Danish WW2 Pilots

T/Cpl Hans Max Bruno Thomsen

(1904 - 1978)

Hans Max Bruno Thomsen volunteers for service in the Royal Australian Air Force in 1942 as Motor Boat Crew. He suffers an accident in the fall of 1943 and is discharged in early 1945 as medically unfit for further service.

Hans Max Bruno Thomsen is born on 24 November 1904 in Copenhagen. He is the son of Hans Oluf Thomsen. I have no further information on his life in Denmark.

On 15 December 1927 he arrives in Western Australia on-board the M/S DENMARK, and he stays in Australia from then on. He earns his living as seaman and rigger. He is in Australia at the outbreak of war. [1]

Volunteers for the Royal Australian Air Force

In January 1942 he contacts the Royal Australian Air Force with the intention of joining the air force as Motor Boat Crew. This is the beginning of a rather long application process - prolonged because he sprains his ankle working as night watch on a ship in August 1942.

On 7 October 1942 he is finally requested to report to the No. 4 Recruiting Centre on 16 October 1942 for enlistment as a Motor Boat Crew in Group Three. He is appointed Aircraftman Class I on enlistment (AUS82287). [2]

Training in the RAAF Maritime Section

From 13 November 1942 to 6 December 1942 he is posted to No. 2 Bombing and Air Gunnery School in Port Pirie. From 14 December 1942 to 12 January 1943 he is attending No. 8 Motor Boat Crew Course at Marine School, RAAF Station Rathmines, New South Wales. This air station was established in 1939 by Lake Maquarie some 200 km. north of Sydney. It was the main flying boat base of the RAAF during the Second World War and the RAAF Maritime Section's main training base. [3]

RAAF Marine Section, General Purpose Launch 15-5 (later 16-08); the Sapphire
RAAF Marine Section, General Pupose Launch 15-5 (later 16-08) the “Sapphire”. Max Bruno Thomsen suffers an accident on-board this vessel on 13 October 1943. The vessel is later burnt to the water at Darwin. Source: Australian War Memorial, 134592

The Marine Section was an essential part of a Flying Boat Squadron was the supporting Marine Section. Max Bruno Thomsen is classified as Motor Boat Crew. These crews were trained in navigation, seamanship, signals, boat handling, life saving, and technicalities of whether. Apart from supporting the flying boats the crews were also responsible servicing and maintaining their own vessels. [4]

On 20 January 1943 he is posted to No. 1 Flying Boat Repair Depot, RAAF Lake Boga, Victoria. This air station was commissioned in June 1942 to provide repair and service facilities for Australian, Royal Netherlands East Indies Air Force and United States flying boats. The repair depot’s operational record book is evidence to the fact that in the beginning of 1943 the unit is a busy place, where Catalina’s arrive from RAAF especially Rathmines for overhauls. He is promoted to Leading Aircraftman on 1 May 1943. [5]

In the Front Line

The service record then suggests that Maw Bruno Thomsen moves towards the front line. On 29 May 1943 he is transferred to No. 4 Embarkation Unit in Adelaide. From here he is transferred to No. 55 Operational Base Unit at RAAF Birdum, Northern Territory, as part of the reserve pool on 21 June 1943.

On 3 July 1943 he is transferred to No. 52 Operational Base Unit, Darwin. At this point in time, the North Western areas of Australia are threatened by the Japanese forces from occupied Netherlands Dutch Indies, and areal defences in Darwin are improved. Supporting the Catalina crews are the Marine Boat Crews and among them Max Bruno Thomsen. [6]

Injured and discharged

But on 13 October 1943 he suffers an accident as member of the crew of General Purpose Launch 16-08 “Sapphire”. The operational record book laconically states: [7]

13th OCT Advance Party No. 31 Squadron arrived. “SAPPHIRE” departed for Cape Don.
14th OCT Catalina departed for base. No. 31 Squadron arrived (320 personnel) “SAPPHIRE” returned (member of crew injured).
15th OCT “SAPPHIRE” departed for Cape Don

In the service record is recorded: [8]

The injury of […] was sustained at approx. 2300 hours on 13/10/43, as the result of an accident. Airman was on duty at the time of sustaining same. Injury was attributed to air service and was not due to any pre-existing cause, but was the direct result of the blow by the winch handle. No blame is attachable to airman or any other person and there was no negligence or misconduct on part of airman or any other person. It is considered that a further four month’s hospital treatment is required and airman’s efficiency as an airman will depend on the degree of permanent disability, if any, disclosed then.

It appears that Max Bruno Thomsen was injured, but the vessel not damaged. He never returns to active duty. He is evacuated to No.7 RAAF Hospital, Adelaide, on 8 December 1943 and to No.6 RAAF Hospital, Heidelberg, on 18 December 1943. He is promoted to Temporary Corporal on 1 December 1943. On 20 March 1944 he is transferred to No. 1 Convalescent Depot, on 5 June 1944 to No. 4 Convalescent Depot (later No. 4 Medical Rehabilitation Unit), and on 14 January 1945 he is discharged as medically unfit for further service from No. 5 Personnel Depot. [9]

Max Bruno Thomsen applies for naturalization in August 1944. He receives his Certificate of Naturalization in April 1945 and is, thus, naturalized British subject at the end of the war. [10]

Thanks to Colin Bruggy for invaluable information for this profile.


  1. Service record, NAA A9301 82287
  2. Service record, NAA A9301 82287
  3. Service record, NAA A9301 82287, Jubbs, 2001, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAAF_Base_Rathmines
  4. Jubbs, 2001
  5. Service record, NAA A9301 82287, ORB 2 FBRD, NAA A9186 405, Jubbs, 2001, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Boga_Flying_Boat_Base
  6. Service record, NAA A9301 82287
  7. ORB 52 OBU, A9186 561
  8. Service record, NAA A9301 82287
  9. Service record, NAA A9301 82287
  10. Class 4 correspondence files relating to naturalization, NAA A435 1944/4/5481