Danish WW2 Pilots

Cpl Magda Marie Andersen

(1913 - 1999)

Magda Marie Andersen was one of the Danish women serving in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force during the war. She served at Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Hospital, Halton, and later transferred to Norwegian service.

Magda Marie Andersen was born on 5 August 1913 in Frederiksberg, the daughter of Hans Andersen and Else Magdalene Andersen (née Johansen).[1] Her father was the manager of the waterworks in Horsens.

In September 1933, Andersen moved from Horsens to Odense and lived here until December 1936 with the exception of a brief period in Copenhagen in 1934. Her address in both Horsens and Odense correspond with that of the local hospital and it is presumed that she was trained as a nurse.[2]

At some point in the late 1930s, Andersen moved to England. In September 1939, when the war broke out, she worked as a housemaid in the house of the director and export manager of Sandeman’s Port in Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Another Danish women, Karen Andersen, served in the house alongside her; the two became lifelong friends.

Princess Mary's RAF Nursing Service

They enlisted in the WAAF at the recruiting centre in Gloucester in June 1941.[3] Few details are available on their service, but in late 1942, they were attached to the Princess Mary’s RAF Hospital, Halton,[4] where she served as a dietitian. This hospital had been established in 1927, when it was clear that the air forces needed a large and modern hospital. The hospital expanded significantly after the outbreak of war, and in 1945 more than 11,000 patients were treated at the hospital. Women who served as nurses in the RAF were attached to Halton.[5]

She served in the WAAF until January 1944, when she transferred to Norwegian service. She enlisted in Norsk Kvinde Korps (Norwegian A.T.S.), where she served as a chef until her discharge in October 1945.[6] It is likely that Karen Andersen inspired her to transfer. She had married a Norwegian serviceman in 1943 and transferred to Norwegian service as well.[7]

Another Dane to Little Norway

Andersen returned to Denmark in June 1946, but in March 1947 she emigrated to the United States.[8]

In 1948, she was employed by Doherty Air Services Limited in Gravenhurst, Ontario, in Canada. This company had taken over the former “Camp Little Norway”, which had been a training facility for the Norwegian Air Force in exile during the war and planned to set up a training school, a repair depot and air charter service in conjunction with which there was hotel accommodation, a dining room, snack bar etc.

Her future husband, Per Kaare Nilsen was employed by the company as well. He had served in Little Norway during the war.[9] They married and settled in Canada.


[1] DNA: Parish register, Mariendals Sogn.

[2] Letter from the Odense city archive to author with information on the address of Magda Marie Andersen (1933-1947).

[3] Frihedsmuseet, 15B-26 and correspondence with the Holst-Try family. Their service numbers are part of a block of numbers allotted to the recruiting centre in Gloucester in February 1941.

[4] DNA: 10194.

[5] Rexford-Welch, S. L. S. C. (1954). The Royal Air Force Medical Services, Vol. I, Administration.

[6] Ancestry: Canada, Immigrants Approved in Orders in Council, 1929-1960.

[7] Correspondence with the Holst-Try family.

[8] Ancestry: New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957.

[9] Ancestry: Canada, Immigrants Approved in Orders in Council, 1929-1960.