Has a Lancaster bomber been discovered under Denmark’s seas?

A World War 2 aircraft may have been found at the bottom of the sea near the Danish island of Langeland.

Has a Lancaster bomber been discovered under Denmark’s seas?
Photo: Foto-VDW/Depositphotos

The aircraft, discovered in waters off the southern tip of the island, could be a Lancaster, a British bomber used during the 1939-45 war.

Denmark’s Navy has issued a temporary ban on diving, fishing, sailing or anchoring in the area due to the possibility of live ammunition being amongst the wreckage, vice commander of the Royal Danish Navy’s diving unit Bo Petersen told Ritzau.

“We received a civilian report that a diver had seen what looked like the wreckage of an old aircraft. It is probably a Lancaster bomber down there. The diver said there were also objects that could be bombs. We are responding to that,” Petersen said.

The vice commander stressed that the identity of the airplane was yet to be confirmed.

“We can’t go out and check what we’ve been told because there is too much wind and high waves,” he said on Sunday.

But a Navy diving team would be despatched at the earliest possible juncture, he added.

In a tweet, the Danish military confirmed investigation would take place “in the coming days”.

“We’ll dive down to the wreckage and conduct a thorough investigation of the surrounding area for ammunition. We will thereby be able to state whether the area can be re-opened or whether we need to remove the ammunition to make the area secure,” Petersen said.

The Lancaster, a four-engine British bomber, was first produced in 1941.

According to British Royal Air Force figures, 7,377 Lancasters in total were made. After the war, they were used as reconnaissance aircraft until 1956.

There are now only two airworthy examples of the aircraft in the world – one in Canada and one in the UK.

Although the discovery in Danish waters is highly unusual, Petersen noted that a bomber aircraft was also found in the area during the construction of the Great Belt Bridge in the late 1990s.

READ ALSO: Danish schoolboy finds buried German WW2 aircraft and pilot

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Denmark’s German refugees remember forgotten WW2 chapter

Barbed wire and tunnelling beneath it to go and pick flowers outside his refugee camp in Denmark are what Jorg Baden remembers most clearly 75 years on from World War II.

Denmark's German refugees remember forgotten WW2 chapter
A picture taken in 1945 shows German refugees accommodated at the General Motors assembly plant in Sydhavnen, Copenhagen. Photo: AFP

Baden's experience — a largely forgotten chapter of history — was one shared by some 250,000 fellow Germans interned in neighbouring Denmark following the conflict.

Between the ages of five and eight, Baden — now a cheerful German pensioner — was a refugee in Denmark, after his family and tens of thousands of his compatriots fled Germany as the Red Army advanced towards Berlin.

From February 1945 Denmark, then occupied by the Nazis, was forced to take those refugees, the majority consisting of old people, women and children, as well as wounded soldiers.

Mostly spared the fighting, the Scandinavian nation was Berlin's favoured destination for exiles.

The lion's share of the refugees arrived by boat, some of which were torpedoed by the Allies, across the Baltic Sea. They initially ended up in makeshift camps around the country.

After the May 5th “liberation of Denmark by the Allies, the Danish resistance realised that there were about 250.000 German refugees all over Denmark,” accounting for five percent of the population, John Jensen, historian at Varde Museum, told AFP.

Fearing the establishment of a German minority with too much influence, the refugees were gathered up into new larger camps or re-purposed military camps.

Exhausted from the journey and plagued by various illnesses, many refugees died shortly after arriving.

Some never received medical assistance as the Danish Medical Association recommended that its members should refrain from intervening.


“The common thought was if Danish doctors helped a refugee they were indirectly helping the German war machine,” Sine Vinther, historian at Roskilde University, said.

Between 1945 and 1949, when the last refugees left the country, 17,000 died, with 13,000 of those in 1945 alone — 60 percent of whom were children under the age of five. 

According to Vinther that is more than the number of Danes killed during the occupation. 

But even after the end of the occupation, Danish doctors remained hesitant to offer help.

“They could not get rid of their enemy image of Germans… Danish doctors failed their oaths in this period of Danish history,” Vinther told AFP at the Vestre Kierkegaard cemetery in Copenhagen, where more than 5,000 German refugees were laid to rest.

Jorg Baden was one of the lucky ones to receive help. At five years old he came down with diphtheria, but was hospitalised and treated.

“It was a critical time for many children, but I made it through,” the former English and history teacher said.

He recalled his family's hasty escape from Warnemunde in north Germany and the perilous journey across the Baltic to Haderslev in Denmark.

At the end of September 1945, they were transferred the Oksbøl camp — which would come to house up to 37,000 people, becoming the de facto sixth largest town in Denmark.

“We were first accommodated in horse stables which was very primitive… we had very little privacy,” Baden said.

“But my father was asked to teach mathematics… because of that we were allowed to move to a stone house where we had a room for ourselves, running water and flushing toilets which was a great step forward,” Baden, who is now 80, explained.

That was a luxury at the camp which allowed the family to live a “quite unspectacular and normal” life.

The camps were set up on the fringes of Danish society with the authorities aiming to “de-Nazify” the refugees.


“The general idea was to re-educate them to a more democratic way of thinking,” Jensen noted.

According to Vinther, the “refugees were almost prisoners.” 

“Danes were not allowed to interact with German refugees, the German refugees were not allowed to learn Danish or to talk to Danes because they were not supposed to get the feeling that they were wanted,” she said.

However, leaving Denmark took longer than expected.

“The Germans wanted to go back but they weren't welcome in the areas they came from, so the Danes had to negotiate with the Allied powers to repatriate them,” Jensen explained.

Jorg Baden and his family left Denmark for his father's hometown of Duisburg, where he had found work with the British army, in September 1947.

READ ALSO: How Denmark was liberated at the end of WW2