Danish WW2 Pilots

Plt Off. (prob.) Svend Erik van der Aa Kühle

(1918 - 1942)

Svend Erik van der Aa Kühle is born in Sweden, raised in Denmark, and living in Kenya at the outbreak of war. He is one of three brothers in British service. A trained pilot, he is attached to No. 274 Squadron during the North African campaign. He has one aerial victory, before he is killed in action in February 1942.

Svend Erik van der Aa Kühle is born on 19 December 1912 in Sweden, where his family owned an estate. He is son of Carl Gustav van der Aa Kühle (1982-1939) and Eli van der Aa Kühle (1884-1979) and grand son of Søren Anthon van der Aa Kühle, managing director of the Carlsberg Breweries. In 1918 the family returns to Denmark. Before the war Sven Erik and two of his brothers emigrate to Kenya. [1]

Svend Erik van der Aa Kühle first attested into the Kenya Regiment (KR1671) before volunteering for the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He is promoted from Sergeant to Pilot Officer on probation on 11 June 1941 (776088 / 113841 or 120061, RAFVR). Later that year he is posted to No. 274 Squadron flying Hawker Hurricane during the campaign in North Africa. [2]

An Arial Victory

On 9 December 1941 two Hurricanes of No. 274 Squadron are scrambled at 0900 hours. P/O Kuhle in Hurricane Mk. IIB (Z.5064) and Sergeant Hendersen in Hurricane Mk. II (Z.2835). Their mission is to carry out a patrol, but shortly after take off a German JU.88 of 2.(F)/123 is sighted at 15,000 feet flying in a Westerly direction. The Hurricanes set in that direction and Svend Erik van der Aa Kühle manages to put a number of bursts of ammunition into it. [3] Two aircraft of No. 73 Squadron join in with the result

that the port engine of the aircraft caught fire and the JU.88 went into a shallow dive and 3 of the crew bailed out, the enemy aircraft exploding and crashed leaving a large column of smoke 15 miles south of Sollum. [4]

In the Operational Record Book Kühle is credited with the victory. In the following weeks, P/O Kühle participates in more than 25 missions as Rommel’s forces advance. [5]

The Last Mission

On 12 February 1942 is part of a force of Hurricanes of Nos. 73 and 274 Squadrons. They meet a force of Ju 87’s of I/St.G 3 escorted by Bf. 109’s of JG 27 and Italian MC 200’s. The legendary German fighter ace Leutnant Hans-Joachim Marseille attacks the British fighters claiming four victories in eight minutes.

Sgt. Henderson crash-landed south of Tobruk believing that he had been hit by flak, and Sgt. Parbury baled out under the same mis-apprehension, neither pilot having spotted their attacker. The Hurricane of PO Kuhle was seen diving inverted into the sea, and that of Fl. Lt. Smith, who had just shot down a MC 200, was seen to follow it into the sea. [6]

Sven Erik van der Aa Kühle is killed in this incident. He is buried at the Tobruk War Cemetery. [7]


  1. www.kyhle.dk
  2. Bruce Rooken-Smi​th, AIR 27/1589, London Gazette Nos. 35721 and 35759, www.cwgc.org
  3. Shores and Ring, 1969
  4. AIR 27/1589
  5. AIR 27/1589
  6. Shores and Ring, 1969
  7. www.cwgc.org