Karen Andersen (m. Holst-Try) was one of the Danish women who volunteered for the Women's Auxiliary Air Force during the Second World War. She had arrived in England in 1937 and served in different households in the late 1930s.Karen Andersen was born on 2 May 1913 in Ebeltoft, daughter of shoemaker and leather merchant Christian Andersen and Mariane Andersen (née Jensen). Karen’s father was a prominent figure in the local business community. He was a member of the association of craftsmen and industry in Ebeltoft (Ebeltoft Haandværker- og Industriforening) from 1895 and chairman of the association from 1916-25.
The family lived in the centre of Ebeltoft and Karen was educated at Ebeltoft Borger- og Realskole.
Moving to England
In May 1937, Karen left Denmark for England. On the ship from Esbjerg to Harwich she met Magda Marie Andersen, who became a life-long friend. Karen and Magda were both going to serve in the same households in the coming years, and during the war, they enlisted in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force together.
Karen and Magda worked for the Macleans at Scots Hill House in Croxley Green. Douglas Colquhoun Maclean was the director and export manager for George G. Sandeman Sons & Co., one of the world’s great Port houses. Magda worked as a cook, and Karen as chambermaid. In September 1939, shortly after the outbreak of war, the family seems to have stayed at The Ford in Abbotsbrook in Buckinghamshire.
The Macleans and their two girls moved from southern England to Scotland because of the imminent thread of a German invasion. Magda og Karen came to work for a Mrs Wallace at Holyport House, Holyport, from 11 March 1940 and shortly after they moved again to Rawdon Hall, Holyport, working for Mrs Chamberlain from 2 July 1940.
Princess Mary's RAF Nursing Service
Karen and Magda enlisted for the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) on 11 June 1941 in Reading. They were both stationed at the Princess Mary’s RAF Hospital, Halton. This hospital had been established in 1927, when it was clear that the air force needed a large and modern hospital. The hospital expanded significantly after the outbreak of war, and in 1945 more than 11,000 patients were treated at the hospital. The nature of Karen’s work in Halton is not known.
Norsk kvinnekorps (the Norwegian Women’s Corps)
Karen Andersen met the Norwegian Army serviceman Jarle Holst-Try During the war and the couple was married in the Norwegian church in Rotherhithe on 10 September 1943. Magda Marie Andersen was one of the vitnesses to the mariage. Karen transferred to the Norwegian Women’s Corps (NKK) in Scotland at some point.
 DNA: Parish register, Ebeltoft Sogn.
 Sølver-Schou, A. (1933). Dansk Haandværker-Stat. Haandværket og haandværksmesteren i de danske købstæder, p. 126-127.
 DNA: 1906-1930 Censuses; Parish Register, Ebeltoft Sogn.
 Ancestry: 1939 Register og England and Wales.
 Nilsen, Abbreviated version Magda's history, unpublished.
 Rexford-Welch, S. L. S. C. (1954). The Royal Air Force Medical Services, Vol. I, Administration.
 Public Records Office (UK): Certified copy of an entry of marriage.
 Frihedsmuseets database over søfolk og soldater i allieret tjeneste, 1939-45, http://allieret.natmus.dk/person.aspx?84794 (accessed on 2 January 2021).