IN WINTER WAR 1939 - 1940


Danish volunteer Lt. Erhard Frijs Lt. Count Erhard Frijs, one of the competent Danish volunteer fighter pilots, seen here in the cabin of his Fokker D.XXI. On 19.2.1940 Lt. Frijs shot down a Soviet SB bomber (non-confirmed) in Karelian Isthmus after a pursuit during which he lost contact to others. He was killed in action when patrolling Soviet fighters surprised his lone plane after that.
(Photo: Harri Anttonen)



Training Units

During the Winter War foreign flying personnel (except the Swedes in their own unit F19) were gathered into Supplement Flying Regiment 2 (Täydennyslentorykmentti 2, T-LentoR 2). Pilots' skills were tested and needed training was given in its Supplement Flying Squadron 29 (Täydennyslentolaivue 29, T-LLv.29) at Parola. At the beginning of February 1940 T-LLv.29 was divided into I and II Supplement Flying Squadron (of T-lentoR 2) at Parola and Tyrväntö. MG gunners and observers were trained in Training Squadron / Supplement Flying Regiment 1 (Koulutuslaivue / Täydennyslentorykmentti 1 [T-LentoR 1]) at Karvia. Supplement regiments were subordinated to flying regiments with the same number.

During the Winter War a total of 41 volunteer foreign fighter pilots were in T-LentoR 2 but only 19 of them really flew in combat units. About a half of them were Danish.

All Kinds of Volunteers

Most volunteer pilots had no combat experience although a few experienced ones had been in Spanish Civil War or in Abyssinia or even flown during WW I. Fighting spirit varied but was usually good and many volunteers were killed in action or in aerial or land accidents because planes were unknown and conditions usually hard in winter 1940. We have to remember that taking off from and landing to a typically very small Finnish airfield covered with ice and snow was a demanding task even for a very experienced pilot.

It is also worth mentioning that among the real volunteers there were also so called "pilots" or "aviators" who were not willing to fly, were afraid of flying, hadn't flown for a long time or just could not fly properly. Also international adventurers like the "legendary" British-American "Pioneer Negro Aviator and Colonel" (Captain in Finland) Hubert Fauntleroy Julian alias "Black Hawk" and Spanish Col. (Colonel also in Finland) Nicolas Beres alias Alfonso Reyes found their ways to Finland.

They were sent away as soon as their real personality and behaviour was known better. "Col." Beres for example was sent abroads using some pretext already at the end of February 1940 but "Capt." Julian stayed in Finland as long as until June 1940. Their Finnish military ranks were later cancelled although Julian refused to hand over his FAF uniform. It was later tried even in New York harbour when he returned back to States. Finnish State paid later all of their unpaid bills! (For more information on "Colonel" Julian read John P. Nugent's book "The Black Eagle", Stein and Day, N.Y. 1971.)

One rather famous fellow in Finland was a RAF Volunteer Reserve pilot Prince Emanuel Galitzine (born in 1918 in England, according to certain sources in St. Petersburg which is unlikely). He came to Finland using assumed name Edward M. Graham and even flew in Flying Squadron 32 as 2nd Lieutenant after the Winter War. His contract in Finland ended by the end of 1940 and he travelled back to England to re-join RAF. Later on 12.9.1942 he as a high altitude Spitfire Mk. IX pilot attacked a german Junkers Ju 86R long-range high-altitude reconnaissance-bomber at 13.000 metres. This is known one of the highest level aerial battles during the WW II.

Volunteer Technical Personnel

Technical personnel was usually directed straight to flying units althought their quality and experience varied too. Experienced Italian FIAT's mechanics commanded by Capt.(Eng.) Luigi Pelli made excellent work keeping new troublesome FIAT G.50 fighters in the air during the last days of the Winter War. Pelli even studied Finnish language during his leisure time thus trying to improve communication between Finnish and Italian mechanics! Official Italian representative in Finland was Lt.Col. Giuseppe Casero.

Also numerous Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and French mechanics and engineers worked in Finland. The "results" of the young British and unwilling mechanics of Polish aviation company LOT were not worth mentioning here.

