Danish WW2 Pilots

LAC Neil Hyland Svendsen

(1915 - 2003)

Although mentioned in Ancker (2006) is one of the Danes in allied air force service, I have no indication suggesting that Neil Hyland Svendsen was in fact Danish. On the contrary.

Neil Hyland Svendsen is born on 27 January 1915 in Puhekohe, New Zealand. He is the son of Herbert Neil Svendsen.

In RAF service from 1937

He enlists in his home town in July 1937 and embarks for Southampton, England, the same year. He is trained as pilot at Elementary Training School, Ansty, England, from September to November 1937 and at No.10 RAF Flying Training School, Tern Hill, Shropshire, from December 1937-to June 1938.

Bomber Command

During his wartime service he participates in bombing operations on targets in Germany and France, mine laying in the North Sea, and the first Bombing raid on Berlin on August 25, 1940.

During his service he is attached to No. 185 Squadron from July 1938 to October 1939; 83 Squadron RAF, Scampton, Lincolnshire, from November 1939 to June 1941; No. 9 Squadron, Waddington, Lincolnshire, from August 1945-November 1946; and No. 50 Squadron from December 1946 to May 1947.

He is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 1939-45 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-1945 and Bomber Command Medal.


On the night of 30 June 1941, he takes off in Hampden () with his crew on a bombing raid to Dusseldorf, Germany, to make an attack on the industrial area. The aircraft is hit by flak in the starboard engine and goes into a spin. The crew manages to to pull the aircraft out of the spin. The aircraft is, however, badly damaged and Neil Hyland Svendsen orders the crew to bail out over German territory. He is captured in the town of Duren and brougt to a prisoner-of-war camp. He spends the rest of the war - 1.410 - in the following camps: Dulag Luft III, Oflag IX, Spangenburg, Oflag VI B, Schubin, and Stalag Luft III, Sagan. He is liberated in May 1945 and discharged holding the rank of Squadron Leader in January 1947. On discharge he returns to New Zealand.

(Ancker, 2006; Auckland Museum)