A DANISH World War Two pilot who survived a plane crash near Upwell more than 70 years ago was laid to rest in the village he regarded as ‘like home’ this week.
Jens Ipsen was just 28 when he crashed his Hurricane fighter plane during a low flying exercise on November 6 1941 at Low Fen Farm, Lakesend, but he never forgot the village he believed saved his life and on Thursday his sons Alan and John brought their father’s ashes from Denmark for interment at Upwell parish church.
Frank Humm, one of those who helped organised Thursday’s service at St Peter’s Church said Jens had visited Upwell several times over the years and often referred to it as like ‘coming home’.
“I think this area is a lot like some parts of Denmark and so it reminded him of home while he was here during the war. He fell in love with Upwell and I think he felt the village saved his life. It was his last wish to have his ashes buried in the village churchyard,” said Frank.
Thursday’s service was attended by many villagers as well as the Wing Commander from RAF Marham, a representative from the Danish Embassy in London and members of the Fenland and West Norfolk Aircraft Preservation Society (FAWNAPS).
FAWNAPS had hosted a visit by Jens to the museum at West Walton in 2005 when he and his son John also visited the crash site and Sutton Bridge, where he was based during the war.
The service, which was conducted by the Rev Alan Jesson, included a hymn and a prayer before the interment ceremony.
Jens’ sons stayed in the village for a few days and were given a brief tour of the area, which had come to mean so much to their father.
Jens died of natural causes in June this year aged 98 having lived a full and eventful life and now a granite plaque engraved with the RAF emblem marks his last resting place.
Organisers of Thursday’s service had hoped to get a Hurricane flypast from the Battle of Britain Memorial flight to mark the sombre occasion but were unable to secure the tribute.
After recovering for six weeks in hospital in Ely after his crash Jens was stationed down south before being shipped to Malta where he saw out the war.
Afterwards Jens returned to Denmark where he flew Seaplanes around Iceland for the Danish air force but he never forgot his time in the Fens and the people who helped him after his crash.