Danish WW2 Pilots

T/F/O Hans Martensen

(1922 - 1994)

Hans Martensen was one of several young sailors on-board the Danish training ship Danmark that stranded in United States in 1940 due to the war. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943.

Hans Martensen is born on 27 august 1922 in Brande, Denmark. He is the son of Christian (1895-1924) and Kirsten Martensen (1902-). The family emigrates to the United States in 1924, but following his father’s early death, he returns to Denmark in 1929 living with his grandparents.

From the Ellis Island records it can be established, that Hans Martensens parents where in New York prior to the birth of the son. A Christian Martensen arrives in New York from Southampton on 21 April 1921 onboard the ship M/S AQUITANIA. Kirsten Gemünte Rasmussen (maiden name) arrives in New York from Copenhagen onboard the ship M/S HELLIG OLAV on 13 July 1921. I have not been able to trace Christian Martensen to ship, but they are married on the next day in the Danish Church in Brooklyn. In 1923, it is possible to trace the father to the ship M/S MAURETANIA arriving to New York from Southampton on 5 October 1923 (www.ellisisland.org).

Finishing lower secondary school, he signs on the training ship Georg Stage leaving Copenhagen on 20 April 1939. Later in 1939, he signs on the training ship Danmark that leaves Copenhagen for New York on 8 August 1939. The cruise was supposed to last 10 months, but the vessel did not return until 13 November 1945 because of the outbreak of war. The training ship Danmark was scheduled to return from Jacksonville on 10 April 1940, but following the German occupation of Denmark on the 9th this did not happen. on board were several young men, who volunteer for service in the allied forces. Of these Hans Martensen and Andreas Petersen volunteer for the Royal Canadian Air Force and Viggo Pedersen volunteers for Royal Canadian Navy, Naval Air Service.

Hans Martensen signs off the ship and is engaged by different vessels in the Caribbean the following year. On 8 December 1941, he is re-engaged on the training ship Denmark to help transfer the ship to the American Coast Guard Academy.

Volunteers for the Royal Canadian Air Force

Hans Martensen and his two fellow shipmates try to volunteer for the Royal Norwegian Air Force in Toronto, Canada. However, the Norwegians are not recruiting at this point, because of restructuring. Therefore, Hans Martensen is turned down by the Norwegians on 8 October 1942. Instead he volunteers for the Royal Canadian Air Force, and is accepted on 3 February 1943, where he reports to 5th Manning Depot.

He is trained as pilot at many different units. Following a three months course at the University of Montreal from 3 April to 16 June 1943, he commences training at No. 3 Initial Training School, Victoriaville, Quebec, from 16 June to 20 August 1943. He is then transferred to No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School, Windsor Hills, until 17 October 1943.

On 17 October 1943, he proceeds to No. 8 Service Flying Training School, first at Moncton, New Brunswick, until 21 January 1944 and later at Weyburn, Saskatchewan, from 23 January until 6 April 1944. Hans Martensen is trained on Harwards at the school that is moved due to bad flying conditions at Moncton. Hans Martensen gets his wings on 6 April 1944 and is promoted to Pilot Officer.

Operational Training

On 20 April 1944, Hans Martensen reports to No. 1 Operational Training Unit, Bagotville, for operational training. Here he flies his first solo in a Hurricane on 28 April 1944. Following the stat at No. 1 Operational Training Unit, he is traned at its subsidiary No. 1 Advanced Tactical Training Detachment, Greenwood, N.S., from 2-16 August 1944 and No. 1 Canadian Armoured Corps Training Regiment, Camp Bordon, Ontario, from 16 August to 1 September 1944. He is then transferred to Great Britain onboard the M/S QUEEN ELISABETH arriving in Bournemounth on 1 October 1944.

He continues training at No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School, Panshanger, from 10-17 November 1944 and on No. 53 Operational Training Unit, Kirtoninlindsey and later Mibalsïowe, until 23 February 1945. Here he is trained on Spitfire under the guidance of Captain Nyerrød, a Norwegian pilot.

He is transferred to No. 83 Ground Support Unit, Dunsfold, on 26 February 1945 leaving the unit again on 4 March 1945. Hans Martensen calls Dunsfold the waiting room of the 2nd Tactical Air Force in England.

Operational in 411 Squadron

He is posted to 411 Squadron, 126 Wing, at B.88 Heesch in Holland on 4 March 1945. This is a unit of some 2,000 men and 90 Spitfires at the time. He is flying his first operational sortie on 8 March 1945. At the end of the same month, he has logged more than 33 hours of operational flying. On 23 March 1945, he is part of the air cover for the crossing of the Rhine.

He follows 411 Squadron as the unit advanced from B.88 to B.108 Rheine, to B.116 Wunstorf. He is on leave in England from 27 April to 5 May 1945 and returns to Wunstorf as the German forces in the area surrender.

While on a 48-hours leave on 9-10 May 1945, Hans Martensens and a number of fellow pilots travel from Germany to his birth town, Brande, to visit his family. The pilots are received as heros in the small Danish town.

After the liberation, the 126 Wing is initially posted to B.152 Fassberg, Germany. They spent a short while in Warmwell, England, converting to Spitfire XVI, before returning to Germany at B.174 Ütersen.

Returning home

On 19 March 1946, Hans Martensen leaves Germany for England and on 2 April 1946 he crosses the Atlantic again bound for Canada.

He is honourably released from the Royal Canadian Air Force on 10 June 1946 and arrives in Denmark by ship on 22 June 1946. He is decorated with 1939/45 Star, France & Germany Star and Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Clasp.

The information on Hans Martensen origins if not stated otherwise from his wartime memories concluded on 19 July 1946. The memories were published in 1998 edited by Poul Westergaard Jensen in the book Med Skoleskib og Spitfire (by training ship and Spitfire) (Jensen, 1998).