Danish Spitfire pilot buried close to second world war Norfolk crash site

PUBLISHED: 08:30 28 September 2012

Jens Ipsen pictured in 2005 visiting the site of his plane crash in 1941. Picture: Matthew Usher

Jens Ipsen pictured in 2005 visiting the site of his plane crash in 1941. Picture: Matthew Usher

Archant © 2004

A Danish Spitfire pilot who fought for the allies in the second world war had his dying wish fulfilled when his family had his ashes interned at a cemetery in the Fens.

Around 40 people, including members of the King’s Lynn and Wisbech branches of the Royal Air Forces Association, gathered at St Peter’s church in Upwell to bury the ashes of Jens Ipsen.

The 98-year-old passed away in July in Denmark and his sons, John and Alan, flew to England to fulfil his request for his ashes to be buried close to where he crashed in November 1941.

John said: “He was based at RAF Sutton Bridge and was out on a training exercise when he hit and tree and crashed at Lake’s End.

“My father always said he should have died there all those years ago but he kept on flying. He always said he liked England much more than his own country and although he never admitted it, the years spent here in the RAF were the best of his life.”

Jens flew a total of 109 sorties with the RAF between June 1942 and September 1943. His operational service started with him patrolling southern England, the Channel and northern France.

He then went to Malta with 126 Squadron where he flew convoy defence patrols, bomber escorts, and patrols of the island.

On his return to Denmark after the war, he transferred to the Royal Danish Air Force on its formation in 1950 but left five years later.

John continued: “He always had an affinity with this area and always said he felt more at home here than he ever did in Denmark.

“In 2003, he came back to try and find the site of the crash but couldn’t. I came back with him in 2005 where, with the help of local people, we found it and that was a special day for all of us.”

Referring to the ceremony, he added: “I’m sure he would have approved of this. He would have been so pleased with all the people, including former servicemen, who came out.”

Bill Welbourne, from the Fenland and West Norfolk Aviation Museum, helped Jens’ find his crash site seven years ago. He also helped to organise Wednesday’s ceremony.

He said: “I hope we have given him the best send of we can. He was a very humble man and deserved it.”

Wing Commander Neil Tomlin, from RAF Marham, said: “We felt it was important we should have someone representing Marham here out of respect for someone who wore the same uniform.”

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