Updated: 01-06-2012

Commonwealth War Graves at Svinø Churchyard

buried airmen had to be exhumed and buried again, so that all the airmen could be resting in the same area.

But in 1948 the Americans wanted their dead airmen exhumed and brought to US Military Cemetery Neuville en Condroz near Liege in Belgium. From here some of them were send home to USA, others were buried there in Belgium, and two were buried in Luxembourg.
In 1949 the last American airman was exhumed and reburied in Netherlands AMC near Maastricht in Holland.

In 1999 a former RAF airman, the Canadian Donald Smith, was buried here.
He was the only survival after a crash in 1943, and it was his own wish to be buried near his crewmembers, when he died.
His urn was placed few meters behind the graves of his crewmembers.

East of the Commonwealth Graves you will see a large lawn.
Here 17 German refugees were buried just after the War. They have later (in 1965) been exhumed and taken to Germany.
On the 5.th of May 1950 the Common Wealth Memorial Park was consecrated as a pure British cemetery with headstones and Cross of Sacrifice and under the supervision of Common Wealth War graves Commission, who is still supervising the area.
Aprox. 40 relatives were participating in the consecration, and since then many other relatives have been visiting or participated in our 4.th of May arrangement, which is taking place every year.
It is the organisation “People and Defence”, who is responsible for the arrangement, and we begin with a service in the church. After that the Danish air force makes a formation flight over the churchyard, participant from the allied embassies are laying down wreathes, speeches are held, and at the end you will hear the “reveille” – not the “retreat” – blown as a sign of resurrection.
Then the several hundred people will spread again for surely to return on the next 4th. of May.
But at the monument – Cross of Sacrifice – you will see many beautiful flowers and wreathes, and in front of all the headstones, the candles flicker in the night and remind us in more than one way that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it”.

                   Mette Magnusson, vicar, 2003


i Read more about these airmen. External link to detailed and individual information at airmen.dk on the buried airmen on Svinø.


In Denmark more than 1100 allied airmen were buried during World War II.
The German Commander at Avnø Air Station chose Svinø as one of the 5 central churchyards, and all airmen, found on Lolland, Falster, Møn and the southern part of Sjælland should be brought to Svinø for burial.
The other central churchyards are Esbjerg, Åbenrå, Lemvig and Frederikshavn.
From the 13.th of May 1942 to the 23.rd. of June 1946 108 allied airmen were buried here – 62 British and 46 Americans.
Until may 1942 the airmen were buried at the nearest churchyard, but as it grew obvious that the number of killed airmen could be rather large, the Germans choose the make the 5 central churchyards.
The first funerals after May 1942 was performed by a German army chaplain, who came down to Svinø from Copenhagen, but at Easter time 1943 it was decided to let the local Danish vicar perform the funerals.
But after a year about Easter time 1944 the vicar was forbidden to perform the funerals, and the Germans buried the airmen without any clergy.
Although the Germans threatened them the vicar and the congregation every Sunday after the church service went to the new graves and held a Christian funeral.
From September 1944 the dead airmen were not even taken to a churchyard to be buried but was buried where they were found.
Therefore 4 airmen have been buried after the end of the war.
After the war several of the airmen also were exhumed to be identified. It was not always possible, and we have still got 8 unidentified airmen buried here.
Also Svinø churchyard did not have capacity to all those funerals, so in 1944 the churchyard was enlarged in that area where the airmen are buried now. So all the first



Updated: 01-06-2012