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Herbst-Jensen, Bent Michael
(1918 - 1992)

Bent Herbst-Jensen may have been the first Danish pilot to face a Me 262 jet aircraft. He is one of the Danish pilots who serve in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War.

Bent Herbst-Jensen is born on 25 January 1918 in Copenhagen. Before the war, he is living in Denmark and earned a living as glove cutter. [1] From U.S. immigration records it is possible to establish, that he arrives in New York from Bremen, Germany, on 24 April 1939 on-board SS EUROPA. [2]

Volunteers for the Royal Canadian Air Force

On 24 September 1942 he enlists for the Royal Canadian Air Force in Montreal. The circumstances concerning his move from Denmark to Canada are not clear to me.

He is posted to No. 5 Manning Depot. A few months later, on 15 January 1943 he is posted to No. 3 Training Command. Initially, from 5 February 1943 he is posted to No. 3 Flying Instructor School, Arnprior, Ontatio, for non-flying duties.

On 20 March 1943, he commences training at No. 3 Initial Training School. He graduates on 28 May 1943 and is promoted Leading Aircraftman. On 29 May 1943 he is posted to No. 11 Elementary Flying Training School, Cap de la Madeleine, Quebec. He graduates on 24 July and is posted to No. 8 Service Flying Training School, Moncton, New Brunswick. He graduates on 12 November 1943 and is promoted Sergeant. [3]

Overseas Posting

He is posted to �Y� Depot (No. 1 Embarkation Depot), Halifax on 22 November 1943 for overseas posting. Apparently the posting did not take effect as he is reposted to �Y� Depot on 22 February 1944.

He is taken on strength at No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth, in April 1944. From then on, I have few details but he is most likely posted to an Operational Training Unit before finally receiving a squadron posting. On 20 October 1944 he is commissioned as Pilot Officer (J92115). [4]

433 (Porcupine) Squadron

Eventually, Bent Herbst-Jensen is attached to 433 (Porcupine) Squadron flying Halifax until January 1945 and then Lancasters.

On 24 March 1945 Bent Herbst-Jensen and his crew is part of a force of 75 Lancasters ordered to attack the Mathias Stinnes oil plant at Bottrop. The aircraft is hit by flak and both port and starboard inner engines are hit and caught fire. Also the brakes, compasses and mid upper and front turrets are unserviceable. The inner engines are feathered and both the wireless operator and mid upper gunner fight the fires inside the fuselage. Even though the aircraft was badly damages, Bent Herbst-Jensen manages to make a safe landing at the first available airfield in Belgium. [5]

Bent Herbst-Jensen later received the Distinguished Flying Cross on 5 June 1945. The citation reads: [6]

This officer has proved a most reliable captain of aircraft and has displayed exceptional skill and courage in air operations. In March 1945, he was detailed to attack Bottrop. On the completion of his bombing run the aircraft was attacked and severely damaged by anti-aircraft fire. Two engines were rendered unserviceable. The mid-upper and front gun turrets were put out of action. The hydraulic gear was rendered inoperative and a number of flying instruments were made unusable. Despite this, Pilot Officer Jensen flew back to an airfield in this country and executed a masterly landing. In the face of most difficult circumstances this officer displayed superb captaincy, high courage and great skill.

Only a few days Bent Herbst-Jensen and crew are in the air again. During an attack at the Blohm & Voss shipyards at Hamburg in Lancaster I (�BM-C� PB908) the crew is attacked by a Messerschmitt Me 262. They escape with neither damage nor claim.

Bent Herbst-Jensen is released from the Royal Canadian Air Force on 20 February 1946. [7]

Sources:

  1. Service record, Directorate of History, courtesy of Hugh Halliday
  2. New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957
  3. Service record, Directorate of History, courtesy of Hugh Halliday
  4. Service record, Directorate of History, courtesy of Hugh Halliday
  5. Service record, Directorate of History, courtesy of Hugh Halliday
  6. London Gazette, issue 37109
  7. Service record, Directorate of History, courtesy of Hugh Halliday

Created on 17 Aug 06, 6:31 - last edited on 12 Mar 16, 13:17