Danish WW2 Pilots

Carl Dan Hansen

(1921 - 1943)

S/Sgt Carl D. Hansen was one of the more than 30,000 Danish-Americans who were mobilized during the Second World War. He was trained as a gunner and served in the Twelfth Air Force in Northern Africa. He was killed in action on 6 April 1943, when his aircraft was hit by flak at La Fauconnerie in Tunisia.

Carl Dahn Hansen was born on 6 April 1943 in Middelfart, Denmark. He was the son of mechanic Lars Hansen and Anna Kristine (Christine) Hansen.[1]

The parents lived in California from 1910 to 1920[2] and were were married in Oakland on 25 February 1913.[3] Hansen was born during a stay in Denmark, and the family returned to Oakland in June 1921.[4] Hansen was raised in Oakland and graduated from the Freemont High School in January 1939. He trained as a civilian pilot at the Oakland Airport before the war.[5]

U.S. Army Air Force

Hansen enlisted in the U.S. Army (Air Corps) in San Francisco on 27 August 1941 (19053090). He trained at a technical school in Denver, Colorado, and was later posted to Las Vegas Gunnery School, Nevada. He served on active duty in Iceland and England before bering posted to North Africa.[6]

The date of Hansen’s posting to North Africa is not clear, but 86th Bomb Squadron, 47th Bomb Group (Light) left the USA for North Africa in late September 1942. They flew via Goose Bay, Greenland and Iceland and Scotland to the United Kingdom, and then from Cornwall to Casablanca. In mid-December 1942, they started moving into Tunisia to commence operations.[7]

The group became part of the Northwest African Air Forces in March 1943.[8]

The Last Mission

The war in Northern Africa was drawing to an end. Towards the end of March 1943, the Eighth Army had passed the Mareth Line and the Axis forces had retreated to Oued el Akarit north of Gabès. The Allies opened the next offensive in the early hours of the 6 April 1943.[9] The primary task of the Tactical Air Force was to hit enemy airfields.[10]

During the day, B-25s and Douglas A-20 Havocs attacked landing grounds and airfields at Enfidaville, La Fauconnerie, and El Djem in Tunisia.[11] Hansen’s crew was part of the force. The A-20B was hit by flak at La Fauconnerie and Hansen, who was the gunner of the aircraft was killed in action.[12] Hansen appears to have been the only casualty of the aircraft. The attacks were a success; by 7 April 1943, the Axis forces had to abandon the forward landing grounds and airfields.

Hansen is buried in the North Africa American Cemetery in Tunis, Tunisia. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Air Medal.[13]

Endnotes

[1] DNA: Parish register, Middelfart Sogn.

[2] Ancestry: 1920 United States Federal Census.

[3] Ancestry: California, Marriage Records from Select Counties, 1850-1941.

[4] Ancestry: New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957.

[5] Oakland Airman Killed in Africa, Oakland Tribune, 16 May 1943, p. 42.

[6] Ibid.

[7] 47th Bombardment Group Website, http://www.47thbombgroup.org (accessed 12 January 2020).

[8] Center for Air Force History (2013). The AAF in Northwest Africa. An Account of the Twelfth Air Force in the Northwest African Landings and the Battle for Tunisia (6), p. 45.

[9] Shores, C. (2016). Tunisia and the end in Africa : November 1942–May 1943 (3), p. 450.

[10] Center for Air Force History , op.cit., p. 49.

[11] Carter, K. C. and Mueller, R. (1991). Combat chronology, 1941-1945. Washington: Center for Air Force History.

[12] Shores, C. (2016). op.cit., p. 451.

[13] American Battle Monuments Commission, https://www.abmc.gov/node/534656 (accessed 12 January 2020).