Danish WW2 Pilots

Sec. Off. Tove Agnete Torrens (née Hald)

(1914 - n.a. )

Tove Agnete Hald’s life must have seemed like a fairy tale in the last months of 1939; She fell madly in love with a RAF pilot, was hastily married and became Mrs. Torrens. Two years later, she was in uniform and her husband had been shot down over Berlin. He survived, and was a prisoner of war. Tove Agnete Torrens was one of the Danish WAAFs.

Tove Agnete Torrens (née Hald) was born in Vejle on 14 December 1914, the daughter of high court attorney Jens Christian Hald and Erna Hald (née Flach-Bundegaard).[1]

Shortly before the outbreak of war in September 1939, she was the bridesmaid at the wedding of an English friend. It had supposed to be a large wedding in London, but because of the war, the ceremony was conducted in private somewhere in Scotland. Apart from the couple only the bridesmaid, and the best man—the dashing Flt Lt David Clifford Torrens—attended. The two fell in love, and within a few weeks they were engaged to be married. She returned to Denmark to arrange for the move to England, but in the beginning of November 1939, she had to hasten to England in order for the couple to marry before he was mobilised. They were married on 4 November 1939 “somewhere in England”, as the newspapers reported.[2] She became a British subject by marriage at that point.

A career officer

Torrens married a career officer. David Clifford Torrens was granted a short service commission as Acting Pilot Officer as early as in April 1934 (34205),[3] and, in early 1939, he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant.[4] In September 1939, as he met his future wife, he served at 8 Flying Training School at RAF Montrose in Scotland. Montrose was also the “secret” location of the Torrens wedding.

Promoted to Squadron Leader, he was posted to 99 (Madras Presidency) Squadron as Flight Commander on 17 February 1941—only days before the Danish pilot ‘Morian’ Hansen left the squadron.[5] Torrens was an ex-fighter pilot and new to Bomber Command. He flew his first two operations—on the nights of 12/13 March and 14/15 March—as second pilot.[6] On 9 April 1941, he captained his first operation, which turned out to be for the big city Berlin. The Wellington (R3199/R) took off from RAF Waterbeach at 2000 hrs. And Torrens set course for the target. Shortly before the aiming point, the aircraft was his by flak. Torrens feathered the prop and bombed the target. On the return leg, Torrens realised that the aircraft was not able to return to base. He gave each member of the crew the choice to bail out. Two members of the crew did so, while the other four crash-landed at Wolfenbuttel, near Hannover.[7] Torrens and the rest of the crew were captured and became prisoners of war. On 30 April 1941, new were received at the squadron from International Red Cross that the crew were safe.[8]

Tove A. Torrens later recalled the awful days from the time she learned that her husband was shot down and until she learned about him being af PoW. Even then she new he was not entirely safe.[9]

Stalag Luft III and The Great Escape

David C. Torrens was imprisoned in Stalag Luft III near Sagan, where several Danish volunteers had been or were imprisoned as well: Plt Off. Jørgen Thalbitzer (RAF), Sgt Arne Bøge (RNAF), Plt Off. Frank Sorensen (RCAF), and Flt Lt Arnold Georg Christensen (RNZAF). The camp is famous for the Great Escape on 24 March 1943 in which more than seventy men escaped from Hut 104 through the tunnel ‘Harry’. On the night of the escape, sitting at a table in the corridor near Room 23, Torrens was responsible for sending each escapee down the shaft of the tunnel in the right order and to ensure quietness in the hut.[10] Fifty men, including Flt Lt Arnold George Christensen, were executed following recapture.[11]

David C. Torrens remained in Stalag Luft III and was liberated in May 1945 following the evacuation of Stalag Luft III in the winter of 1945.[12]

Women's Auxiliary Air Force

Torrens volunteered for the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force presumably in late June 1941 or early 1942 (453862).[13] That is, she seems to have volunteered following the capture of her husband.

After initial training she was posted for 10 months at a unit and with functions she would not reveal when she was interviewed by Danish newspapers in late 1945. She was promoted to corporal and posted to a RAF Station in the southern part of England with 100 WAAFs under her command.[14] Apart from that there is little information on her activities.

Torrens was commissioned as Assistant Section Officer on 27 April 1945[15] and to Section Officer six months later.[16]


[1] DNA: Parish register, Vejle, Vor Frelser Sogn.

[2] Aarhusianerinde gifter sig med en engelsk Flyver, Herning Folkeblad, 02.11.39.

[3] London Gazette, issue 34042, p. 2471, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/34042/page/2471.

[4] London Gazette, issue 34592, p. 546, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/34592/page/546.

[5] NA: AIR 27/789.

[6] Bowman, M. W. (2010). Bombs away! : dramatic first-hand accounts of British and Commonwealth bomber aircrew in WWII, p. 35.

[7] Ibid.

[8] NA: AIR 27/789.

[9] WAAF-Lieutenant og Spion-Medhjælperske, Aarhus Stiftstidende, 18.11.45.

[10] Brickhill, P. (2000). The great escape, p. 168.

[11] Read, S. (2013). Human game: the true story of the ‘great escape’ murders and the hunt for the gestapo gunmen, p. 204.

[12] WAAF-Lieutenant og Spion-Medhjælperske, Aarhus Stiftstidende, 18.11.45.

[13] NA: AIR 78/159. Torrens’ service number is part of a block of numbers (450001 to 460000) allotted for enlistment at WAAF Gloucester in June 1941. The next block of numbers (475001 to 485000) was allotted in January 1943.

[14] WAAF-Lieutenant og Spion-Medhjælperske, Aarhus Stiftstidende, 18.11.45.

[15] London Gazette, issue 37157, 3 July 1945, p. 3451, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/37157/supplement/3451.

[16] London Gazette, issue 37362, 23 November 1945, p. 5708, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/37362/supplement/5708.