Kjeld Rønhof is one of many Danish sailors who join the allied forces during the Second World War. He volunteers for the Royal Norwegian Air Forces in camp “Little Norway” in Canada and is trained as pilot. He is posted to No. 332 (Norwegian) Squadron in mid-July 1942 and ends operational duties in No. 19 Squadron on Mustangs in April 1945. His own story was published as early as in 1945.
Kjeld Rønhof is born on 12 May 1920 in Bromme, Denmark. From early in his life he dreams of becoming a pilot. He is educated at Sorø Akademi, a well-known Danish boarding school, but leaves school before graduating. He joins the Danish East Asia Company with the intention to train as ship’s mate initially and then return to Denmark to join the Danish Naval Air Service.
In the following years he travels the great seas for the Danish East Asia Company. According to the U.S. Immigration Records, on 17 October 1938 he arrives from Vancouver, British Columbia to Seattle, Washington, on-board M/S AMERIKA.
According to his memoirs, he is on-board M/S KINA II in Skagerrak bound for United States on 9 April 1940; the day of the German occupation of Denmark. The U.S. Immigration Records testify that Kjeld Rønhof arrives in New York on 5 July 1940 from Belfast, Northern Ireland. According to this record he had signed on in Greenock on 31 May 1940.
Volunteers for the Royal Norwegian Air Forces
Kjeld Rønhof eventually signs off in Baltimore in order to join the Royal Norwegian Air Forces in camp Little Norway in Toronto, Canada. On 12 May 1941 he is accepted for pilot’s training at Flyvåpenes Treningsleir, F.T.L. (the Air Forces Training Camp) on Central Island, Toronto.
Part of the training takes place in Emsdale. Kjeld Rønhof makes the transfer flying in Fairchild Cornell (141 ‘El Gaucho’). They later return to Toronto.
On 31 August 1941, Kjeld Rønhof is posted to No. 32 Service Flying Training School, Moose Jaw, to continue training as fighter pilot on North American T-6 Harvard. Ending training at this school he receives his pilot wings.
Kjeld Rønhof continues advanced training at Central Island Airport, Toronto, initially on Douglas 8A-5 dive bombers then converting to Curtiss P-36 fighters. The last part of the Canadian training takes place from 10 February 1942.
Transferred to England
Kjeld Rønhof is then transferred to England to finish pilot’s training. He is posted to No. 5 Advanced Flying Unit, Ternhill, from 26 April to 3 May 1942. Following this he is transferred to No. 58 Operational Training Unit.
On 11 May 1942, Kjeld Rønhof flies solo on Spitfire for the first time; a Spitfire Mk. I (QM-P). On 7 July 1942, after about 60 hours on Spitfire Mk. I and Mk. II, he is operational on Spitfire. He is posted to No. 332 (Norwegian) Squadron at North Weald.
No. 332 (Norwegian) Squadron
On 23 July 1942 Kjeld Rønhof is on his first operational mission. According to his memoirs (Rønhof, 1997) he makes up a section with Norwegian pilot Marius Eriksen, but the squadron’s Operational Record Book suggests that it is actually an uneventful convoy patrol with 2nd Lieutenant H. Ringdal.
Kjeld Rønhof is posted at this squadron for the larger part of the war carrying out a large number of operational missions.
He is redrawn from active duty for some time to be posted at No. 53 Operational Training Unit as instructor. He returns to No. 332 (Norwegian) Squadron.
On 7 October 1944 his aircraft is hit during a dive bombing attack on a vessel at Rotterdam. He manages to return to Grimbergen in Belgium and is hospitalised in Bruxelles. The incident is not mentioned in the squadron Operational Record Book that states the following:
The Squadron took off at 13.45 hrs. on bombing, led by Major Ryg. Task was DD 222, 60+ barges at E. 1956. No e/a seen. 12 x 500 LBS 025 dropped 9.000/2.000 ft. 2 direct hits on 2 barges at E. 1257. 1 direct hit 2 N/M on pontoon in T/A. 1 N/M on barge – 1 hang-up. 3 bombs did not explode. Information: - Concentration of 25 sty. Barges river E. 2454. Slight inacc. And heavy flak occurred over target. At 1445 hrs. the Squadron returned to base. Weather was clear, vis. good.
On 30 October 1944 he is transported to Blackpool, England. He returns to flying duties in December 1944, but is not fully operational for some time.
In February 1945 he is declared fully operational and is posted to No. 19 Squadron, Peterhead, Scotland. This squadron is equipped with Mustangs at this point. He carries out his last operational mission of the war on 3 May 1945 in Mustang (KH867) attacking German shipping in Danish waters.
After the Libaration
Kjeld Rønhof is attached to the Danish Naval Air Service after the war and serves in the Office of Air Force Affairs in 1945. In 1949 he leaves the Naval Air Service and is hired by the Scandinavian Airlines System as commercial pilot.
(Ancker, 2001; Rønhof, 1996; AIR 27/1729)