Danish WW2 Pilots

Torben Edouard Hartvig

(1924 - 2009)

Torben E. Hartvig joined the Free French in his hometown of Algiers as a young man. He was arrested and narrowly escaped a death sentence before going to England in 1943 to volunteer for the Royal Air Force. He served as an air bombardier.

Torben Edouard Hartvig in Bordeaux, France, on 10 June 1924, the son of Eduard Vilhelm Robert Hartvig and Karen Hartvig (née Loehr). The parents married in Fredericia, Denmark, on 13 February 1913.[1]

Hartvig’s father, Eduard Hartvig, was employed as deputy director of the winery Turpin Frères & Riout in Bordeaux, France, from 1919 to 1928. In 1928, Eduard Hartvig became the director of the winery A. Bonneville & Compagnie in Algiers, and the family moved to Algeria. He was the Latvian consul for Algeria from 1936-1940, and after the war he became the Danish consul of Algeria.[2]

Hartvig was raised and educated in Algiers. He is known to have attended the Petit Lycée de Mustapha.[3]

Free French Movement

Hartvig was a member of the resistance in the Vichy controlled French North Africa. He was imprisoned and along with seventeen comrades condemned to death by a military tribunal of the Vichy regime on the eve of the allied invasion of French North Africa in November 1942 (Operation Torch). His execution was postponed and escaped death because of the change of the regime in Algiers following the allied advance.[4] He was awarded the Croix de Guerre for his service.[5]

Royal Air Force volunteer

Hartvig volunteered for the Royal Air Force (1897872).[6] The exact enlistment date is not known at this point, but the Air Ministry informed the Recruiting Office, Danish Nationals, that they had received an application from him via the Foreign Office in late March 1943.[7]

Hartvig was trained as air bombardier. He is known to have been trained at 2 Initial Training Wing in Cambridge and, in May 1944, he was attached to 6 Elementary Flying Training School at RAF Sywell. He carried out forty-two sorties over Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Italy.[8]

After the war he returned to Denmark, where he worked in shipping before joining SABENA, the Belgian air lines, as director of their Danish office.[9]


[1] DNA: Borgerlige vielser, Fredericia.

[2] Kamp, A. (1956). Danske i Udlandet, p. 214.

[3] Les distributions de Prix, La Dépêche Algérienne, 3 July 1937, p. 5.

[4] Deres værste øjeblikke. Fyens Stiftstidende, 21 June 1965, p. 3.

[5] Fra Algier til Danmarks kulde, Berlingske Aftenavis, 11 February 1963, p. 12.

[6] NA: AIR 78/72.

[7] DNA: 10194/72 - Danske Råd i London, Rekrutteringskontoret, 1941-1943 Korrespondance med engelske m.fl. myndigheder.

[8] Ud med faldskærm, Søndags Aktuelt, dato ukendt.

[9] Jubilæer, Berlingske Tidende, 29 March 1989, p. 15.