Danish WW2 Pilots

Sgt. Leif Bangsbøl

(1919 - 2001)

Leif Bangsbøll volunteers for the Royal Norwegian Air Force in 1941. For some reason he leaves Canada to enlist for the U.S. Army. and ends as agent in the Office of the Strategic Services (O.S.S).

Leif Bangsbøll is born on 21 July 1919 in Copenhagen, Denmark. In the late 1930’s he is at sea.

On 20 February 1936 he is signed on the S.S. CANADA of the East Asia Company as messroomboy. On 9 April 1936 he arrives in Seattle, Washington, from Vancouver, British Columbia on-board this ship. Three years later, on 23 December 1939, he arrives in New York on-board S.S. BERGENSFJORD, which had left Oslo, Norway, on 14 December 1939. His occupation is stated as assistant engineer.

In Atlantic Convoy Service

Following the outbreak of the war Leif Bangsbøll is in Atlantic convoy service. On 2 July 1940 he arrives in New York from the French port of Le Havre on-board the Panama Transport Company tanker C.O. STILLMAN. The C.O. STILLMAN loads its first wartime cargo on 2 September 1939. On 9 November 1939 after signing the Neutrality Act she is manned by a Danish crew in Halifax. Leif Bangbøll signes on the C.O. STILLMAN in Copenhagen on 27 March 1940 just before the German occupation in Denmark. The U.S. Immigration records states that he has 2 years of experience at sea.

The C.O. STILLMAN arrives in New York from the French port of Le Havre on 2 July 1940. As the ship is manned by an American crew on 12 August 1940, Leif Bangsbøll is apparently discharged at this point. The ship is torpedoed on 5 June 1942 south west of Puerto Rico. Three of the crew is lost.

On 20 August 1940 Leif Bangsbøll is then signed on the M/S ESSO BALBOA on-board which he arrives in New York from Caripito, Venezuela, on 8 September 1940. This ship was officially completed in a shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, on 31 October 1939 and accepted by the Panama Transport Company. On 2 November 1939 she is taken on charge by a Danish crew in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is manned by a series of Danish crews throughout the war. Another later Danish airman, Jørgen Ryhl Bineau has just signed of the ship after arriving in New York on 13 August 1940.

Volunteers for the Royal Norwegian Air Forces

At some point, most likely during 1941, Leif Bangsbøll volunteers for the Royal Norwegian Forces. It is possible to establish this from the records of border crossings from Canada to the United States.

The first of several records of Leif Bangsbøll crossing the border from Canada to the United States is dated 6 January 1942. For the first time the last permanent address is indicated as the Royal Norwegian Air Force, Toronto, and the occupation as aviator. Furthermore it is indicated that he has been in New York city from 3 July 1940 to 1 January 1941. He is on visit and leaves the United States again on 10 January 1942.

Leif Bangsbøll crosses the border several times during 1942-43 visiting New York. The occupation indicated in the immigration records varies from airman to soldier. From these records, therefore, one can only guess his occupation in camp “Little Norway.”

Volunteers for the U.S. Army

On 16 March 1943 Leif Bangsbøll crosses the border again. The destination is given as the U.S. Inter-Allied Personnel Board, Washington, D.C. Six days later, on 23 March 1943, he enlists for the for the U.S. Army for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months.

At some point Leif Bangsbøll is posted to the Office of the Strategic Services (O.S.S.). On 4 October 1944 a Leif Bangsbøll is brought into action as agent Hudson by air. I have every reason to believe that this is the same man, but as yet no documentation. It seems unlikely that two persons of this name should have been attached to O.S.S., though.

On 30 Apr 1963 Leif Bangsbøll retires as Lieutenant Colonel having served in Korea as well as the Second World War. He is buried at the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington. He is awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

(Jespersen, 2000; Rønhof, 1996; Standard Oil Company, 1946; New York Passenger Lists; Wold, 1990; Seattle Passenger Lists; U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records; ancestry.co.uk; www.homeofheroes.com)