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Danish freedom fighter rifles - Grandpas story

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    Posted: Jul 02 2022 at 8:12pm

After I posted some of the story about .30M1 that I bought, it was suggested that I post info about my other wartime rifles as well as my grandpas story as a freedom fighter here in Denmark.


So I will start with my grandpa. In September 1939 he was drafted to be a soldier in the Danish Defence. He was a foot soldier (army) and he was trained in Battalion 4 in Odense. He had 2 brothers as well. During basic training, he was being trained as a Granadeer (with explosives training as a part of it). At some point - we dont know when - he was put into another group. This may have been right after basic training. What we do know, is that he stopped Granadeer training, and started training with a rifle and Madsen Machinegun. We also know that in March 1940 was awarded "Best Battalion Shooter" and was handed an award + met with a high ranking Captain. He talked about that in a letter to his parents. We have a picture of that day + the award he was given (an engraved brass letter knife made out of a Krag Jorgensen M89 cartridge).


Around late 1941 to early 1942 he ended up in Brande Jylland (close to Herning, Silkeborg, Vejle and Esbjerg). Brande is a key point for the Danish railroad system. 90% of all trains going from east to west, or south to north, goes through Brande. 


My grandpa was a carpenter and Brande was unique when it came to forming smaller groups. The groups were formed according to your job. If you were a carpenter, you would have a real reason for driving a lorry around in the evening. You were either picking up or delivering materials for work. If you were a banker, you had access to a printing machine, so illegal newspapers were your main focus. If you were a railroad worker, intel on trains and so on, was your main focus. This was VERY unique to Brande. I havent heard that from anywhere else in Denmark.


Grandpas group (together with 1 of his brothers) were a Commando group - aka a sabotage group. But its also a bodyguard group for high ranking visitors as well as ordinance group. They were also in charge of distributing ammo and weapons to other groups. They were right in the mist of everything. The last brother - was a banker, and he was doing illegal newspapers.


To keep the story short, I will just say that Brande resistance fighters made 196 sabotage explosions to the railroad line. April 20th 1945 they did 70 due to rumours that the SS was planing to use Brande as their HQ. So they blocked off Brande completely. In fact, they closed it off so well, that only about a handful of trains arrived the rest of the war.


Another interesting point - and also VERY unique to Brande. On May 5th when Germany surrendered, the whole group marched into Brande in full uniform. We have pictures of that as well. 


Whats interesting is that about 10 from the group, went out to a local farmer after that march - homemade shooting range. They shot their rifles a LOT. They continued to shoot for several hours. The reason? During the whole war they had not shot ANY shots what so ever. If thats not impressive enough, here is the second part. Out of those 196 sabotage actions, not 1 German was killed. Only 7 was wounded - and that was due to a derailed train. If there was a risk of Germans being injured, they would call in another bomb threat or wait to set it up, until the area was clear.


Grandpa talks a little bit about this - and so does his Division leader. They were not fighting people. They were fighting ideology. They had such respect for human lives, that they didnt want to kill anybody. But they did want to fight - which they also did. 


Just to put this into perspective. I mentioned grandpa was a bodyguard. We know that Mogens Fog - the national leader for the resistance - lived in Brande for 8 months. We also know that one of the national Generals also came for a visit. Mogens Fog later became president/leader for the Freedom Counsel. He formed the paperwork and plans, while living in Brande. We have some evidence that grandpa was Mogens Fog bodyguard for those 8 months.


My grandpa also went out picking up weapons after they were dropped into Denmark. There is a whole story about that Smile 


Now, as you can see, I can continue to share stories about Grandpa. I have a LOT of stories from both him as well as from his group leader, not to mention the division leader. I am slowly but surely writing a book about Grandpa and his brothers and Brande resistance group.


This brings me to the rifles. Grandpa passed away in 2016. This is where we found some of the documents confirming he was a freedomfighter. Its also where we found his award. Being me, I started to dig into what he had done. During that, a thought started to form in my head. I wondered, if I had inherited any of his shooting skills. So in November 2020 I joined a gun club, and started to go shooting once a week. I still dont know, if I have his skills, but I won a couple of bronze medals Smile And yes, I have caught the shooting bug badly Smile


Ofcause this story means that my rifles cant be any random rifle. It has to have a story. 


Because of that, I own a Winchester m1917 rifle, that went from US, to Canada during ww2. It was a training rifle in Canada. In 1953 it went to Denmark, were it was used for 7 years as a part of the Danish Homeguard. In 1960, it was donated up to the Sirius Dog Sled Patrol in Greenland, where it was used until 2015 where it came back to Denmark. It had 1 owner prior to me, after it came back. 