The following lists have been gathered from several sources but the most important one is Eino Ritaranta's article "Volunteers Up to the Trouble" in Finnish Aviation History Magazine (Suomen ilmailuhistoriallinen lehti, SIL), vol. 1/1996 and book "From Parola to Pyhäniemi" (2002) by Ahti Saarinen (based on Col. K. W. Janarmo's and Eino Ritaranta's research). Information on Swedish pilots of F19 was also cross-checked from Greger Falk's book "The Chronicles of F19" (1987). Numbers, ranks and names have not been confirmed and no official records are available. There are mistakes for sure and the appearance of names may also vary depending on the source.

Any further info on volunteer pilots and mechanics in Finland is still appreciated!


Swedish Volunteers

The only whole foreign flying unit in Finland during the Winter War was Flying Regiment 19 (Lentorykmentti 19, LentoR 19) - also known as F19 - formed in Sweden by Swedish volunteers. F19 was part of the Volunteer Swedish Group (SFK) and equipped in Sweden before arriving in Finland. F19 was activated gradually at the beginning of January 1940 and operated in Northern Finland. Despite of their obsolete planes they scored several kills and proved their high skills.

Additionally there were lots of volunteer Swedes in Finnish units. The known pilots are listed in the table below. There were also MG gunners, navigators and observers. The known ones were as follows:

- MG gunner (?) Göran Axell - T-LentoR 1, LLv.10 / LentoR 1
Observer 2Lt. Hans Leuhusen - T-LentoR 1, LentoR 4
Observer (?) Knut Sparre - T-LentoR 1, LLv.10 / LentoR 1
Navigator Sgt Torolf von Wachenfeld - T-LentoR 1, LentoR 4

Swedish Pilots in Finnish Units

Rank Name Regiment or Squadron
2Lt. Sven Bergendahl T-LentoR 2 (LentoR 3 **)
2Lt. Kurt Björkvall (Björkwall ?) LentoR 4
2Lt.(Res.) Gert Greger T-LentoR 2, LLv.22 / 32 (LentoR 2 / 3 **)
2Lt. Bengt Heijl T-LentoR 2, (LentoR 3 **)
? Per-Gunnar Jering T-LentoR 2
? Gunnar Löwegren T-LentoR 2, LLv.22 / 32 (LentoR 2 / 3 **)
Cadet ?. Martin T-LentoR 2
Cadet ?. Palme T-LentoR 2, (LentoR 3 **)
Lt. (Count) Carl-Gustaf von Rosen * LentoR 4
2Lt. Håkan Sundberg Air Fighting School (ISK), (LentoR 2 / 3 **)
Pilots who flew in front squadrons during the Winter War with bold text.

* Count Eric von Rosen had flown the very first FAF airplane donated from Sweden to Finland in March 1918. In 1940 his son Carl-Gustaf von Rosen flew a donated converted Douglas DC-2 "bomber" to Finland and on 1.3.1940 also carried out one bombing mission against Soviet airfield (crew: Finnish co-pilot Skorpa [?], Norwegian volunteer mechanic/MG gunner Arvid Christiansen and Finnish observer R. Winqvist). The plane was later named as "Hanssin-Jukka" and used only as transportation and passenger plane. C.-G. von Rosen also obtained two Koolhoven FK.52 reconnaisance planes to FAF. Nowadays one Finnish fighter aircraft is named as "Kreivi von Rosen" [Count von Rosen] to honour the memory of both von Rosens.

** LentoR 3 was formed after the Winter War from T-LentoR 2.


Danish Volunteers

Finland received especially many volunteer fighter pilots from Denmark. The first ones came as early as in December 1939 but most arrived during the end of January and February 1940 and were ordered to Flying Squadron 24 (Fokker D.XXI), 26 (Gloster Gladiator II, later FIAT G.50) or 28 (Morane-Saulnier M.S.406).

Then 45 year old Lt. Knud von Clauson-Kaas was the oldest Danish pilot in Finland. He had been in Finland already during and after the Finnish Civil War in spring and summer 1918 as Commander of Aviation Station II of Karelian Front at Antrea. Lt. Mogens Fensboe was 31 years old while the majority were between 25 and 30 years of age. Of all Danish front pilots Lt. Povl Christensen was the youngest, 23 years old. Lt. Knut Kalmberg was born in Vladivostok, Russian Siberia.

