Nineteen-year-old Henry Popper's Lancaster plane was shot down over Sweden by the Germans in 1944. Popper's remains rest in a cemetery in Malmö. Photo: Royal Airforce handout / Scanpix

Who were the WWII pilots shot down over Sweden?

Who were the WWII pilots shot down over Sweden?
8:35 min

Back during World War II, Sweden was, of course, officially neutral. But planes from both sides of the fight were shot down in Swedish airspace, and the remains of some of these pilots – both Allied and Nazi – are still here. Archivist, Anette Sarnäs, is writing a book about a few of them.

"It's about the ten Allied airmen who are buried in Malmö," says Sarnäs. "Some of them were found washed ashore in southern Sweden, and some of them were shot down over Sweden by German nightfighters, who were stationed in Denmark but flew over Sweden."

"Many of them came from the other side of the world," she says. "There were Australians and New Zealanders and Canadians. And today, they are just names on gravestones."

Sarnäs says she was curious to find out who these pilots really were and to tell their stories.

The youngest of the Allied fighers buried at the cemetery in Malmö is Henry Popper. He was born to a Jewish family in Vienna. They emigrated to England in 1939, when he was 14. His mother wanted him to be a medical doctor, but "he wanted to fly. He wanted to be an airman and fly against the Nazis, because they still had many family members who remained in Austria and Hungary."

She says Popper flew 15 operations before his plane was shot down over Sweden during a big raid. Five-hundred Allied bombers had planned a route across southern Sweden at the end of August 1944. But German nightfighters in Denamrk flew up and shot down as many as they could. Eight of the Allied planes crashed, and Popper's was one of them.  

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