Danish WW2 Pilots

Sjt Svend Frederik Clement

(1917 - 1999)

Svend Frederik Clement left the merchant navy in 1941 and volunteered for the Norwegian Air Forces in Canada. He served in Little Norway in Toronto and later in Muskoka as the Norwegian training camp moved later in the war.

Svend Frederik Clement was born on 7 May 1917 in Copenhagen, to office messenger Gorm Clement and men’s taylor Henriette Louise Nielsine Clement (née Klyver).[1] His parents had married on the Danish Seamen’s Church in Newcastle in 1909.[2] Clement’s father died in 1927[3] and, the following year, he was enrolled in school at Det kongelige Opforstingshus, a boarding school in Copenhagen for children of single parents of tight means.[4] Leaving the school in 1932, Clement was employed as an apprentice waiter at the then renowned Copenhagen restaurant Wivex.[5]

Steward on-board SS Europa

Clement was engaged as a steward on-board the SS Europa of the Danish East Asia Company for the first time in September 1938.[6] He was part of the crew as well, when Europa left Copenhagen for Vancouver shortly after the outbreak of war in September 1939 and returned to Copenhagen in December 1939. As the Gdynia America Line had stopped service because of the war, the East Asia Line expected an increased demand of passenger transport between Scandinavia and New York. Therefore, it was decided to dock in New York both outbound and on the return journey.

SS Europa in the harbour of Copenhagen before the war. Five men, who later volunteered for the Norwegian Air Forces in Canada worked on-board at the outbreak of war (MfS).
SS Europa in the harbour of Copenhagen before the war. Five men, who later volunteered for the Norwegian Air Forces in Canada worked on-board at the outbreak of war (MfS).

Europa left Denmark for the last time on 19 January 1940 and began the return journey from Vancouver to Copenhagen in the beginning of March 1940. The vessel left Puerto Cabello in Venezuela on 5 April 1940 and learned about the German invasion of Denmark on its way to New York, where it arrived on 11 April 1940. From New York Europa proceeded to Halifax where it was taken over by the Canadian authorities.[7]

Among the crew on this journey were five seamen who would later join the Royal Norwegian Air Forces in Canada: chief steward Arne Nicolajsen, stewards Anker Grønning Jensen, Tage Friis Christensen and Clement, and finally sculler Ib Anders Hedegaard Schou.[8]

Europa made seven Atlantic crossings between Halifax and Liverpool during 1940.[9] On 20 December 1940, as Europa was ready to leave Liverpool the vessel was hit and damaged below the water line during a German air attack during the so-called Christmas Blitz. Europa avoided further hits during attacks the following two nights and attempts were maid to raise the ship which was resting on the bottom. It was damaged again on 12 March, but she she was raised from the bottom and maneuvered into the Brockleback graving dock for repairs. However, on the night of 3/4 May 1941, Luftwaffe carried out one of the heaviest attacks on Liverpool during the war. The attack was part of the so-called May Blitz of Liverpool. Europa received a direct hit from a fragmentation bomb as well as a number of incendiaries. She was damaged being repair and beached in the River Mersey to be scrapped.[10]

It is presumed that Clement as still a member of the crew at this point, but it has not yet been documented. Arne Nicolajsen is known to have been on-board at this point in time, and the five members, who later volunteered in Canada volunteered within a few weeks of each other and Clement and Anker Grønning Jensen on the same day.

Waiter, Clerk, and Instructor in Little Norway

Clement enlisted as a Private (N.1548) in the Royal Norwegian Air Force at camp Little Norway in Toronto on 20 June 1941.[11] He was mustered as waiter, initially, but later he worked as an office clerk and at the switch board.[12]

In February 1942, he was proposed for promotion to Corporal. He was described as follows:

Clement is a fast, skilled and very reliable man. Following the new arrangement with the offices, he will be able to work more independently, and it is recommended that he be given a promotion.[13]

A year later, as he was about to take charge of the oil and gas service at Muskoka airfield, he was promoted to Sergeant. The position was a sergeant’s job and he was well qualified for it, the application states.[14]

Clement later became an instructor at the Elementary Training School in Muskoka. It is not clear exactly at what point he resumed this position, but it was no later than from January 1944. He remained in the position until the end of the war.[15]

Clement returned to Denmark in November 1945 after nearly six years in exile. He was joined by his Canadian born wife in April 1946. They settled in Copenhagen.[16] He joined the Danish Naval Air Service as quartermaster (Intendantur-Kvartermester af 3. Grad) on 1 September 1946.

The family returned to Canada following the birth of a daughter in 1947. Clement lived in Canada for the rest of his life. He died in 1999.[17]


[1] DNA: Parish register, Skt Markus sogn.

[2] DNA: Parish register, Newcastle.

[3] DNA: Parish register, Skt Markus sogn.

[4] Engelhardt, Juliane: Det Kongelige Opfostringshus, Den Store Danske, https://denstoredanske.lex.dk/Det_Kongelige_Opfostringshus (accessed on 5 May 2023).

[5] Copenhagen Municipal Archive: School records, Det kongelige Opfostringshus, Elevprotokoller 1915-1930, Opslag 38 Skoleprotokol.

[6] Ancestry: Washington, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1882-1965.

[7] NA: BT 389/12/216.

[8] Ancestry: Washington, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1882-1965.

[9] Arnold Hague Ports Database, http://www.convoyweb.org.uk (accessed on 5 May 2023). The convoys were: HX.38 (Halifax - Liverpool), OB.162 (Liverpool - Dispersed), HX.56 (Halifax - Liverpool), OB.195 (Liverpool - Dispersed), HX.70 (Halifax - Liverpool). OB.227 (Liverpool - Dispersed), and HX.87 (Halifax - Liverpool).

[10] MS Europa, Færgejournalen, http://www.faergejournalen.dk/handelsskibe/eac_lines/europa_1931.htm (accessed on 5 May 1945).

[11] Service index card.

[12] NNA: Forsvaret, Flyvåpnenes treningsleir 1940-1945, V/L0045.

[13] Ibid. Translated by the author.

[14] Ibid.

[15] NNA: Forsvaret, Flyvåpnenes treningsleir 1940-1945, V/L0038: Ekspedisjonskontoret. 8. Personellkontoret, 1940-1945.

[16] Ancestry: Canada, Immigrants Approved in Orders in Council, 1929-1960.

[17] Ancestry: Family Tree.