The funeral in Malmö
On November 1st, 1944 the remains of the six airmen were buried at the ceremonial place at the East Cemetery in Malmö, under military honors.
Among those who honored the burial with their presence, were the American Consul B.R. Riggs and vice consul Brown, American Col. Gruel and Lt. Col. Filkins and Maurice A. Marrs, the later commanding officer for the unit that flew the Sonnie operations. The Swedish Armed Forces were represented by Col. Sillén and Zachrisson with chiefs of staff. A troop of American fliers staying at Bulltofta honored the dead with their presence as well.
They gathered east of the ceremonial place and while the Lv4 Music Corps played Karl XV mourning march, the officials paraded in followed by the others. Thereafter, a protestant burial was performed. This was done by Malmö Army Command Pastor V. Almgren, who spoke in English the words in Luke 12 verse 40 "So be you also ready because at a moment which you do not know the son of man shall come". The burial was followed by an honor salute from an honor platoon of Malmö Army Commands troops. The burial closed with the Swedish psalm 580, verse 1 and 3.
Thereafter followed burial of the Catholic believer O.J. Ragland, which the Catholic Pastor Josef Michalaer officiated assisted by three choir boys. Pastor Michaelaer held a burial speech in Swedish and proceeded thereafter to the coffin installation. The service closed with prayers and an honor salute for the dead. Thereafter Swedish psalm 377 verse 1 and 5 was sung followed by Lv4 Music Corps playing "Integer Vitae" by Fleming.
Wreaths were laid down among others by Consul Riggs, Col. Gruel, Lt. Col. Filkins and for Malmö Defende district of Col. Sillén. For Skånska flying flotilla, a wreath was laid by Col. Zachrisson.
The impressive ceremony closed with the Swedish and the American National Anthem which was played by Lv4 Music Corps.
The funeral act November 1, 1944 when the six airmen were buried in Malmö
The coffin of O.J. Ragland and the catholic pastor Josef Michalaer
The coffin of O.J. Ragland
Copyright all five photos: © Linda Marrs Havrilla
But why were they buried in Malmö and not closer to the crash site?
As far as we know, all deceased Americans were buried in Malmö (in total 42 persons when the war ended). The American embassy had booked a number of graves already the year of 1943 that they wanted to use during the war.
40 of the graves were moved in 1948, either to war cemeteries in France/Luxembourg/Belgium or to a cemetery in the airman's home town. The families were informed that if they wanted to keep their sons/husbands in Malmö, then they had to arrange themselves for someone to manage and take responsibility for the graves; the American authorities would not manage the graves anymore. There were several families that wanted to keep the graves in Malmö, but they were put under so much pressure from the American authorities that they finally agreed to move the graves. The American authorities made it sound difficult (and maybe even expensive) to have the graves managed on their own expense.
Only the families of Campbell and Raglands didn't agree to move them in the end. Though, their graves have always been taken care of by the expense of cemetery management and the families have never had to pay anything for this.