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75th Anniversary

Here is a full transcript of the ceremony held on 15th September 2017 at Torvvika, Norway.

 

PROGRAMME

 

 

 

Welcome

 

Sven Munkejord, Chairman of Kopervik and District Local History Association

 

 

Speech and laying of wreath

Jarle Nilsen, Mayor of Karmøy

 

 

National Anthems

Kopervik Brass Band

 

 

Speech

 

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

 

 

Hymn

 

O bli hos meg/Abide with Me

 

Closing prayers

Kristian Støle, Vicar of Kopervik

 

 

 

                               

Transcript 

 

(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)

 

 

Welcome by

Sven Munkejord

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

Jarle Nilsen.

_____________________________________________________________

 

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

ceremony today.

 

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

crash spot.

 

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

German record:

 

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

like that.

 

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.

 

 

 

                           

National

Anthems

Kopervik

Brass Band

& audience

 

 

God save our gracious Queen 

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,
som det stiger frem,
furet, værbitt over vannet,
med de tusen hjem, —
elsker, elsker det og tenker
på vår far og mor
og den saganatt som senker
drømmer på vår jord.
Og den saganatt som senker,
senker drømmer på vår jord.

 

 

David Venner

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

this commemoration.

 

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

 

 

 

Poems by

pupils

of Stokka

strand

Skøle

 

spoken by

Benjamin

Solås,

Sofie

Fikstveit,

Florentina-

Elena Primac and Martha 

Moldestad

 

Syskenringen

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

Siblings ring

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

mother.

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 free

And that its freedom must be

guaranteed,

We have a country that is mine

and yours,

And this our country is called

Norway.

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

www.heiverden.no

 

Stokkastrand Skøle collects money for them every other year. 

 

 

Children’s World

 

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

in  Norwegian

and English

 

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

 

 

Closing prayers

 

 

Kristian Støle

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

Amen

 

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

Amen

 

           Note: part of the ceremony can be viewed by following this link

           https://hnytt.no/2017/09/15/se-direkte-skutt-karmoy-minnemarkering-                         kopervik/  

 

 David Venner    October 2017

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