I also own a Remington m1867 (built in Denmark in 1883) that was shortned down. After talking to several museum people, they have mentioned this happened a LOT during ww2 if the rifle was used by freedom fighters. They cut down the barrel and stock, so it was easier to conceal. I have also have had 2 gunsmiths looking at it, and they both concluded that the barrel cut was done by hand with a hacksaw well over 50 years ago. Its also interesting that the place I bought it from was just outside Odense - and they did have a big resistance group there - as well as being the place grandpa was a soldier.


I also own a Mauser K98 (or Gevaer 98 as the stamp says). Normally I wouldnt go for German weapons but this one has a story. The story is, that it was stolen during ww2 by freedom fighters, and was used against Germans for the rest of the war. After the war, these weapons was returned to the police/state since the Germans left a LOT of them when they went home. At this point, they were either destroyed or given to Otterup Rifle factory (now called Schultz and Larsen), where they were changed to club rifles. That meant swapping barrel into 6.5x55mm. So thats what mine has. 6.5x55 caliber. The AS156 carved into the stock, is the freedom fighters fishing boat name.

Last but not least, I ofcause just bought the M1 Carbine. That one I havent received yet, so I dont have any other pictures than the ones from the shop. That one also have an resistance connection. More about that later, when I finally get it. I am waiting for the permit which can take up to 6 months.


One last thing before I post pictures. When we emptied grandpas appartement in 2016 we found his paperweight. Well, we knew it was there, but we found it right after we found the papers where he confirmed his role as a freedomfighter. Why is that funny? That paperweight was a Mills 36 handgranade that was produced in late 1944. It didnt have a primer, but the pin and the explosives (70 gram of TNT) was still there. To make this even more funny, as a kid, both my mom, and me and my brothers had used that as a bowling ball. All we were told, was to never pull the pin Tongue The bombsquard didnt like that story when we called them when we were emptying grandpas appartement. I wonder why Big smile


Now for the pictures. Sorry this was so long. I hope you can forgive me.








Michael
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Smokpole Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 02 2022 at 9:15pm
I enjoyed your story. It brings a different perspective to the war. Most of my father's stories were combat related since he went into combat in gliders. At different times he was in the 82nd AB, 101st AB and the 17th.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote ScooterShooter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 03 2022 at 10:36am
Originally posted by Smokpole Smokpole wrote:

I enjoyed your story. It brings a different perspective to the war. Most of my father's stories were combat related since he went into combat in gliders. At different times he was in the 82nd AB, 101st AB and the 17th.

Its a perspective that was only an option for small groups doing gorilla warfare. On the frontline it was never an option. And dont get me wrong. I have such deep respect for people like your dad. What he must have gone through... So for me, your dad earned every ounce of respect.

For my grandpa and his group. They had the option because it was nighttime actions and they were using timed explosives. So in and out without anybody knowing they were there. That was the most normal type of actions.

However, there were a couple of actions, that was different. One of the very first bombings was an oil container on a railroad train. That one was placed by one of the railroad workers, and it was placed while Germans were patrolling the railroad yard. In fact, he was VERY close to being caught. He was doing maintainers fixing a connection between 2 carriage, where one of them was with the oil container. So he used that, to place the bomb. Less than 15 sec after it was placed, a guard asked him when he was done. He said he was just packing away his tools because he was done now. The guard looked at the connection, and commented it looked good. If the guard had looked 15 degrees to the left, he would have noticed the wiring for the bomb. 

Now, the rest of this story is funny. Actually so funny, that several Danish newspapers brought the story adding a cartoon to the story.

What happened, was the timer was set to go off VERY late. So late, that the Germans wouldnt expect it to have been placed in Brande. The train was going to Herning (about 25 min away at the time) but it wasnt going there until about 2 hours later. As it turns out, the bomb exploded while it was in Herning. Because it was an oil container, it was placed slightly on an outside track for safety reasons. Nowhere near people carriers. So when it exploded there was no personal injury. 

However, a HUGE whole was in that container. Oil was coming out FAST. So fast, that the German commandant - who was PISSED big time at the guard - ordered the guard to close that hole so oil didnt come out. The guard said that he had nothing to close it with, where the commandant than ordered him to put his butt into that hole filling the hole that way. The guard ended up doing just that. He sat in that hole for hours trying to stop oil from coming out. Ofcause all in vain. 

Germans lost about 10.000 gallons (40.000liter) of oil that day. 

I cant find that cartoon right now. I will post it when I find it again. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Smokpole Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jul 03 2022 at 8:33pm
That is a funny story! LOL!
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