Author's note: This article has nothing to do with World of Tanks, it is written as a reminder of the bravery of the Danish resistance fighters. Throughout WW2, a number of improvised armored vehicles were built, the best known being the infamous Bob Semple tank and the Soviet "Odessa" improvised tanks. But there were more less known vehicles built - of limited combat value, but of great moral and historical significance. The "Holger Danske" is one of them.
The military history of wartime Denmark was perhaps not the most significant one in the largest conflict in human history, but nevertheless, it contains some very interesting chapters. One of them was written by the "Holger Danske" resistance group.
In 1940, Germans captured and occupied Denmark (operation Weserübung) without too many problems. While the capture went smoothly, the occupation itself however was another matter. Despite the fact Germans employed a large number of traitor Danes, formed into terrorist groups to fight the resistance and despite general public mood being in favour of peaceful cooperation with the Germans, a number of various groups came to be during the first half of the war.
One of them was the "Holger Danske" group, formed first in 1942 by five people, bearing the name of one of the Danish legendary heroes ("Ogier the Dane"). Despite losing over 64 people to the nazi secret service Gestapo, the resistance group successfully carried out several sabotage attacks and caused considerable losses to the Germans and the collaborators.
Despite staying hidden and attacking from shadows, by the end of the war, a decision was made by the group to step up the anti-German campain by starting to use heavy weapons, namely an envisioned armored car.
A Ford FAA truck was acquired in early 1945 from local sources to serve as the vehicle basis and armored plates were "liberated" from the local Frederiksvaerk steel factory. It took around 3 months to build the vehicle - it was a slow process due to the secrecy. However, the news of upcoming German surrender changed everything and anothe decision was taken to take a risk and speed up the car production as much as possible. In the chaos of the final days of the war, it was possible to move the Ford FAA truck directly to the steel factory from where the armored plates came. The resistance men worked on the truck night and day and it was ready just a day before the war ended. The vehicle was then named "V3" to resemble the German term "weapon of vengeance" (Vergeltungswaffe), used on the V1 and V2 rockets. On the front, a large "Frit Danmark" ("free Denmark") was written in red.
The construction was quite simple. The vehicle had basic armored plates welded on it (roughly 5mm thick), that covered the driver's cabin, crew compartment and a small "turret", equipped with a loosely mounted Bren machinegun. The crew counted 6 men, one of which used the "turretted" Bren and the rest used their personal weapons - rifles and submachineguns. Naturally, the suspension was overloaded by the added weight, which affected the driving performance, but that was of little consequence to the resistance fighters. The vehicle also had problems with overheating, resulting in the removal of the front armor plate in front of the radiator (or rather a hull was cut in most of it). Generally, as improvised armor often is, the vehicle was of very little combat value, but in the only operation it took part, it served well.
As mentioned earlier, a number of Danish collaborator terrorist groups were active in Denmark throughout the war. One of the most notorious ones was the infamous Lorenzen group (in Danish Lorenzengruppen). Named after its founder, Jorgen Lorenzen, the group (counting 19) worked closely with Gestapo and was responsible for over 600 arrests and numerous murders. At the end of the war, the group sought refuge in a wood cottage near Asserbo. The resistance found out about the group's hideout and was determined to even the score with the terrorists.
Aware of the fact Danish resistance has no armor available, the group members were shocked to see the armored car appear from the mist on the muddy road. What happened after is not absolutely clear, but most accounts agree that the armored car fired a warning shot at the cottage. One of the terrorists looked out, saw the armored car, panicked and committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. Taking the shot as a sign of hostility, the car crew started firing with the machinegun and with the hand weapon on the cottage. In the resulting hail of bullets, 2 members of the group were killed and 5 were wounded. The rest surrendered and were taken prisoner. After the war, 10 members of the group were sentenced to death, including the group leader. The car itself was damaged in the action by bullets, but no crewmember was wounded or killed. After the operation was over and the crew along with other resistance fighters entered the cottage, they shivered: the cottage was loaded with rifles, machineguns and heavy weaponry, such as panzerfausts. Even one hit from such a weapon would tear the car apart, but the terrorist group members were apparently too scared to use them.
After this operation, the car was never used as a combat vehicle again. It toured Denmark for a while as a symbol of victory and resistance and then moved to the resistance museum (Frihedsmuseet) in Copenhagen, where it resides until today.
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