Jørgen Kjeldbæk was one of many Danes abroad at the outbreak of war, working for the East Asia Company. He is evacuated from the Far East following the Japanese advance, and is trained as pilot in England in 1942.
Jørgen Kjeldbæk is born in Varde on 15 May 1914. He is the son of Marinus Kjeldbæk (1887-1943) and Jenny Jensen (1889-1940).
Before the Second World War, Jørgen Kjeldbæk left Denmark to work for the Danish East Asia Company in Malaysia. He was trained in plantation management. On 10 December 1941, the time of the Japanese attack, he is based in Burma. He was evacuated to England during spring 1942.
Joining the Royal Air Force
In May 1942, Jørgen Kjeldbæk arrives in England where he joins Royal Air Force. According to Ancker (2001), he is in RAF service from May 1942 to June 1945. He is trained as pilot. His final training is at 5 Pilots Advanced Flying Unit (No. 45 intake) from 9 February 1943 and then at No. 58 Operational Training Unit until May 1943.
On 25 May 1943 he is posted to No. 234 (Madras Presidency) Squadron then based at RAF Skaebrae, Orkney Islands, flying Spitfire VI. Few operations are recorded in the Operational Record Book for this period. In fact during all during July 1943 no diary is kept. During the remaining period at No. 234 (Madras Presidency) Squadron six operational sorties of Jørgen Kjeldbæk are recorded.
In October 1943 he is posted to No. 222 Squadron holding the rang of Flying Sergeant.
On 28 October 1943 he is posted to No. 501 Squadron. He is posted at the squadron at the time of D-day. A photo in Ancker (2001) shows Jørgen Kjeldbæk sitting on the cowling of a No. 501 Sqn. Spitfire Vb carrying black and white invasion markings on the lower wings. At the time of D-day, 501 Squadron is one of 83 Group Reserve Squadrons. In mid-July, the squadron is the first Spitfire unit to convert to Tempest V.
In August 1944 Jørgen Kjeldbæk is posted to No. 274 Squadron having then been transferred to 2nd Tactical Air Force.
Returning to Denmark
At the end of the war, Jørgen Kjeldbæk returns to Malaysia to work for the East Asia Company. He went back to Denmark in 1955, and there he joined the Royal Danish Air Force. He leaves the force in 1957 to return to the East Asia Company to establish a plantation in Ghana.
Jørgen Kjeldbæk died in 1978 and is buried in Denmark.
(Ancker, 2001; Shores and Thomas, 2005; Walpole, 2007; unit information provided by Philippe Listemann, www.raf-in-combat.com, and Stein Meum; www.nittebjerger.dk, private correspondance with the Kjeldbæk family)