Danish WW2 Pilots

Sgt John Gregers Rosenstand Elbo

(1922 - 1954)

Sgt J. G. R. Elbo was born in England in 1922, by Danish parents. He volunteered for the Royal Air Force during the war and was engaged in intelligence work.

John Gregers Rosenstand Elbo was born on 7 May 1922 in Finsbury, Greater London, the son Max Johannes Melchins Elbo and Karen Foss Elbo (née Rosenstand).[1] His parents were Danish. He was educated at Mill Hill School, but the war interfered with his further education.[2]

Elbo volunteered for the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and was chiefly engaged in intelligence work using his linguistic abilities.[3] In December 1942, he was included in a list of Danish ground crew in the Royal Air Force. At that point he served at Air Ministry Wireless Telegraphy, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, as Leading Aircraftman (1213104).[4] He was later promoted to Sergeant.[5] He is demobilized in 1946.

In December 1946 he was appointed Assistant in Scandinavian Studies at the Scott Polar Research Institute, and in 1947, he became an undergraduate in modern languages at Trinity Hall. He continued to work part time for the Polar Institute, and specialized in study of northern Scandinavia, Svalbard and Greenland. In 1948, he spent the summer in Spitsbergen with a party from the Scottish Spitsbergen Syndicate. Having graduated in 1950, he decided to study for a research degree in Eskimo philology, but never finished his thesis. His heath deteriorated and despite treatment he died in 1954 at the age of 31.[6]

A glacier on Spitsbergen was named after him in 1956; the Elbo glacier (Elbobreen).[7]


[1] Ancestry: England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007.

[2] (1954). Obituary. Polar Record, 7(48), 233-235.

[3] T.E.A. (1955). John Gregers Rosenstand Elbo 1922-1954. The Geographical Journal, 121(1), 123-124.

[4] DNA: 10194, Det danske Råd i London, Rekrutteringskontoret.

[5] Frihedsmuseets database over søfolk og soldater 1939-45, http://allieret.natmus.dk/person.aspx?84606 (accessed 13 February 2021).

[6] T.E.A., op.cit.

[7] Elbobreen, Place names in Norwegian polar areas, https://stadnamn.npolar.no/Elbobreen/Svalbard (accessed on 13 February 2021).