At least the following Danish volunteer pilots (in alphabetical order) were in Finland during Winter War (pilots in front squadrons with bold text):

Rank Name Rgt or Flt/Sqn Fate, Notes Confirmed Kills
Cornet Harald Blom ISK, LentoR 2 Air Fighting School. .
Lt. Povl B. Christensen T-LentoR 2,
Wounded on 29.2.1940. 19.2.1940 1/2 I-153
Lt. Knud von Clauson-Kaas T-LentoR 2,
. .
Cornet Frits Drescher ISK, LentoR 4 Air Fighting School. .
Lt. Hans Fenger ** T-LentoR 2 Got killed on 17.2.1940. .
Lt. Mogens F. Fensboe T-LentoR 2,
. 9.3.1940 I-153
Lt. (Count) Erhard K. J. Frijs T-LentoR 2,
KIA on 19.2.1940. 30.1.1940 1/3 SB *
17.2.1940 SB
19.2.1940 SB +
Lt. Adolf Jessen T-LentoR 2 . .
Lt. C. Knut Kalmberg T-LentoR 2,
KIA on 13.2.1940. 2.2.1940 SB
12.2.1940 SB
Lt. C. Mogens H. Kristensen
(Carl M. H. Kristensen)
T-LentoR 2,
KIA on 29.2.1940. 26.2.1940 I-16
Cpl (Res.) Petter A. Pettersen ISK Air Fighting School.
Training was stopped.
Lt. Frits Rasmussen T-LentoR 2,
KIA on 2.2.1940 (parachute
caught to FR's rudder).
Lt. Einar Thorup T-LentoR 2,
LLv.22 / 32
Pilot Instructor. .
Lt. Jörn J. Ulrich T-LentoR 2,
Wounded on 13.2.1940. 2.2.1940 DB-3
13.2.1940 2x SB
Lt. Henry M. Wittrup T-LentoR 2,
LLv.22 / 32
. .
Notes: ** Information is based
on Col. Procope's files
SA T6571/3 kindly
provided by Mr. J. Mattila.
. . * or 1/2 SB ?
+ = non-confirmed


Other Volunteer Pilots

One of the most competent volunteer pilots in Finland was a very experienced Italian Staff Sergeant Diego Manzocchi who was killed in his wounds after forced landing. A bullet had gone through his chest in aerial battle but he still tried to fly his valuable plane back to a temporary ice airfield of LLv.26 at Haukkajärvi near Utti airbase. Probably because of the weakness caused by bleeding blood he got lost and forced landed landing gears down on the ice of a frozen lake west from Utti airbase with the last drops of fuel. His plane turned upside down in deep flush which also packed into the open cabin of FIAT G.50. Manzocchi couldn't release himself away from the belts but was still alive when the rescue patrol found him six hours later. He had already hung too long time upside down and died soon afterwards. Diego Manzocchi was buried in Helsinki, Finland at Hietaniemi military cemetery.

Hungarian volunteer pilot Lt.(Res.) Mátyás Pirity (1911 - 2003) is known on a non-confirmed kill in Finland. He attacked a Soviet SB bomber with his FIAT G.50 over Hollola in March 1940 and damaged it seriously. No-one in this mixed group of pilots is known of claiming confirmed aerial victories in Finland. Like the column "Incidents / Fate" shows some of the volunteers really made more damage than helped us.

There were also other supposed pilots in Finland not mentioned in the following list. Brian Bridgeman in his book "The Flyers" (1989) mentions the following names: Australian Cpl. E. H. Brown, Irish Peter M. Farragut and British Barrington, D. N. Dalton, Raymond Dixon, Lt. M. P. E. Harrison, Capt. A. S. Lace and Lt. M. H. Wellmon. Book "The Canaries" by Justin Brooke mentions additionally Canadians Hall, WO J. S. Walker and British Sgt M. R. Butt and Sgt McKay. They are although not mentioned in any Finnish records.

