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Here is a full transcript of the ceremony held on 15th September 2017 at Torvvika, Norway.
Sven Munkejord, Chairman of Kopervik and District Local History Association
Speech and laying of wreath
Jarle Nilsen, Mayor of Karmøy
Kopervik Brass Band
David Venner, nephew of Sergeant Raymond Alvey
Laying of wreath and crosses
David Venner and John Jardine on behalf of the families of the airmen
Poems and song
Pupils of Stokkastrand School
O bli hos meg/Abide with Me
Kristian Støle, Vicar of Kopervik
(with thanks to the following for providing words, translations and
photographs: Mrs Elia Aase and pupils of Stokkastrand School, Mrs
Inger Fikstveit, Mr John Jardine, Mr Sven Munkejord, Mayor Jorle Nilsen,
Mr Kåre Nilsen and Ms Sue Williamson)
Chair, Kopervik and District Local History Association
Speech and laying of wreath by Jarle Nilsen
Mayor of Karmøy Kommune
Good morning, my name is Mr Sven Munkejord. It is an
honour and a privilege, in the capacity of Chair of the Local
History Association of Kopervik, to wish each and every one
of you welcome to attend this ceremony to commemorate
those four brave, young English airmen who gave their lives
for our freedom here on 22nd November 1942. Their names
are Sqdn Ldr John Hird, Sgt Raymond Alvey, Sgt Davidson
Hepplewhite and Sgt Robert Coles.
A particular welcome is extended to our six guests
from England who represent the families of two of
those airmen: Mr David Venner – nephew of Sgt Alvey
– and David’s wife Sue; Mr John Jardine – nephew of
Sqdn Ldr Hird – and John’s wife Sandy, their son
Freddie and John’s sister Joy, niece of Sqdn Ldr Hird.
A particular welcome also to the Mayor of Karmøy,
Mr Jarle Nilsen; to the pupils from Stokkastrand
School and their Principal, Mrs Elia Aase; to the
members of Kopervik Brass Band and to the Vicar
of Kopervik Parish, Mr Kristian Støle.
I will try to guide us through our programme, and now
commence by giving the microphone to the Mayor, Mr
Many thanks for the invitation to be part of this
commemoration ceremony. My thanks also to Mr
David Venner (nephew of one of the victims in the
plane crash) who sought information about the tragic
plane crash here 75 years ago. His initiative then
eventually resulted in the involvement of the Local
History Association of Kopervik – represented by Mrs
Inger Fikstveit and its present Chair Mr Sven
Munkejord in organizing this commemoration
Let us in our imagination travel back in time to the
evening of 22nd November 1942. The evening is dark,
yet clear and Kopervik is about to go to rest. Flying in
from the north at low altitude over the narrow
Karmsund the noise of roaring engines of a Hampden
bomber breaks the silence. On board are four young
English airmen, homeward bound after a mission
north of Haugesund.
The airplane seems to have taken some damage
already. When the plane reaches Kopernaglen lantern,
German anti-aircraft batteries on Oestremneset open
fire. Track lights can be seen to go straight through
the plane. It explodes into a huge ball of flames.
Eyewitnesses to the incident, one of whom is with us
here today, say that a loud, sharp thundering sound
could be heard as the aircraft hit the ground, and that
the neighbouring houses were shaken. Windows were
shattered in houses located up to 200 meters from the
Suddenly everything was in flames. Burning fuel and
shrapnel rained down on house roofs. A long, heavy
stump of metal hit the wooden wall planking of a
house only a few feet from where two people were
standing by the window. Two large aircraft engines
broke down a boathouse.
I quote from RAF Operations Record Book - No. 144 Squadron
and Krieges Tag Buch 1942 Admiral der Westküste, the
Aircraft type: Handley Page Hampden Mk. I
Serial number: P2063
Squadron: 144 RAF
Shot down: 22.11.42
Crew: Sqdn/Ldr Pilot - John Richard Darbyshire Hird
Sgt William Hepplewhite Davidson, Navigator
Sgt Raymond Henry Alvey, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner
Sgt Robert John Coles, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner
Crash site: Torvikja sør for Kopervik, Karmøy
According to RAF 144 Squadron's Operations Record Book,
on 22 November 1942, four Hampden planes took off from the
airfield in Wick, in the north of Scotland. The mission was to
find and bomb relevant ships along the Norwegian coast,
south of Bergen. P2063 undertook a similar operation on
November 19, 1942.
