Jens Henning Fisker "Morian" Hansen is perhaps the most colourful of the Danish volunteers. He volunteers for the Royal Air Force as early as in 1939 before the German occupation of Denmark, and is awarded the prestigious George Medal in 1940.
Jens Henning Fisker Hansen is born on 10 January 1905 in Frederikssund, Denmark. He is the son of horse dealer Lars Christian Hansen and Rasmine Hansen.
From Mechanic to the Dirt Track
From an early age he is trained as mechanic and he is eventually employed by the Ford Motor Company. He earns the nickname Morian Hansen in this period; Morian is an old and depreciatory expression for a coloured person. As one story is told he was repairing a Ford T when carbon from the engine soiled his face. From this day on his colleagues called him “Morian.” Another story, told by him self in 1981, relates to the dirt of the dirt track.
In the 1920’s Morian Hansen is involved in motor racing – primarily motor bikes, but also racing cars. This eventually brings him abroad. In the 1930’s he moves to England with his family for a career as professional dirt track rider (later known as speedway).
Speed in the blood, he does not stick to the ground. In 1935 he receives training as pilot in the Hearts and Essex Flying Club at Broxbourne and he gets his certificate on 12 October 1935. Many of the British riders of the time take up flying in exactly this club.
Volunteers for Royal Air Force
He is in England at the time of war and he volunteers for the Royal Air Force planning to become pilot. At the age of 33 he is considered too old, but is accepted for training as aerial gunner in late 1939. Some sources states that he commences training as early as September 1939, but as he is appointed Acting Pilot Officer on probation on 30 December 1939 I find it more likely that this is the date.
He is therefore one of the first, if not the first, Dane to volunteer for and be accepted by the Royal Air Force.
No 99 (Madras Presidency) Squadron
On 4 February 1940 Morian Hansen is promoted to Pilot Officer on probation and he is posted to No 99 (Madras Presidency) Squadron at R.A.F. Station Newmarket.
He is flying his first operational sortie over Germany as aerial gunner on 14 May 1940. I have not got the operational information on the squadron, but according to Middlebrook and Everitt (1985) this probably relates to the attack on Aachen by 18 Wellingtons on the night of 14/15 May 1940.
On the night of 25/26 July 1940 ten Wellingtons of No 99 Squadron take part in a raid on Dortmund. The Wellington (P9275 LF-O “Orange”) is about to carry out the bombing run, when is surrounded by searchlights and is attacked by a Me 110 and is shot down. Four of the six-man crew manage to bail out and is captured by the Germans.
Just a few minutes later, Morian Hansen manages to shoot down the German night fighter. According to Edgerley (1993) this is the first German night fighter to be downed by a British night bomber. On 7 July 1941, he is awarded Distinguished Flying Cross for this incident.
Awarded the George Medal
On the night of the 18 December 1940 Morian Hansen is in charge of the flarepath at RAF Station Newmarket. At 2128 a Wellington (R1333 LF-B “Bertie”) fails to become probably airborne and crashed into Devil’s Dyke on the edge of Newmarket. Morian Hansen jumps into a van and drives to the scene.
He enters the burning aircraft – still loaded with bombs – and manages to bring Sgt. Cliff Hendy, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, to safety. He returns to the burning aircraft and saves another crewmember; Sgt. George Lea, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner. The four remaining crew members die in the accident; captain, F/L G S Ogilvie; co-pilot, F/O A P Pritchard; the observer, Sgt. R J Bowden; and rear gunner, Sgt. W E H Boast.
On 19 March 1941, he is the first to receive an Honorary Award of the George Medal for this incident and on 1 January 1941he is Mentioned in Despatches. While I have no citation, I suppose it is linked to the incident at Newmarket.
He is confirmed in this appointment on 30 December 1940 and further promoted to the war substantive rank of Flying Officer on 4 February 1941. In 1941 he is transferred to Flying School and is trained as pilot.
Posted to Burma
In early 1944 he is posted to the Far East as test pilot. Following three month in hospital due to dysentery he returns to England. In early 1945 he is posted to Brussels flying Douglas Dakotas.
On 5 May 1945, Morian Hansen is the first Danish volunteer the return to the newly liberated Denmark in one of the Douglas C-3 Dakotas transporting general Dewing and his men to Copenhagen.
After the war
Morian Hansen returns to Denmark in 1945 and sets up a flying school in Kastrup and later in Skovlunde. He dies in 1995.
(Bjerregaard, 2001, Edgerley, 1993, Danish newspapers, 6 May 1945; FLYV).