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The crash at Kvitanosi 27/12-42 told by Nils Gullbraa (f.1929)

From the book "War in Eksingedalen 1940 - 45", issued by Vaksdal Kommune in 1995 at the 50's anniversary of the end of WW2, editor Aage Lavik. Here printed with the permission of the author and Vaksdal Kommune.

After a period with bad weather and much snow starting before Christmas, it stopped snowing at the 27th. But the clouds still stayed at 1000 m above sea level. My brother and I where waiting for our father to come home. Because of the bad weather, he could not cross the mountains skiing from Evanger. He worked at the PowerStation at Evanger.

We kids had placed the radio in the living room for the Christmas. We thought we where safe for the Germans to come and find it in this bad weather.

At 10:15 in the evening at the 27th we hear the sound of an aero plane, and ran out to turn off the light outside. Standing outside the house, we saw a big 4 engine aero plan with its landing lights turned on, passing low over the valley. When disappearing west of the mountain Kjaeringanosi, suddenly the sound stopped. Had the plane crashed?

The bad weather would not stop. The next day the clouds were even thicker, and the snow blizzard continued all of the 28th. At Tuesday the 29th the weather was better, still clouds, but possible to go up into the mountains.

In the evening our father arrived. He told that he, together with the tailor Olav Ekse, had found a German when they where passing Nils Ekse's hut at the mountain pasture Eksestoelen. They had brought him down to the valley of Eksingedalen, to Ekse. There Lars Ekse gave him shelter.

The New Year Day, 1/1 1943, it was snowing wet snow. We contacted a man from Bergen which was at "Christmas holidays" (stayed there because of the war). He knew the German language and was able to speak with the person brought down from the mountain. The German told that he had been one of the crew members at a plane which had crashed in the mountains. One other crew member also had survived, but they had been separated in the attempt to climb down when one of them rushed downhill. The other returned to the wreck after getting no answer when yelling downhill.

At Saturday 2d January the weather turned better. We started climbing up into the mountains to look for the missing plane. Five adults: Olav Gullbraa, Ingvald Gullbraa, Harald Gullbraa, Andreas Trefall, and the "translator" from Bergen. After the adults come my brother Johan, age 15, and I, age 13 1/2. We passed Kjaeringanosi skiing across the plateau Storetoni, west of the mountain hiding for the top of Kvitanosi. We followed the edge. We found footpaths in the snow of a person without skies. We continued, and after a while we found the plane. It had crashed in a slow hillside. Because of the snow, the plane was not totally crashed. The left wing had smashed into a big stone, and the plane had turned 180 degrees and stopped lying at its back. The taili, from the back up to the point where the wings started, was almost undamaged. The cockpit was smashed backwards into the the wing mount. We saw one of the pilots hanging upside down in his seatbelts.

It was getting late, so we had to return when still daylight. We went the same path back. Passing Dyratoni, we saw a person waiving from one of the huts down in the mountain pasture Torvedalen. We climbed down Dyratoni, and further down to the hut. This was the other surviving German. His jawbone was broken, and he was badly injuried. We partly carried and partly pulled him down to the valley on a parachute he had brought from the plane. He was to weak to walk himself. About at 7 hour in the evening we arrived to Ekse.

At Sunday 3d January there was a new snow blizzard.

My father and Olav Ekse, which found the first German at Eksestoelen, got later a bottle of Italian wine each for the help.

About the 15th or 16th January an alpine troop (from Austria) came. Thayr mission was to bring down the dead from the wreck. Here at Gullbraa they stayed in Nils B. Gullbraa's house. They where good skiers.

The alpine troops ordered some locals from Eksingedalen to assist them on their mission. They went to the plane skiing, and brought with them a sledge. The work was difficult, and they returned to Gullbraa late that evening.

The third day they got horses and sledges to transport the dead down the valley of Eksingedalen. David Gullgraa and Lars Ekse drove two horses with sledges, one each.

At Monday the 3d of June a new alpine troop arrived. The stayed in Nils Bergesen Gullbraa's house. I participated at two hikes to Kvitanosi, and found them to be nice people. One of them spoke Norwegian very well.

Now the plane should be emptied for all values. Some locals where ordered to assist them: Johannes Gullbraa, Herman Gullbraa, Harald Gullbraa, Ingvald Gullbraa, Haakon Trefall and Andreas Trefall.

At the first hike, my uncle Ingvald and I where ahead of the others. As we arrived the wreck, we saw two people. They asked what we where doing at the wreck site. My uncle turned and pointed back the path we came and said that a troop of Germans where on their way. Never, sooner or later, have I seen someone who jumped into their skis and skied so fast. I do not dear to think of what would happened if the Germans had seen them running away.

One day the Germans had pulled two of the engines down to Naevene. One of the engines continued on its own on its sledge down into the woods. The sledge was smashed. The landing wheels and many other parts where transported down to Gullbraa, but they gave up getting down the engines.

At Thursday the 10th of July I participated again. Now they should finish theyr mission. The rest of the parts to be transported down to the valley where collected. Then blocks of TNT where strapped onto different parts of the plane. Belts of ammunition 20.5 where placed above. We seeked shelter behind some rocks, and when the explosion come there was an inferno of metal peaces, flying and spread widely in the area.

The two remaining motors where also blown up. This Friday the 11th the Germans got all parts brought down to the valley, brought further down to Trefall to the car-road.

That evening the 11th the Germans left after completed mission.

(The dates in this story are from my father Olav Gullbraa.s diaries.)

[Added by me after a phone call with Nils Gullbraa 28/5]
Nils: The tail part was almost complete, and with a big room inside. The food the two survivors had been eating before they had to leave the plane was located there, and this was also the place they had seeked they're shelter. At the last hike I asked the person in command if they could leave this part undamaged. "I could so, but there are more of us", was the answer. The tail of the plane was also blown up.

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