Welcome to Nordjyllands Historiske Museum (The Historical Museum of Northern Jutland)
Nordjyllands Historiske Museum works with research, collection, preservation, documentation and presentation of local and cultural history in the municipalities of Aalborg, Mariagerfjord, Rebild and Jammerbugt.
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The pilot of the German plane identified
The local museum hopes to exhibit the wreckage and other finds
German authorities have now confirmed the identity of the German pilot who in 1944 crashed with his Messerschmitt fighter plane in a field in Birkelse in Northern Jutland in Denmark. 14 days ago, a 14-year old schoolboy found the remains of the downed plane, and work began on identifying the pilot. His name is Hans Wunderlich, and he was just 19 years old.
In addition to the remains of the German pilot, a small diary was found, the Luftwaffe-version of “Der Soldatenfreund”. It is both a calendar and a guidebook, in which the pilot has kept all manners of information, eg. data on English planes (drawings of silhouettes), military ranks etc. In the book, the pilot has written his name: Hans Wunderlich. There are no entries for 10th October 1944, the day the plane crashed. The last entry was made on 24th September. All flights in 1944 are possibly registered in the book. The name Hans Wunderlich occurs in both service records and papers from the canteen at the Aalborg base, just as his initials are visible on the watch.
(Photo: © Nordjyllands Historiske Museum)
At the Historical Museum of Northern Jutland (Nordjyllands Historiske Museum) and the conservation centre Bevaringscenter Nordjylland, a handful of employees have been aware of the pilot’s identity for several days. The name was evident from service records, found in the wreckage, as well as from papers from the canteen at the Aalborg base. Moreover, initials on the watch found at the crash site confirm the identity as corporal Hans Wunderlich.
Hans Wunderlich was born in Neusorg, Bavaria, on 22nd July 1925. He was unmarried and had no children. The German authorities have reported that his parents died several years ago, and in 2006, his only sister passed away, also leaving no children.
The Historical Museum of Northern Jutland (Nordjyllands Historiske Museum) is currently looking into the possibilities of opening a temporary exhibition of the wreckage and other finds from the crash.
The pilot’s watch was found together with other personal items. The watch is broken, and its hands are missing. Apparently, it has stopped at the time of the crash. What is left of the hands indicate that the time of the crash was approximately 2 pm. The museum is in no doubt that the watch belongs to the pilot, as his initials are etched on the back of the watch: HW – Hans Wunderlich. The watch does not appear to be a military watch, but a personal watch, with extra digits added to the dial later. The purpose of these digits is unclear, but perhaps they were useful for the pilot. The museum would like to hear from anyone who might have an explanation. The “W” visible on the front of the dial indicates the make of the watch, Wagner. The watch factory, which was located in Pforzheim in the southwest of Germany, was bombed on 23rd February 1945. Pforzheim is located approximately 340 kilometres southwest of the town where Hans Wunderlich was born.