Danish WW2 Pilots

Niels Viggo Halfdan de Meza von Holstein-Rathlou

(1910 - 1949)

Niels von Holstein-Rathlou is trained as pilot in the Army before the Second World War. In 1944, he is commander of the Danish squadron set up in Sweden. He is killed in a flying accident in 1949.

Niels von Holstein-Rathlou is born on 4 December 1910.

Army Pilot

He joins the Danish army and is appointed Sekondløjtnant (2nd Lieutenant) on 7 September 1934. He is further promoted to Premierløjtnant (1st Lieutenant on 1 November 1934.

In 1936, he is trained as pilot earning his wings in later that year (pilot’s certificate 184/36). He is then attached to the 9th Artillery Unit. On 1 November 1938 he is promoted to Kaptajnløjtnant (Lieutenant Captain) and on the first day of 1941 he is finally promoted to Kaptajn (Captain).


Following the German siege of the armed forces in August 1943, Niels von Holstein-Rathlou escapes to Sweden and is made commander of the air force of DANFORCE, the Danish Brigade in Sweden during 1944-45. From 14 April 1944 and until a few days after the surrender of the German troops in Denmark, he is attached to different units of the Swedish Air Force. The Danish squadron returns to Denmark on 12 May 1945 by train, and never saw combat.

After the War

Niels von Holstein-Rathlou returns to the Danish Army Air Services after the war. On 28 September 1949 he is killed when his aircraft, Spitfire H.F. IX "413" (ex. PT931) crashes into Øresund outside Skodsborg (north of Copenhagen). He is then squadron leader of Sjællandske Flyverafdeling (Army Air Corps, Sealand Section)

(Ancker, 2001; Clauson Kaas, 1943; Holm, 1995; Jensen, 2000; Morgan and Shacklady, 2000; HfH, 1949-50)