Danish WW2 Pilots

Hans Ejnar Fugl-Svendsen

(1924 - 2020)

Hans Ejnar Fugl-Svendsen enrols in Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserve in 1943. He is trained as pilot on both single and multi-engined aircraft, but is due to his height posted to the Transport Command. In 1946 he is ferrying Oxfords from England to Karup, Denmark.

Hans Ejnar Fugl-Svendsen is born on 24 August 1924 in Denmark. He is the brother of Aksel Svendsen also a RAF pilot who lost his life in April 1942.

Hans Ejnar Fugl-Svendsen is brought up in Exeter, England, where his father is in business. He is educated at Heles School, Exeter, where he joins the Air Defence Cadet Corps in 1940-41. The corps is a squadron in its own right that provides basic training to the young men. At the same time, it provides RAF with future pilots with a basic pilot training. On the weekends the corps assists in the local Exeter Airport, where a Polish Hurricane squadron is stationed in 1941. He graduates from Heles School in September 1941 at the age of 17.

In March 1942, he visits his brother at Manston. Aksel Svendsen picks him up in Exeter Airport in a Miles Magister aircraft and they fly to RAF Station Manston where he is based at this point with 32 Squadron. It is his first flight, but the flight that he himself thinks was the beginning of his love of flying. He spends three days at Manston with his brother and Jørgen Thalbitzer, another Danish pilot at the squadron at the time.

Oxford and Oxford University Squadron

From 9 October 1942 to 30 March 1943, he is enrolled at Oxford University attending St.Edmunds Hall also known as “Teddy’s Hall”. He enrols in a government university short course programme. This a course that Hans Ejnar Fugl-Svendsen joins the university for a six month period following service in one of the armed forces. If the student survives the war, the Government will pay the remaining part of the university education.

He joins the Oxford University Air Squadron at Abingdon Airfield flying Tiger Moths. He is at Oxford from 9 October 1942 until 30 March 1943.

Pilot training

He is trained at the No. 22 Elementary Flight Training School in Cambridge. From 2–11 June 1943, he is trained on Tiger Moths.

He passes the test and is selected for pilot training in Canada crossing the Atlantic on the Queen Mary in August 1943. Crossing the Atlantic on this trip is Winston Churchill and the British High Command on their way to meet President Roosewelt at the Quebec Conference. Hans Ejnar Fugl-Svendsen recalls that they were called on parade one morning for an inspection by the Prime Minister. Noticing the 6 feet 5 inches of Hans Ejnar Fugl-Svendsen he remarked “This is one time that England has to look up to Denmark.”

He arrives in Halifax in late August 1943, and is transferred to No. 31 Elementary Flying Training School at De Winton on 1 September 1943. Following ground training, he is trained on Fairchild Cornell and is going solo after 8 hours of flight training.

Completing training at De Winton, Hans Ejnar Fugl-Svendsen is moved to No. 37 Service Flying Training School at Calgary on 11 November 1943. He is trained on Harvards but suffer from severe burns after an accident on 8 March 1944. He is confined in hospital for a number of days and then transferred to the No. 34 Service Flying Training at Medicine Hat; the reason for this transfer is that the No 37 SFTS closes at 10 March 1944.

Hans Ejnar Fugl-Svendsen receives his wings on 21 April 1944.

Operational Training

He returns to England and is posted at the No. 7 Advanced Flying Unit at Peterborough. On 30 November 1944 he is given his first experience flying solo in a Spitfire. The flight lasted 55 minutes, and according to Hans Ejnar Fugl-Svendsen he spent most of the time trying to find his way.

He is then sent to No. 61 Operational Training Unit at Rednal (course No. 52). Familiarised with the local area in an Oxford aircraft, he is trained on Spitfire Mk. V’s. However, having had only a few flights on Spitifres, he is sent to No. 56 Operational Training Unit at Milfield on 4 January 1945. Here he is to be trained for the Typhoon and Tempest fighters.

This is only for a short while, though. An Australian pilot about the same height as Hans Ejnar Fugl-Svendsen has the top of his head cut off on landing because the when the open canopy in pressed forward while the pilot was raised in his seat. Checking Hans Ejnar Fugl-Svendsen it is found out that he is not wearing his dinghy between the parachute and his bottom, because of his height. This ends his fighter pilot training.

At this point Hans Ejnar Fugl-Svendsen has been promoted to Flight Lieutenant.

Transport and Ferry Service

He is then sent to a twin engine conversion at Church Lawford on 4 April 1945 which is followed by training at No. 3 Advanced Flying Unit at South Cerney and No 1380 (Transport) Conversion Unit at Tilstock from 4 September 1945. Experienced on both single and multiengined combat aircraft, he is asked to follow a course in the then new Beam Appoach System (BAS) and then train other pilots at Transport Command Stations in using the system.

In November 1946, he is posted to No. 16 Ferry Unit at St. Mawgan and then to No. 1 Ferry Unit at Pershore. Here he is flying Mosquitos being used as the standard training aircraft.

At the ferry unit, he is ferrying Wellingtons to France and, of most importance to his later life, Oxfords to Karup Air Station in Denmark. On one of the latter flights he encounters Captain Emil Damm, then Chief Pilot of Det danske Luftfartsselskab (Danish Airlines), who offers him a job in the company when demobilised.

The last ferry flight

He is demobilised on 1 March 1947 after the last ferry flight. Hans Ejnar Fugl-Svendsen’s last ferry flight is to ferry an Avro Anson XIX from England to Singapore. They leave England on 13 January 1947 and arrive at Seleter Airport one month later. En-route they stop at all RAF Stations en fly 68 hours. One of the legs from Mergui, Burma, to RAF Station Butterworth, Penang, is longer than the aircraft is able to fly. Therefore, they load petrol cans in the cabin and refuel in Phuket, Thailand, then only a simple landing strip and not the airport it is today.

He returns to Denmark in March 1947 to join Danish Airlines as pilot. Of many remarkable flights the first commercial flight across the Geographical North Pole from Tokyo via Anchorage to Copenhagen in 1957 has to be mentioned.

He retires from Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) in 1980 as Deputy Director of Flight Operations having flown more than 21,000 hours. He accepts the position as Regional Technical Director of the IATA Asia/Pacific Region with office in Bangkok. Hans Ejnar Fugl-Svendsen still lives in Thailand and has supplied the information to this description of his life in RAFVR (H E Fugl-Svendsen’s personal website and personal correspondence; Bertelsen, 1985).