Story and photos from the event on the Danish island of Als
We planned that the Stormy Weather Reunion day should take place on the actual field were the plane had crash-landed in 1944. The field was sown with barley, so we had a problem getting enough space for the guests. Fortunately the farmer was also on the arrangement committee and offered to cut down the barley over an area of 2000 square yards.
The day prior to the event we had to check that everything would run smoothly, even to the extent of asking the SAR helicopter from Squadron 722 at Skrydstrup Air Force Base to come and test the heli-pad we had made. It was good that we did this because although the tents could withstand the wind blast from the rotors, everything else was blown away. It was decided that moving the heli-pad further away from the site would be a good idea.
The local military school provided all the tents and seating that we needed. Soldiers from the school helped put up the tents. Altogether they erected 3 tents, 6 x 23 yards in size. Within the tents 2 large tables were made ready for the special guests : Stormy Weather crew, their relatives,the airforce attache from the US embassy, local mayors, officers from the military school in Sonderborg, the helicopter crew, and members of the arrangement commitee. At the other end of the tent we arranged a display with items from Stormy Weather, including clothing and other items sewn from Stormy Weather parachutes. Posters with pictures and storys from the Stormy Weather incident completed the display. Also in the tent were cakes and refreshments provided by the local woman.
Among the items on display outside the tent were a 1:8 scale model of a B-17G, and American Army vehicles from 2nd World War. The entrance route was marked by a line of Danish Flags with many other flags distributed throughout the display area.
At the actual crash site, about 100 yards from the public site, we had a stand with 5 small Danish flags surrounding a centrepiece of a large "Stars and Stripes"
The Danish Airforce Homeguard Orchestra were to play music in between the different events on the programm, and the Danish Police Homeguard was responsible for traffic control..
Agenda for The Stormy Weather Reunion Day:
1. 13:30 The field opens for public. Stormy Weather display open.
2. 13:45 Music starts. Danish Airforce Homeguard Orchestra.
3. 14:00 Arrival of the Military Bus with Stormy Weather Crew and relatives.
Fly over by Cimber Air.
4. 14:07 The guests are seated.
6. 14:08 Helicopter landing.
7. 14:10 Speech by the Mayor of the municipality of Augustenborg.
8. 14:20 Communal singing of the Danish song "Det haver så nyeligt end regnet" .
"It has rained recently" A Danish song from the 2nd World War.
9. 14:30 Presentation of "The Stormy Weather Story" by Mogens Dyre, Sonderborg.
10. 14:50 The Stormy Weather crew recieves order and membership of The Danish Defence
11. 15:00 Communal singing of the Danish National Song "Der er et yndigt land" "There is a
12. 15:10 Speech by the Stormy Weather Pilot, Capt. Robert Clay.
13. 15:20 Coffee and cakes.
14. 15:40 Helicopter take off and display.
15. 16:30 End of day.
The day came.
Many hours had been spent in preperation for the event, the only thing that we had not been able to plan was how many people would show up to celebrate our American guests. I had used every opportunity to ask people thier views on what the turnout would be, their answers ranged from the most pessimistic who said about 200, qualifying this with the statement that the 2nd World War was of interest to only a few, to the most optimistic who said 500 people would attend as everyone they had spoken to had said that they would come.
At 13:15 hours - a quarter of an hour before the official opening, the 300 programs printed for the day was long gone ! At 14:00 hours the Police Homeguard stated that more than 700 cars was parked all the way from Fynshav to Osterholm and that all the alternative parking places were also full. Amazing ! more than 1500 people took part in the "Stormy Weather Reunion Day"
At 14:00 hours the military bus reversed slowly down the small road and along the flag lined alley , the door opened and 4 people in military uniforms with medals came down the stairs. At this point the orchestra played a welcoming fanfare for the men. First out of the bus was Captain Clay closely followed by Frank Hatten, Daniel Surprise and Gilcott. My teams job was now to guide the 4 men safely through the crowd of people to their seats, my collegue Claus guided Capt. Clay, whilst I escorted the other three. A corridor opened up through the the crowd of people leading to the presentation area . As we moved through the crowd, they spontenously started to applaud. What a feeling to be part of this . A journalist and a cameraman from the Danish televison stepped in front of Capt Clay and started interwieving him. I was worried about getting the airmen seated before the helicopter arrival, but Claus managed to push the television people backwards. At 14:07 the airmen were in their places, one minute later a S61 Sikorsky Sea King came in from the north, made a sharp U-turn over the people, flared and landed 70 yards away from us. An airmen in flightsuit and helmet left the helicopter and helped with the shut-down procedure from outside. The engines stopped and the 6 crewmen walked towards the presentation area, they saluted the 4 men from Stormy Weather and sat down on their chairs. After this excellent start the day went from strength to strength, the sun shone, the speeches were good and the food and entertainment very well received..
We had this one chance to arrange a reunion day, and to celebrate the return of our American allies to Denmark. From all the positive reactions we received , I feel that we went someway to thanking the Americans for risking their lives all those years ago.
See a selection of photos from the "Stormy Weather Reunion Day" below.
If you are interested in more and higher resolution pictures of the crash and from the reunion day, you are velcome to e-mail me.
The entrance to The Stormy Weather Reunion Arrangement
The small road from the entrance to the site with the tents and display
In the morning before all the people came. The speakers place with the Danish flag.
Myrholm is seen in the background
1:30 in the afternoon. More than 1500 people came to see
Flags from military and civilian orgaisations
Capt. Clay and his crew arrives
Arrival of the SAR helicopter from the Royal Danish Air Force
The Helicopter crew on the way to the audience.
Helicopter pilot and Stormy Weather Crew
Frank Hatten receives his medal from the Danish Defence Brothers Organisation
Captain Clay is making his speech (right of the flags)
Captain Clay making his speech
The site from the air. 5:24 in the afternoon were the most people are gone. The farm "Skaertoft is seen in the top of the picture. Myrholm in the top right corner, The helicopter pad just outside the audience.
The actual crash site is marked with 5 small flags in the green field close to the road.
The cake table sponsored by locals
A Danish flag from the "Svenstrup Athletic Youth Organisation" The white cross is made from a Stormy Weather parachute. A pilot parachute from Stormy Weather and two dresses also made from a Stormy Weather parachute.
Historic military vehicles on display at the entrance
B-17G 1:8 scale model on display
The audience seen from the helicopter at take off. The military bus was used for transporting during the 4 day visit of the Stormy Weather crew and their families
Robert Clay and Frank Hatten on Myrholm again after 57 years. The two people to the right is Herdis and Peter who was on Myrholm the day Stormy Weather crash landed, and who met the two pilots at that time.
In the kitchen of Myrholm