According to the German war diaries for 1942 two enemy
warplanes were observed south of Bergen in the period
between 7:40 p.m. and 8:25 p.m. The planes flew southwards.
Rocket parachute lights were observed over the Selbjoernsfjord
and two detonations heard.
Hampden P2063 flew southwards along the Karmsund, and was
shot at from anti-aircraft positions. The other three planes
returned to Wick and only one of them had dropped bombs,
presumably in the Selbjoernsfjord area.
Quote from Operations Record Book: ‘Since taking off - no
news has been received from the following aircraft - and it is
therefore considered missing.’
The will of resistance was strong during the Second World War.
Today we honour four young men, our allies who would rather
fight and risk their lives than give in and bow to terror, tyranny,
ethnic cleansing and occupation. It takes courage to stand up
These fine young people must have held a strong moral and a
deep-rooted belief in what is right and what is wrong, and that
it was imperative to fight against Nazi destruction.
The senior generation of whom some might also have
experienced the war is concerned that children and young
people must learn from history. The occupation years from
1940 to 1945 must never be forgotten. The history must be
conveyed to our descendants. May we all, each and every one
of us stay motivated to fight for peace, freedom and democracy.
Dear relatives and family from England: now having the honour
of meeting you here today, after having had the opportunity of
learning what your ancestors have been involved in during the
years of war, those days appear closer to me as well. It is not,
however, possible to fully comprehend and to share what each
and every one of your soldier family members had to go
through and what you as next of kin have had to endure during
all these years. Freedom is not something one gets – it is
something one must fight to achieve and fight to keep. We have
learned that freedom must be guarded and protected.
In 1867 Mr. Christian Richard, a Danish priest and poet wrote
the song «Alltid freidig hvor du går». Two lines of verse in this
song represent a good summary of the efforts of the four brave
young men whom we commemorate today. ”Kjemp for alt hva
du har kjaert, død om så det gjelder” = "Fight for all that you
love and hold dear; and – if needed – die in so doing.” This
memorial site is erected in honour of those who gave their lives
in the struggle for freedom, democracy and human dignity.
By laying down these flowers will we remember the fallen
with respect, gratitude and admiration, and we will honour
both their life and death.
Long live our noble Queen
God save the Queen.
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen.
Ja, vi elsker dette landet,
nephew of Sgt Raymond Alvey
speaking on behalf of the families of the four airmen
75 years ago, in November 1942, four aircraft from the British
Royal Air Force took off from northern Scotland, on a mission to
lay mines here in the Karmsund. The weather was bad – unlike
today - with rain, sleet and snow. Only three of the aircraft
returned to their base. The other was hit by anti-aircraft fire,
exploded in the air and crashed here on Karmøy.
Four young men lost their lives in that crash and we are here
today to remember them. Their names are listed on the plaque
and I’d like to say a few words about each of them:
Squadron Leader John Richard Darbyshire Hird was the pilot. He
was 24 and apparently was very popular with his fellow airmen.
He was considered to be one of the finest pilots in his squadron.
His family lived in Southeast England and some of his relatives
are with us today.
The navigator of the aircraft was Sergeant Davidson William
Hepplewhite, aged 27, married to Myra. They came from
Portsmouth in Southern England. His relatives were not able to
come to Norway but they send their good wishes and thanks for
Sergeant Robert John Coles, one of the Wireless Operator/Air
Gunners, was 26, married to Ethel, and they came from Croydon,
south of London. He was a draughtsman and also a keen
footballer and walker. Sadly we have not been able to make
contact with his relatives.
Finally, Sergeant Raymond Henry Alvey, my uncle, was the other
Wireless Operator/Air Gunner. He was the youngest member of
the crew, aged just 22, and was the son of George and Marguerite
Alvey, who lived near Nottingham. Raymond was a telephone
engineer before the war, and was a keen sportsman and cyclist.
I think it is wonderful that this is a joint commemoration,
involving people from this community as well as representatives
of the families of the airmen who gave their lives in the cause of
freedom. During my research into this tragic event, it has become
very clear to me that our two countries were and continue to be
very close allies. When your country was under German
occupation, Britain came to your aid. When British airmen who
survived some of the other crashes that occurred here in Norway,
and were in need of help, your people risked their own lives to
give them that help.