At least the following volunteer pilots were in Finland (the list is not complete) during Winter war (pilots in front squadrons with bold text):

Rank Name (name
used in Finland)
Nationality Rgt or
Incidents / Fate
S.Sgt Diego Manzocchi Italian T-LentoR 2,
Wounded in aerial combat and died after forced
landing on 11.3.40 with FIAT G.50 (FA-22).
2Lt.(Res.) Vilmos Békássy *
(Wilhelm Bekassy)
Hungarian T-LentoR 2,
Air Defence Staff. On 8.2.40 missed in a very
bad weather during transit flight from Sweden
with FIAT G.50 (FA-7).
Lt.(Res.) Mátyás Pirity *
(Mathias Pirithy[i])
Hungarian T-LentoR 2,
On 15.2.40 forced landed FIAT G.50 (FA-3) at
Haukkajärvi (ice airfield); probably ran out of fuel.
Lt. Luis P. Magirena
(Maginera ?)
Spanish T-LentoR 2,
LLv.22 / 32
Didn't fly after first flight during which missed.
Was moved to other duties. Led armoured
platoon (Ps.P) in the summer 1941. Wounded:
accidentally shot himself with his own pistol.
Sgt John W. Jenkins Canadian T-LentoR 2,
LLv.22 / 32
Lt.(Res.) John C. McMaster Canadian T-LentoR 2,
1./LLv.22 / 32
On 9.3.40 upset BW-353 during landing at Hollola.
Capt. Edward Waller Canadian T-LentoR 4,
Lt. Felix Pecho Polish T-LentoR 4 .
Lt. Bruno Thellung Swiss T-LentoR 2,
Capt. David Bondurant American T-LentoR 4 Taxeed BL to snowdrift during the first
take-off attempt; plane was damaged.
Sgt Frank Clevenger American T-LentoR 2 .
Lt. Charles J. Doran American T-LentoR 4 BL was damaged during the first take-off
attempt; landing gears were taken up too early.
Lt. Francis McEachen American T-LentoR 2,
LLv.22 / 32
Cpl (Res.) Donald K. Willis American ISK Air Fighting School. Training was cancelled.
2Lt. Georg T. Croisiau Belgian T-LentoR 2 .
WO Emil G. Touissant Belgian T-LentoR 2 .
? R. W. Aitken-Quack British T-LentoR 2 .
2Lt. Kenneth Armstrong British T-LentoR 2 .
2Lt.(Res.) Emanuel Galitzine
(Edward M. Graham)
T-LentoR 2 Served in FAF (LLv.32) after Winter War
between 2.4. - 31.12.1940.
Lt. Olav Ullestad Norwegian ISK Air Fighting School. Training was cancelled.
(Res.) = known reserve pilot
* Correct spelling of names kindly confirmed by Mr. Csaba Becze, Hungary.

Volunteer and Professional Test Pilots in Sweden

At least these very experienced pilots flew and tested planes for Finland sent from France, Italy and USA during the winter and spring 1940 (military rank in 1940):
Rank Name Nationality Notes
Capt. Etienne French Morane-Saulnier factory test pilot at Bulltofta, Sweden.
After the Winter War worked also for
State Aviation Factory (VL) in Finland.
Capt. Henri Sabary French Morane-Saulnier test pilot at Bulltofta, Sweden.
Lt. Carlo Cugnasca Italian FIAT test pilot at Trollhättan, Sweden. Flew FA-34
to Finland on 10.3.1940.
(Lt.) Robert A. Winston American Brewster factory test pilot at Trollhättan, Sweden,
wrote a book on his work as Brewster test pilot and
his later succesful military career (fighter ace).
Flew BW-351 to Finland on 21.3.1940.
Private /
Eero M. Davidson American-Finnish Experienced civilian pilot and mechanic. Liaison flights
in Sweden and Finland. Also test pilot at Trollhättan,
Sweden. Flew LY-117 to Finland on 21.3.1940.


, Håkan's aviation page by Håkan Gustavsson

Special thanks to mr. J. Mattila and mr. Czaba Becze for additional information.

© 2000 - 18.10.2004 Harri Anttonen

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