Danish WW2 Pilots

Milan Martiny

(1921 - 1943)

Milan Martiny served in the South African army in Abyssinia and Egypt before being selected for training as fighter pilot. He was killed in a training flight near Pretoria on 6 September 1943.

Milan 'Lani' Martiny was born on 23 June 1921 in Freiburg im Breisgau in Germany where his father and mother lived at the time. He was son of Dr. Camillo Martiny and Selena Camillo (née Ziv).[1] He was the brother of Oluf Martiny, who served in the SAAF as well.

In 1916, Dr. Martiny volunteered to go to Russia to work with prisoners of war for the Danish Red Cross. In April 1918, he became head of the Danish Red Cross mission in Moscow. He returned to Denmark in August 1919, but returned to Moscow in the spring of 1920 to help evacuating Danish nationals from Russia.[2] Selena Camillo was born in Schavly in Russia (today Šiauliai in Lithuania). The parents was married in Moscow in September 1918.[3] Having returned from Russia, the parents settled lived in Germany, where the father engaged highly qualified German professors as his tutors.

Milan Martiny developed eczema, a forerunner of astma, at an early age. Specialists in Berlin advised the family to move to a high altitude dry climate. They chose South Africa. In order to be able to practice medicine in the British Commonwealth, Dr. Martiny had to pass the Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery of the Society of Apothecaries in London in January 1922. Later that year, they emigrated to South Africa. The father did locums in Johannesburg until an attractive practice became available in Smithfield in the Orange Free State.[4]

Martiny was educated at Smithfield and moved to Johannesburg before the war to study engineering at the University of Witwaterand. He was accepted for service in the army early in the war and served with the 1st South African Division[5] in Abyssinia. His unit was later transferred to Egypt, and after some months there, he was selected for training as fighter pilot in the SAAF (178302V). He had been taking flying lessons before the war.[6]

Little information is available on Martiny’s service. On 6 September 1943, he was killed while pupil pilot at No. 23 Air School, Waterkloof, Pretoria. His Harvard IIA (ex EX663, 41-33636, c/n 88-12329) crashes on Delmas Road, 19 miles from Pretoria as part of the wing brakes of after pull out.[7] He was buried in the Thaba Tshwane (New) Military Cemetery.[8]


[1] Martiny, O. (2014). Thandabantu: “a person who likes people”, p. 14.

[2] Jensen, B. (2013). Dansk Røde Kors’ Ruslandsmission 1918-1919. Historisk Tidsskrift, 101(1), 45-75; Preben-Hansen, B. Da danskerne rejste fra borgerkrigen. Dansk krigsfangehjælp i Sovjet Rusland og Sibirien 1917-20. Personalhistorisk tidsskrift, 2011(1), 90-116.

[3] DNA: Parish registrer, Hørdum Sogn.

[4] Martiny, op.cit., p. 14-15.

[5] According to Oluf Martiny (2014), Milan Martiny served in the ‘South African Armoured Car Division’. Such a Division did not exist, but it is likely, that it is a reference to one of three Armoured Car Companies which were part of 1st South African Division in 1940-1941, cf. Orpen, N. (1968). East African and Abyssinian Campaign, p. 346.

[6] Martiny, op.cit., p. 118-124.

[7] Brent, W. (2005). 85 Years of South African Air Force.

[8] www.cwgc.org