Danish WW2 Pilots

ACW1 Anita Nydam (m. Barber)

(1907 - 1945)

ACW1 Anita Nydam was born in Copenhagen but emigrated to Australia at an early age. She enrolled in the Women's Australian Auxiliary Air Force in Juli 1942 and served as cook and later clerk signals until October 1944.

Anita Nydam was born on 29 January 1907 in Copenhagen, the daughter of Niels Osvald Hansen Nydam and Sophie Louise Nydam (née Vitz).[1] Nydam’s mother was German by birth and her parents had married in Vejle, Denmark, on 28 November 1901.[2]

Emigrating to Australia - and the USA

The family emigrated to Australia in arriving in Sydney on 1 July 1909 onboard SS Orontes.[3] The following years the family seems to have lived in New South Wales in areas that are today suburbs of Sydney.[4]

In 1916, the family left Australia for the United States. They arrived in Vancouver, BC, in Canada on 4 May 1916 onboard the SS Nicaragia, destined for Los Angeles, California. Nydam’s father had been in the United States the year before for six days.[5] The family lived in Petaluma, Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, according to the records earning a living as farmers.[6] Later, from 28 December 1917 to 11 March 1918, Niels Nydam worked as installations finisher at the Sacramento Shops of the Southern Pacific Railroad.[7]

The family returned to Australia, presumably in 1918, and settled in the Brisbane area, before settling in Moggill, Kenmore (today a suburb of Brisbane).[8] Disaster struck in September 1925 when the family lost everything, when a fire destroyed the family house.[9] The family remained in the Brisbane area, but the electory rolls in the 1930s indicate that Niels Nydam returned to his craft as a car builder rather than earning a living as a farmer.[10]

Anita Nydam was employed as a cook at the Canungra Hospital south of Brisbane, it is presumed, from the opening of the hospital in October 1937. She had previous experiences as a cook, when she joined the hospital.[11] Sophia Nydam, her mother, died on 27 December 1937 at the hospital. Five years later, closure threatened the hospital, and perhaps this led to Nydam’s enlistment in the Womens’ Australian Auxiliary Air Force (WAAAF) in mid-1942.

Aircraftwoman in the WAAAF

Nydam enrolled in the WAAAF at 3 Recruitment Centre in Brisbane in 29 July 1942. She was mustered as cook with the rank of Aircraftwoman Class I at enrollment. She was posted to 1 WAAAF Training Depot then at St. Catherine's School, Toorak, Victoria, for further training. She passed No. 113 Recruit Drill Course from 10 to 28 August 1942.

At enrollment, Nydam had informed that she was attending training in morse code and preferred wireless work to cooking, once proficient. On 15 November 1942, she was posted to 1 Signals School at RAAF Station Point Cook and, on 13 December 1942, she was remustered to clerk signals. Four days later, on 17 December 1942, she was posted to 1 Bombing and Gunnery School, Evans Head, NSW.

On 24 March 1943, Nydam was posted to 3 Embarkation Depot, Sandgate, Brisbane, QLD, for operational service. She was taken on strength at 1 Reserve Personnel Pool, RAAF Aitkenvale, on 3 April 1943 and posted to 12 Signals Unit, Townsville, two days later. She returned to 3 Embarkation Depot on 31 May 1943 and was posted to Brisbane Wireless Telegraphy Station on 18 June 1943. She remained at this unit until September 1944, only disturbed by her being admitted to the hospital for about a week in February 1944.[12]

The first months of 1944 were challenging for Nydam. Her brother, Eric George Nydam was sentenced 12 months in prison in May 1944 for an assault in December 1943.[13] Nydam’s father committed suicide in January 1944. He blew himself up with high explosives in an air raid shelter at the Diamantina Hospital where he had been a patient since March 1943.[14]

On a positive note, she was married to Herbert Albert Barber at the Albert Street Methodist Church on 1 June 1944 and, thus, became ACW1 Barber. Barber was a private in the Australian Imperial Force. Friends from both services formed a guard of honour.[15]

Discharge and death

ACW1 Barber was transferred to 3 Personnel Depot, Sandgate, on 25 September 1944 awaiting discharge. She was discharged on compassionate grounds on with effect on 13 October 1944.[16]

Anita Barber died of reasons that are not disclosed in the documents available on 4 March 1945.[17]


[1] DNA: Parish register, Sundby Sogn.

[2] DNA: Parish register, Vejle Sogn.

[3] NAA: K269, 1 JUL 1909 ORONTES.

[4] Ancestry: Sands Directories: Sydney and New South Wales, Australia, 1858-1933; Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980.

[5] Ancestry: Canada, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1865-1935.

[6] Ancestry: U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.

[7] Ancestry: California, U.S., Railroad Employment Records, 1862-1950.

[8] Ancestry: Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980.

[9] Moggill Fire, Queensland Times, 29 January 1926, p. 4.

[10] Ancestry: Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980.

[11] NAA: A9301, 100583.

[12] NAA: A9301, 100583.

[13] 12 months’ gaol for Redbank assault, Queensland Times,13 May 1944, p. 3.

[14] Suicide in air raid shelter, Army News, 6 January 1944, p. 2.

[15] Service-Wedding, Courier-Mail, 2 June 1944, p. 4.

[16] NAA: A9301, 100583.

[17] Ancestry: Australia, Death Index, 1787-1985.