When his son received a homework assignment on World War II, Klaus Kristiansen remembered a story his grandfather used to tell. In November, 1944, a German plane crashed not far from their family farm, located near the remote town of Birkelse in North Jutland, Denmark. Klaus encouraged his 14-year-old son, Daniel, to go out and find the plane as part of his assignment. So he did.
Father and son went in search of the plane crash, clad with a metal detector. Klaus was not expecting to turn up any results, he was just hoping to help his son’s homework come to life. The pair was shocked when the metal detector let out a beep. After borrowing a mechanical excavator from a neighbor, they managed to dig 16 feet into the ground, where they found signs of the plane wreckage.
The amateur archaeologists recovered some impressive loot. As the New York Times reported their haul included part of a machine gun, the remnants of an engine, a fighter pilot’s uniform, the remains of a man who might have been the plane’s pilot, a crew member’s ID, ammunition, a book (that they believed was either the Bible or Mein Kampf) and a wallet that contained coins and a condom.
The site was very well preserved—leaving the father and son tag-team fairly impressed. Klaus told Politiken, “Everything was so well preserved that you could hardly see it had been laying there for nearly 75 years.”
They contacted World War II historians and the Danish authorities. The site is now closed as forensic police officers, bomb disposal experts and representatives from the German embassy examine this rare discovery, in part to help identify the long-dead pilot.
What is known is that the wreckage was from a Messerschmitt Bf 109 warplane, which was used by the Luftwaffe, the aerial warfare branch of the German military forces during World War II.
The farm has been in the family for generations. The BBC reported that Klaus himself has been plowing the fields for 40 years. While he had never seen signs of the wreckage before, making him doubt validity of his grandfather’s tales, it turns out he should have listened.
Many have been jumping in to give their take on the wreckage, including a 94-year-old from Northern Jutland who claims he watched the German pilot crash to his death. Sigaard Jenson, who was 22 at the time, told Politiken, he was looking for peat for his stove when he witnessed the plane circling above his head before it came crashing down at high speeds. He never thought to tell anyone. An amateur historian from the nearby city Aalborg, told the local news that the warplane had taken off on November, 27, 1944. He believes the remains to be that of Bruno Kruger.
Daniel was allowed to take the day off from school to watch the teams examining the wreckage. But, have no fear, he turned in his homework assignment, and is even hoping to update it when more information is revealed from his find.