gave orders that the Germans had to get something to eat. It was an easy matter because the food was already at the tables. Many of the spectators also helped themselves and it was almost like a party.

Meanwhile some had call for the police and the military. The Germans should be retrieved as soon as possible, but it took 12 hours before someone came. I thought it was strange that the Germans looked like ordinary people, because I had imagined something completely different.

People were very curious about the plane. When it was low tide we could walk right out to the wreck. The Germans asked the doctor tell the people that there were things on board the plane that could explode, so people should stay away. I remember the doctor standing outside the house and yelling that he was not going to give any treatment to a single person if they were wounded by things from the plane. They had to get away. It did not help much because there were some useful things to be found. Binoculars, gas masks and various other items were lying around. After the fire in the airplane had gone out, one of the men managed to dismantle one of the machine guns.

There was a corpse left on board the aircraft, with a bullet hole in the head. The kids went down to the wreck the next day to watch. It was a fearsome sight. Luckily someone had placed something over his face, but I still remember the blond hair that moved back and forth in the seawater.

The two uninjured Germans went to the shed and picked up two shovels in order to bury their dead friend, but they were stopped. The body was lying in the plane for several days before it was picked up and taken to the cemetery. Meanwhile the kids daily went down to the wreck to have a look. It was a test of courage.

It was a strange night while waiting for the Germans to be transported out of the area. People did not go home, everyone and no one were in charge, but everybody would be sure the Germans did not escape even if they had no place to escape to. The German forces had advanced to the middle of Norway. It was far away. The nearest German forces were in Narvik where they were heavily engaged fighting the allied. Without weapons, food and other equipment the prisoners could not go anywhere.

Suddenly the prisoner who had been shot in the arm woke up. He had been treated by the doctor and now he recovered from the anesthesia. He spoke to us in good Norwegian and told that his grandmother came from Norway. It was quite a surprise. He had understood everything that had been said during the evening and night, and it was not only nice words. His name was Helmut Grubbe.

Finally 5-6 soldiers came in a fishing boat to fetch the prisoners. They were armed but not in uniform, and docked at a quay about 15 minutes to walk from our house. It was strange to see the German’s reaction. They started crying, hugging and saying goodbye to each other. They were convinced they would be shot. It was perhaps not so surprising, because during the evening and night things had been discussed among the Norwegians and Grubbe understood the language.

Now they were told that they would be detained, and that the wounded had to go to a hospital. I later heard that they were sent to Harstad. When they left our home, they were pushed pretty hard through the door by the guards. One of the Germans turned to my mother who was standing on the stairs outside, bowed to her and saiddanke”, “danke”. The hardest wounded was placed on a stretcher and then carried to the dock. It was like a funeral procession. First came the soldiers with their prisoners, and then came all the spectators in a long procession. When they tried to get the German on the stretcher down into the cargo hold at the boat, I heard one shouting that they should just dump him down into the room.

Then it was over and everyone went home. Our house looked like a battlefield with blood all over. My mother hired help for cleaning and tidying the day after.

These are my memories of this event. Maybe others saw it differently. At my present house at Ulvsvåg are both engines of the plane located, and a little bit away from the house is the outermost part of a wing. It is battered but the Swastika is still to be seen. The tail fin is located at the War Museum in Narvik.

Ulvsvåg, October 16, 1986

Alvilde Reisang

Original text by Alvilde Reisang

 

Translation by Arvid Martinussen

 


BodøAviationHistoricalSociety, www.blhf.org