Halifax bomber supporting SOE Operations in Denmark

BB375 crew

Crew of Halifax BB378

On the night of 10-11 December 1943, a Halifax II bomber (BB 378) of No.138 Special Duty Squadron took off from RAF Tempsford in Buckinghamshire to commence Operation Tablejam 18 and Tablejam 19 to support the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the Danish Resistance.

Tablejam 18 was the dropping of SOE agent Flemming B. Muss by parachute near Ringsted Gyldenløves before proceeding to another remote location (Tabletop 19) to drop nine containers of weapons near lake Tisso where members of the resistance were waiting delivery. Whilst approaching the first drop zone (Tablejam 18) the Halifax was intercepted by a night fighter said to be a JU 88 and during the attack the Halifax caught fire and at  01:54 hours crash landed on farmland near   Ugerløse.

Halifax BB 376

The wreck of Halifax BB 378 (Federal German Archives)

The  crew were unhurt and after freeing themselves from the wreckage decided to split up to evade German forces, but another account states the SOE agent was successfully dropped and the Halifax was shot down whilst approaching the second drop zone (Tablejam 19).

  With help from Dutch civilians and later by members of an escape line the pilot Peter Barter, navigator Joe Fry and wireless operator Bill Howell eventually reached the safety of Sweden.

Although flight sergeants Nick Anderson (engineer), Brian Atkins (second pilot/bomber), Sydney Smith (mid upper gunner) and Ralph Riggs (rear gunner) received assistance from members of the local community they were eventually denounced by a farmer and were fortunate to be taken into custody and questioned by the Luftwaffe not the Gestapo which had responsibility for countering resistance and special duty air crews came under their jurisdiction.

SOE agent Flemming Muss is know to have continued his resistance work and was later SOE’s senior agent in Denmark. His wife Varinka was also a member of the resistance and his mother Monica is thought to be the first Danish woman executed by the Germans for being a member of the resistance.  

muss

Flemming B. Muss

Author: Alan Malcher

Military historian and defence commentator

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