The speech 20 October 1984
On the day forty years after the accident there was a ceremony at the monument. This is a translation of the speech that the priest Eckerdahl gave:
"It happened October 20, 1944. In the dark night, I believe there was also a mist, the big airplane went down among the trees here for a distance of 200 meters. The message was spread out over the neighborhood. And I believe it was CG Carlsson in Anten who called me and I then let the church bells ring down in the village.
This happening did, of course, leave a deep impression. CG Carlsson, whom I mentioned, and Hilmer Andersson in Alingsås, and the then mayor in Alingsås and a lot of other people, initiated the effort to raise this monument. And the embassy for the USA in Stockholm donated this propeller that in an eloquent way witnessed the incident. And so this beautiful monument was raised and here they inscribed the names of these six young men.
Their relatives at home in the USA made arrangements for a fund and the American Ambassador in Stockholm presented the collected funds to me. I contacted the silver smith Eldh in Gothenburg because there was a wish that the collected funds should be used for something for the altar in the church that rang the bells for the souls of the dead. He composed a box for sacramental wafers, very beautiful in silver, and this sacramental wafer box has the names of the young men inscribed in a ring surrounding it.
Some years later, I have to tell this, someone called me on the telephone and asked if I could meet a young lady who had come from America, I think it was 1947. And I gladly did that. And you see, the second last name is Oakley Ragland, who was twenty years old. If I am correctly informed, and she also said so, they had their wedding the day before. And he had to leave the party to go out on the last journey. [This is not correct, they got married 12 September 1943.]
She had flown overseas to see and feel the place where her bridegroom had breathed his last sigh. He did that literally, because he was the only one of the six who had shown any sign of life.
I met her at Sjöviks railway station, there were trains on Västgötabanan by that time. And she came, a charming well painted youth. And I had placed the sacramental wafer box on the altar in Östad's church and the lights were lit and so we both stood there by the altar and she read the name of her groom. My boys, I had a lot of them, had biked to here and they had picked as many flowers as they could that they had placed here at the monument. And then we came, I believe we came somewhere down there, and it was an open and free view and so I showed her: There is the place. And I suggested that she should walk alone up to here. No, she said, and took my hand and so we stood here for a while and she had the goal of her journey and kind of met her loved one here in the forest.
Later she was in the vicarage and our youngest daughter Ingrid was four years old. She was very surprised we had six children, that no one could speak English. But she got attached to Ingrid. And when I had driven her down to the station in Sjövik she told me: Ask her if she wants to follow me. And so I did, but Ingrid wanted to stay with her daddy. Then we got a large package that Christmas with plum pudding; you probably don't know how to use it, we didn't either, but anyhow, we received a lot of other well-tasting items.
I wanted to tell this simple story and link to the fine words that you just have heard, that really in a rich and fine way gave us a vision of what belongs to the wonderful in flying, because I can assume that it is, but also dangerous. And we stay in deep reflection for this in gratitude to what these young men had to sacrifice. They sacrificed, as we know, their lives for their country and as they also understood it correctly, for mankind. And we thank God for all such unselfish deeds, and also for the ones that were done and not known."
Photo from the memorial ceremony 1984: Kjell Helander (the Home Guard), Aronsson (Fire department), ?, Colonel Hansson (Air force), Karl Allmenröder, Priest Eckerdal
The priest Eckerdahl gives his speach
The priest Eckerdahl
Sverker Hjälström and Karl Allmenröder
Copyright all five photos: © Torvald Brynggård