Danish WW2 Pilots

Svend Sondergaard

(1921 - 1943)

Svend Sondergaard was one of two brothers serving as Flight Engineer in the RCAF during the Second World War. He was killed in action during a raid on Frankfurt in December 1943.

Svend Sondergaard (Søndergaard) was born on 29 December 1921 in Jebjerg in Denmark to farmer Lars Christian Andersen Søndergaard and Bodil Kirstine Søndergaard (née Pedersen).[1] He was the younger brother of Andrew Christian Sondergard, DFC, who served in 405 Sqn. The family emigrated to Canada in 1929.

Royal Canadian Air Force

Sondergaard enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in July 1941 (R.109492). He was transferred to England in March 1943 and posted to 426 Squadron as an Airframe Mechanic (ground crew) on 23 April 1943. In August, he successfully applied to enlist for aircrew duties. The selection board form documents that he was ‘Very keen to follow in brother’s footsteps who had just completed tour of Ops as F/Eng.’[2] About a month later, on 14 September, he was remustered as a flight engineer under training, and posted to 1659 CU. He finished training on 10 October 1943, and joined the crew of Fg Off. J. M. Grieve (J.22270) for flying training. The crew was posted to 427 Squadron for operational duties on 8 November, and Sondergaard carried out his first operation on 26–27 November 1943, when Bomber Command returned to Stuttgart.

Leipzig

On 3–4 December, Sondergaard and his brother were briefed for a raid on Leipzig. A. C. Sondergaard’s crew was first of the two over target, observing a number of scattered target indicators and flares on arrival. The bomb load was released at 3.58 hours, and the crew dropped two target indicators just after. At this point, the bombing appeared scattered. Minutes later, Sondergaard’s crew arrived over the target area and bombed at 4.13 hours. The bombing seemed well concentrated, but the cloud cover made observation impossible. The Pathfinders had marked the target accurately, and the bombing was, as it turned out, effective. The result was the most successful raid on Leipzig during the entire war. Both brothers returned to safely to base.

Failed to return

On 20–21 December, the target was Frankfurt. Three Danes were part of the raid: Fg Off. Niels Erik Westergaard and both Sondergaard brothers. This was Sondergaard’s final operation. The crew failed to return.

Halifax V LK644/ZL-C took off from RAF Station Leeming at 16.15 hours, and nothing was heard from the crew following take off. The crew of seven was killed. Several crews from the squadron were either attacked by or observed enemy fighters, and crews reported intense flak opposition and search lights. Sondergaard’s Halifax was one of forty-one aircraft lost in the operation.

Sondergaard’s elder brother and Westergaard returned undamaged from the operation, both crews reporting scattered marking and bombing. The operation did not go entirely to plan, but, nevertheless, considerable damage was inflicted on the city.[3]

Endnotes

[1] DNA: Parish register, Hjerm Sogn.

[2] LAC: RG 24/28697.

[3] NA: AIR 27/1845.