Vagn Frants Christensen
(1913 - 1997)
In September 1939, while war is declared, Vagn Christensen is working in London for Det danske Luftfartsselskab (the Danish Airlines). Following the German occupation of Denmark, he volunteers for the Royal Air Force. He is in service until 1 January 1946.
Vagn Christensen is the son of Frantz, owner of a well-known Copenhagen restaurant Langelinie Pavillionen, and Bodil Elvira Christensen. Ending his studies at the Copenhagen Business College, he is trained in Hotel Management in hotels around the world; in Paris, France (Hotel George V), in London, England (Grosvenor House), in Los Angeles and San Fransisco, United States, in Hamburg, Germany (Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten) in 1933-1935. He travels from Southampton on-board S.S. MANHATTAN arriving in New York 25 October 1934.
In 1937, he is employed by Det danske Luftfartsselskab (Danish Airlines) working in their travel agency in Copenhagen. In association with Lufthansa, the airline commences flying on Copenhagen – Hamburg – London (Croydon) in the late 1930’s flying Fokker F-XII at first, and later two Focke Wulff Condors 'Dania' and 'Jutlandia'. In 1939 he is employed in Danish Airlines' London branch.
The war breaks out
When the war in Europe begins, the air service continues, though it is moved from Croydon to Shoreham, Sussex. On 9 April 1940, due to the German occupation of Denmark, the service is finally cancelled and the aircraft 'Dania' is taken over by the British.
Vagn Christensen volunteers for the British Army with the intention of fighting in Norway, but is not accepted. Pure logic suggests that this is before 10 June 1940. Instead, he works as translator for the BBC in this period.
At some point, he volunteers for Royal Air Force and is accepted for pilot’s training. He is trained in Canada as well as in England. I have not been able to trace a transfer from England to United States in the U.S. Immigration Records, but Vagn Christensen is part of No. 63 Intake at No. 5 (P) AFU, Tern Hill, from 15 June 1943. Following this course he is transferred to No. 53 Operational Training Unit, Kirton-in-Lindsey. Erik Flohr Jacobsen is part of the same training.
On 24 November 1943 he is posted to 234 (Madras Presidency) Squadron flying Spitfires. He is posted at this squadron until the beginning of April 1944, but the Operational Record Book records only 4 operational sorties for Vagn Christensen during these months. The first of these are on 5 February 1944.
On 7 April 1944 he is transferred to No. 1 Squadron at North Weald. This squadron is converting from Typhoon Ibs to Spitfire IXs in April 1944 and moving from North Weald to Predannack on 29 April 1944. Vagn Christensen’s first operational sortie from Predannack is on 1 May 1944. He participates e.g. in attacks on ships in the North Sea and V1-bombs, and also in the air cover on D-day.
On 5 May 1945, when the German forces in Denmark surrenders, he is stationed at a RAF Station in Southern England. In his own words, he is attached to a special unit of 12 Spitfires designated for the liberated Denmark. He has been attached to this unit because of his skills in Danish and German. He arrives in Denmark on 7 May 1945 and acts as liaison officer between the British forces and the Danish Government. I have not been able to trace the exact identity of this unit. It is certain, that No. 41 Squadron lands in Copenhagen on 9 May 1945.
Following the liberation, based in Pond Street he is in charge of the Royal Danish Military Transport Command responsible for air transport between London and liberated Copenhagen.
After the war, Vagn Christensen returns to Danish Airlines which later becomes part of Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS). He is managing director of Scandinavian Airlines System Ltd. from 1948 to 1978.
(Ancker, 2001; Bertelsen, 1985; Krak's Blå Bog, 1996-1997; AIR 27/4; AIR 27/1440; New York Passenger and Immigration Records).