The English Airman.
(Article in The 49 Squadron Association Magazine October 2008)
I remember we were standing late in the evening on the road at my home, a farm some 15 miles west of Flensburg, my parents, my sister, my brother and me. I was 10 years old. We looked at the searchlights swinging in the sky over Flensburg. The FLAK was firing, heavy FLAK exploding on the top and light FLAK streaming upwards in rows of fireballs. It looked very much like a huge New Years fireworks. To my father, my brother and me it was an exiting event, but my mother and my sister found it awful.
All the time we heard aircraft passing over a bit to the north heading eastwards, exactly the track Nicholas Pollock in 1998 draw on a map to me for the attack on Rostock.
Next day in school someone told that a big English bomber had crashed and burned out at Visgård some five miles away. My friends and I made up to go to the crash site. But in the next night another English bomber – a Short Stirling from No. 15 Squadron I later found out – crashed at my home. Pieces from the aircraft were spread all over the fields round our farm. No reason to go to Visgård, and I missed to see the wreck of the 106 Manchester. Two airmen were killed in the crash of the Stirling at our farm.
In August my father went to the horse market at Kliplev to sell our two foals. Home again he told, that he met someone on the market who told, that as their foal was born and they were helping the mare, they saw someone looking into the stable through the window. They went out and found an English airman outside the stable. This told much to my fantasy. Very exiting! Why could such not happen to us in my home? All my life I have thought of this. Who was this airman, and what happened to him? Did he survive the war?
Now a lieutenant in the RDAF, I read Guy Gibson’s book Enemy Coast Ahead. In his book Gibson tells about a young pilot, P/O Harry M. Stoffer. He was killed in action few days after his wedding. My service at that time was in SOC West, Sector Operation Centre West, in the RDAF, and I really understood the situation: Mary Stoffer at the Operation Board writing in the time for returning aircraft.
I went to the cemetery at Aaberaa to see the graves of the two airmen, who were killed in the crash of the English Short Stirling bomber at my home. I found the headstones, but Oh dear! This can’t be true! Between the two stones was another headstone with the name H. M. Stoffer! Really a surprise it was! Could it be Harry Murdoch Stoffer from Guy Gibsons book? A research stated, that he really was the pilot mentioned in the book, and – a new surprise – he was killed in the crash at Visgård, which I remembered.
In April 1992 it was 50 years anniversary of the crash at Visgård. I wrote an article about the crash told after Guy Gibson’s book. The article was published in a Danish aircraft magazine.
Just retired I gave the article to a newspaper. This ended up with a contact to Desmond Richards, Secretary and Historian of No. 106 Squadron Association. Des wrote that he knew a crewmember from Stoffer´s crew, Squadron Leader Nicholas Pollock. Unfortunately I did not make anything about this information. I thought that I knew everything of interest about this crash.
I got copies from Des of three pages from Poul Brickhill’s book “Escape to Danger”. A new surprise! I read, that the airman Nick from Stoffer’s crew came to a farm and through a window saw a foal being born. Nicholas Pollock must be the airman I had heard about and often thought of all my life! Now nothing could stop me! I had to meet this airman! I found the farm, and I met the farmer’s daughter. In 1942 she was 14 years old. She clearly remembered the English airman, who in an early morning came to her home. Her parents, her brother and she did not speak English, and the only word they understood was “Sweden”, a word the airman repeated again and again. They were unable to help and called the civilian authorities, which again informed the Danish police, she told.
I took contact to Des Richards. He promised to introduce me to Nicholas Pollock, and in September 1998 we met at Swindon. I gave Nicholas Pollock pictures of the farm and the family and a little piece from the wreck of Manchester IA L7463. “I really wish I could pay a visit to this farm again!” Nicholas said, and we made up to arrange a visit to Denmark as soon as possible. “Keep in touch as long as memory serve!” Nicholas said as we parted. We really did!
From the 10th to the 20th of May 1999 Nicholas visited Denmark and we saw persons and places he and his crew fellows met in 1942. He stayed with us during this visit, and in a way a wish from my childhood came true.
My wife Ingelisa and I had 10 unforgettable days together with Nicholas. Later we twice visited Nicholas in his home at Westbury, UK. We all the time since Nicholas’ visit here were in close contact through letters and calls on telephone.
Nickolas Pollock died the 5th of August 2007 nearly 90 years old.