Danish WW2 Pilots

Harald Julius Hansen

(1892 - 1941)

Harald Julius Hansen is pilot in the Danish Airlines before the war. By fate, he is in London on 9. April 1940, when German troops cross the Danish border. He is attached to the Air Transport Auxiliary, but he dies from his injuries following a flying accident in 1941.

Harald Julius Hansen is born on 17 June 1892. He joins the Danish Army and is appointed Korporal (corporal) on 26 June 1913. On 3 October 1914 he is appointed Sergent af reserven (sergeant of the reserve). He is trained as pilot in the army as early as in 1918 (certificate 31/18). He is later trained as commercial pilot. [1]

Trained as Military Pilot

He joins the Det danske Luftfartsselskab (Danish Airlines) as pilot no later than 1930 as he is photographed with transporting a number of dirt-track riders for Hamburg. Among the riders was later Flight Lieutenant Jens Henning Fisker “Morian” Hansen, G.M., D.F.C.

In 1937 Harald Hansen is the first Danish Airlines pilot to fly more than a million kilometres for the company. Two years after he passes 1 ½ million kilometres.

Despite the outbreak of war, Danish Airlines manages to keep up service on London (Croydon, later Shoreham) and on Berlin. On 8 April 1940, Emil Damm is supposed to take one of Danish Airlines’ two Focke-Wulf Fw 200 “Condor” to London. Since it is his birthday, Harald Julius Hansen fills in his place in the roster, so Damm can celebrate with his family. Therefore, it is Harald Hansen who arrives in London in Fw 200A-02 (OY-DAM "Dania") on the eve of the German occupation of Denmark. The aircraft had been in the company’s service since 4 July 1937. [2]

The very next morning, the German troops cross the Danish borders. In Shoreham, the aircraft was taken over by the Secretary of State for Air and registered as G-AGAY. [3]

The crew of four, Harald Hansen, mechanic Jørgen Dalbro, wireless operator Uffe Jensen and air hostess Doris Jensen, was detained in Britain. Detained were also ground mechanic, later Flight Lieutenant Henning Pedersen and head of the London office, later Flight Lieutenant Vagn Christensen. [4]

B.O.A.C. and A.T.A.

In a 1957 issue of Flight (12.4.1957), former British Overseas Air Corporation director A.J. Quin-Harkin reveals that the crew was employed by the corporation in May 1940. Harald Hansen was given seniority appropriate to his earlier position in DDL. At a later date, Harald Hansen transfers to the Air Transport Auxiliary where he looses his life in an accident in July 1941. [5]

The aircraft too is transferred to B.O.A.C and named “Wolf”. According to an article in Flight (15.3.1957) the aircraft is used for short freight hauls, usually provided with a fighter escort. But it is not without difficulties to fly a German four engines aircraft in the British skies. On 9 January 1941 the aircraft is handed over to the Royal Air Force and given the serial number DX177. [6]

According to Cheesman (1945) the aircraft is transferred to White Waltham in August 1941. As the aircraft is piloted by Harald Hansen, the actual date must be no later than early July, though. Contrary to the Flight article Cheesman reports that the aircraft was no use had been made of the aircraft from the time it was taken over and until it was handed over to the A.T.A. At White Waltman the aircraft is intended for the training of pilots on four-engined aircraft. [7]

At the end of the day the aircraft is never used as intended as the maintenance is regarded as too difficult. On 12 July 1941, three weeks after the arrival, Harald Hansen is allowed to take it into the air for a test-flight. He runs into a severe thunderstorm, but during the landing the brakes fail and the aircraft is damaged beyond economical repair. The aircraft is reported as being camouflaged on the top surfaces and in Training Command yellow on the under surfaces. Harald Hansen stays at White Waltham for a few weeks following the inquiries, but is marked by the loss of the aircraft. [8]

Killed in a tragic accident

He is taken on to the strength of the A.T.A. and posted to the Whitchurch pool as ferry pilot, but only a few weeks later he is killed. Taxiing an Anson he collides with another aircraft carrying out an emergency landing at an Oxfordshire aerodrome; the sources are not clear. According to the death certificate the date of his death is 24 July 1941. One source states that he dies from his injuries two days after the crash, which dates the crash to 22 July 1941. [9]

The funeral service takes place on 29 July 1941 in the Bristol Crematorium at Arnos Vale. The service was conducted by a Danish minister of Bristol. Harald Hansen was repatriated to Denmark at a later date. [10]

I am indebted to Amrit, Chris Pointon, and Henk Welting for supplying information and sources to this article.

Sources:

  1. Clauson Kaas, 1943, HfH
  2. Westphall, 1968, Halley, 1987, Danish Civil Aircraft Register
  3. Flight, 15.3.1957
  4. Westphall, 1968
  5. Flight, 12.4.1957
  6. Flight, 15.3.1957
  7. Cheesman, 1946
  8. Flight, 19.4.1957
  9. Cheesman, 1946, Flight, 19.4.1957, death certificate via Chris Pointon
  10. Flight, 12.4.1957, www.cwgc.com