You have continued to remember the lives that were lost and
have looked after the sites of memorials such as this one at
Torvvika. So, on behalf of the families of the airmen can I thank
you for all you have done in the past and also for joining us today
at this special commemoration.
I would like to finish by reciting a verse from the poem ‘For the
Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon. These words are often spoken in
services of remembrance in Britain and I believe they were also
spoken by Henry Hird, a brother of the pilot, when this plaque
was erected in 1988:
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them
Elena Primac and Martha
Ein natt då eg låg og drøymde
Drøymde eg om eit band.
Eit band som gjekk over all
Grensor, og alle land.
Ein drøymer så mangt. Men undren vart eg vel då eg fekk sjå,
At dette eg trudde var eit band
Tok til å livna – og gå
Då såg eg tusentals hender
Hekta i hop til eit band.
Som gjekk over all grensor,
Og gjekk gjennom alle land.
Det var både ung og gammal,
Det var småborn med far og mor.
Dei laga så sterk ein syskenring
Som rokk kring den heile jord.
Poem by Jan Magnus Bruheim
Spoken by Benjamin Solås and Sofie Fikstveit
One night when I lay and dreamed
I dreamed about a band.
A band that covered all
boundaries, and all countries.
One dreams so much. But wonder
Where I am when I see you
That this trustee was a band
Took to live - and go
Then I saw thousands of hands
Joined in hope to a band
As over all boundaries,
And through all countries.
It was both young and old,
It was small ones with father and
They make such a strong ring
Like rock around the whole earth.
Vi vil oss et land
Vi vil oss et land som er frelst og fritt
Og ikke sin frihet må borge,
Vi vil oss et land som er mitt og ditt,
Og dette vårt land heter Norge.
Og har vi ikke
Det land ennu
Så skal vi vinne det,
Jeg og du.
Poem by Per Silve
Spoken by Florentina-Elena Primac
We want a country
We want a country that is safe
And that its freedom must be
We have a country that is mine
And this our country is called
And we do not have
That country yet
Then we'll win it,
Me and you.
Poem about Peace
No enemies, just friends
No fight, no war, no arguments
and no killing. Only harmony
and no one must escape from
their home. Peace in every country.
Everyone is allowed to go to school.
No enemies, just friends.
Written and spoken in English by Martha Moldestad
Song by pupils
of Stokkastrand Skøle
This song ‘Barnas Verden’ (Children’s World) was written for the organisation ‘Hei verden’ (Hello World) that works for education in developing countries
Stokkastrand Skøle collects money for them every other year.
Children in the world sing about peace
And they want the adults to join in
There is a world outside TV somewhere
A place where children can sing, dance, play and laugh.
Children have the right to go to school
Children are right time and again
Children have friends they care about
Who asked them when the war came?
What if grown-ups remembered
That they were young once
Then the world would have been a better place
Children really deserve those rights.
Words and music by Trond Magnum
Hymn - sung simultaneously
Accompanied by Kopervik Brass Band
O bli hos meg! Nå er det aftentid,
Og mørket stiger – dvel, O Herre blid!
Når annen hjelp blir stov og duger ei,
Du, hjelpeløses hjelper, bli hos meg!
Hver time trenger jeg din sterke vakt,
Kun for din nade viker mørkets makt;
Hvor skal jeg vandre trygt foruten deg?
I mulm og solskinn, Herre, bli hos meg!
O la meg se ditt kors i dødens gys,
Driv mørket bort og vær meg livets lys!
Da skinner morgenrøden på min vei;
I liv og død, O Herre, bli hos meg!
Abide with me, fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee;
Help of the helpless, oh abide with me.
I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempters pow’r?
Who like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me
Vicar of Kopervik
Ever-living God, we remember those whom you have gathered
from the storm of war into the peace of your presence.
May that same peace calm our fears, bring justice to all peoples
and establish harmony among the nations.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
O God of truth and justice
We hold before You these men
who have died in active service here in Torvvika 75 years ago.
As we honour their courage and cherish their memory,
may we put our faith in Your future
for You are the source of life and hope,
now and for ever
Note: part of the ceremony can be viewed by following this link
David Venner October 2017