Danish WW2 Pilots

Sqn Ldr Henry Gordon Francis Larsen

(1916 - 1957)

While it is certain that Henry Gordon Francis Larsen was in service in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, I am not certain that he was in fact Danish born as his family name could suggests.

Henry Gordon Francis Larsen is naturalized as British subject on 9 June 1932. He is the son of Paul Larsen a Fine Arts Dealer then living in Bickley, Kent. The London Gazette entry giving this piece of information also suggests that Paul Larsen is from Austria. According to another source he is born in New York. Contrary Ancker (2006) lists H G F Larsen as a Dane.

Army Officer

Before the war H G F Larsen is attached to the army. On 8 July 1939 he is commissioned as Second Lieutenant (94695), Royal Regiment of Artillery (Supplementary Reserve of Officers). In the London Gazette entry it is noted that he is late Cadet Corporal, Dover College Contingent in the Officer Training Corps. He is later promoted to Lieutenant (war subs.), but relinquishes this commission on being transferred to the Royal Air Force on 1 September 1945.

In Royal Air Force service

On 28 September 1940 he is being seconded to the Royal Air Force being granted a temporary commission as Pilot Officer (44665). On 28 September 1941 he is promoted to Flying Officer (war subs.) while still holding his position in the army. On 28 September 1942 he is further promoted to Flight Lieutenant (war subs.).

On 2 June 1944 while serving as Acting Squadron Leader of No 28 Squadron he is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He is granted the rank of Squadron Leader (war subs.) on 27 July 1945. The appointment is later made permanent and he is granted seniority from 1 September 1945. Finally, on 1 January 1953 he is appointed Wing Commander.

On 28 November 1957 he is tragically killed in an accident to the second Rolls Royce “flying bedstead” test rig (serial XK426). During an initial training flight at Hucknall, the machine struck the gantry to which it was tethered. W/C H G F Larsen had been seconded from Royal Air Force to the R.A.E. Bedford taking part in a group of pilots being instructed in VTOL techniques.

(Ancker, 2006; London Gazette; www.unithistories.com; Flight Magazine; Terry and Amrit at RAF Commands)