Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page

Sergeant Pilot Richard Samuel Pitts
565342 R A F
Sgt Pilot PittsSon of Samuel & Rose Pitts

Died 30th September 1939

Aged 26 Years

Commemorated at Klitmoller Churchyard
Grave No. 118B

Rushden Echo November 1939, transcribed by Peter Brown

Higham Ferrers Airman Buried in Denmark
Washed Ashore at Fishing Village - Wreath from Danish Coastguards

One of the week’s most moving war stories has been of the homage paid to a gallant young Higham Ferrers airman at a little fishing village in Denmark.

The name of Sergeant Pilot Richard Samuel Pitts, R A F, appeared several weeks ago in an official list of airmen who were “missing” and was repeated later in a list of those “missing, believed killed”.

Sergeant Pitts was 25 and the son of Lieutenant S Pitts (Indian Army retired) and Mrs Pitts, of 46, North End, Higham Ferrers.

The parents learned that their son had been shot down over the sea, but no further details were known.

Then, last Saturday a message was published from Copenhagen stating that a body in R A F uniform had been washed ashore at Klitmoeller, in Jutland. Attached to the body was an unused parachute with an oxygen apparatus.

Further messages showed that the airman, now identified as Sergeant Pitts, was found on the beach last Friday. Klitmoeller is in the province of Thisted and between two and three hundred miles from Wilhelmshaven and other parts of the German coast.

Almost the entire population of the village attended the funeral – which followed the customary morning church service – at the Klitmoeller cemetery on Sunday morning. The British authorities were represented by Vice-Consul Keir, from Lemvig, and the Danish Naval Airforce by Commander Captain JueBrockdorf. Wreaths were sent by the British Legation, the Danish Ministry of marine, and the Klitmoeller coastguards. The coffin was draped with the Union Jack.

Mr and Mrs Pitts were informed by the Air Ministry, through the police, on Saturday, and received official details on Tuesday.

In Jutland

Out on the coast of Jutland, in the graveyard of a fishing village, a Higham Ferrers airman lies at rest. His life was the first to be given from this district in the Allies’ great effort to restore order in a ravaged world and safety to all peace-loving peoples.

Nearly two months ago this young man—the son of a retired Army officer—was presumed to have lost his life when serving his country as a pilot of the Royal Air Force, but the waters of the Skagerrak enclosed him until last Friday. It was then that he was found upon the shore of Denmark.

The simple village of Klitmoeller paid every possible honour to the British airman; he was wrapped in a Union Jack, and they stood at his grave in silent understanding and profound sympathy. Their coastguards placed some flowers on his resting place, and the authorities of the district were there to express the sorrow of a kindly people.

One day pilgrims from Northamptonshire will stand by that grave in Jutland, and at all times the name of Klitmoeller will bring to us the memory of a first and gallant sacrifice—a deeply moving incident in the local history of this war.

R. A. F.  English airman Sergeant R.S. Pitts buried on 19 November 1939.
You gave your life for the praise of your nation
the price of victory and the peace of the world.
Therefore our thanks to the son of England
endure by means of this monument.

Prepare to meet your God.   Amos 4.12

From residents of the Parish of Klitmøller.
(Translated by KK)

On 30 September 1939 HUD N7216 was shot down on a photo mission northeast of Heligoland. All of the crew perished. Pilot R. S. Pitts was found on the beach between Klitmøller and Hanstholm in the parish of Vester Vandet. He was the first fallen allied airman in World War II to be buried in Denmark. On November 19th 1939 he was buried in Klitmøller Churchyard, long before Denmark was occupied by the Germans on 9 April 1940. (AOD and FAF)

"Wrapped up in the Union Jack the coffin with the perished airman was taken from wreck master Morten Olsen's home to the church right after the ceremony on that Sunday. Most of the churchgoers stayed to attend the funeral. Among the mourners were Senior Grade Commander Juel-Brockdorf and Chief Constable E. Brix, both of them in full dress, and Consul Kier from Lemvig. The Defence Brothers had sent their flag for the ceremony. Among the many wreaths was one from the Danish Naval Ministry. At the end of his funeral speech Vicar H. E. N. Skytte prayed for all who now had to fight for their country." (FAF)

Sergeant (Pilot) Richard Samuel Pitts, 26, the son of Samuel Thomas Pitts and Rose Pitts, of Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom. (Source: CWGC)

Memorial service with a wreathlaying ceremony in Klitmøller Churchyard on Saturday, 3 October 2009

Above details from and Kindly sent by Solvej Piil (2015)

Memories - As a granddaughter of one of the fishermen who helped with burying Sergeant Pitts, I can tell you, that his grave is well kept and looked after. I grew up in the village where he rests and moved away. I used to visit his resting place with my dad when I was a child. Have been back to the village just a few days ago. Sergeant R. S. Pitts grave is still being looked after, even after all these years. Solvej Piil (2015)
The village where they buried him was a tiny fishing village by the North Sea. The population there were mostly fishermen, who had fished from the place in generations. They were hardy men with no protection from the stormy sea, but the protection from powers above. Sergeant Pitts was buried in 1939 and a few months later, the village was invaded by Nazi Germany. The area was where the Nazis had the controlcenter of the North Atlantic defence, and they built tunnels connecting the village to the defencebunkers, which ran from more than 10 kilometers. The bunkers are still there and I remember playing on the beach as a child always being careful of what we may find there. Mines, ammunition etc. The Gestapo had a controlcenter in the village, but strangely, the Nazis never touched the grave of S ergeant Pitts. It is as it was in 1939.

Today the village is known as "Cold Hawaii" as the place is used for World Cup in windsurfing.

Denmark was freed by Montgomery's troops and we are very grateful that the British Servicemen and the suppplies of arms from the UK saved our country from being just a memory.

My father had two younger brothers who served on the sea during the war. Solvej Piil (2015)

Museum of The Danish Resistance -

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the villages index
Click here to e-mail us