War Graves


Story Details

They left Australia as young men, and died as unsung heroes in an unmarked grave.
Now, they'll be remembered forever.

We first brought you the story of the two South Australian men and their astonishing bravery during World War Two, in September.

22-year-old Sid Forrester from Unley and his mate Ewin Carthew were a couple of Air Force young guns, sent off in huge lumbering bombers, in the most hazardous combat missions ever flown.

Their blended British and Australian crew took to the skies in Lancaster bombers, made famous in the classic movie, The Dambusters.

For 65 years, their final act of bravery was known only to a handful of people, including Sid's nephew, Adelaide man Peter Forrester.

"Yeah, they're definitely heroes," says Peter. "I think that's the way it should be."

Having completed their raid all those years ago, the crew's return took them over Denmark, but not out of danger.

"They may have been running short of fuel and took a short cut across Denmark where they were intercepted by German night fighter," says Peter.

The battle was witnessed by a Danish villager who said he could see fire-tongues from the German night-fighter.

With their aircraft on fire, they prepared for a forced landing... only to see the village of Stadil dead in their path.

"As they pulled back up and it was thought that to avoid hitting the village, the night fighter hit them again, which did a lot of damage."

They saved the village and sacrificed their lives.

But their ultimate sacrifice and its memory were in danger of being lost altogether, as the passing of time had dimmed Danish memories and discouraged Aussie relatives.

"Some of the significance of what happened 60-odd years ago is being lost," says Peter.

Peter and his partner Jo were determined to make sure his Uncle's unmarked grave didn't remain unrecognised, and campaigned for it to be declared an official war grave.

The RSL declared its support. President Jock Stratton says: "It is a grave, and it is a war grave, so it should be saved as it is in recognition of the sacrifices those men gave."

And exactly 65 years after their fatal mission, official recognition came, with a commemoration service and the unveiling of a permanent memorial to the crew of Lancaster EE 138.

Among the dignitaries was Australia's Ambassador to Denmark.

"Having the Ambassador there um was important for the local community (the Danish people) to understand the Australians are serious about this."

The Forresters travelled to Denmark and the village where it all began, along with pilot Sid Forrester's younger sister, Margaret. Now 85, it was Margaret's last chance to say goodbye.

"Saying her final farewells to her eldest brother was a really significant part of her life," says Peter. "For all these years she'd felt that that Sid being so far on the other side of the world that he would have been lonely. Now when she saw all the people there, she now feels and understands that that's not the case. She understands that the local community are there to look after them."

The event was recorded by Danish media and two documentary crews. And for the first time, accurate information about the Lancaster's men and its mission will be permanently on display at the site.

"It was a real eye opener for me to see young children touching the plaques and feeling the images of the crew members and their faces there; it's come out really well."

Also for the first time for the Aussie heroes, the Ode of Remembrance and the Last Post were heard at the site.

Sid Forrester and the rest of EE 138 can now truly rest in peace.

For more information about Sid Forrester and the crew of EE 138, go to www.ee138.net