Veterans

Danish WW2 Pilot Revisits Biggin Hill After More Than 70 Years

The veteran's visit fell on the 76th anniversary of Denmark's Liberation Day.

A Danish fighter pilot who served in Britain during the Second World War has revisited the base where he was once stationed more than 70 years ago. 

Hans Eigel Heyman returned to London Biggin Hill Airport, formerly RAF Biggin Hill, as one of the last surviving Danish veterans to have flown in a Spitfire.

A number of Danish personnel joined the RAF during World War Two, with Biggin Hill a key base for defending Britain's skies.

As well as being a chance for Mr Heyman to relive his time there, the day of the visit also marked the anniversary of Denmark's liberation from Nazi rule - 4 May 1945.

Mr Heyman, who joined the military when he was only 16, spoke about his memories of his time at the Bromley air base.

He told Forces News: "It feels absolutely as if I was here yesterday.

"I had a marvellous time, flying every day."

In honour of his visit, the Danish flag was adorned onto a Spitfire which carried the name of the first Spitfire the people of Denmark gifted to the UK under a scheme called 'Gifts of War'. 

Spitfire Danish flag and Brigadier-General Jan K Toft DANISH DEFENCE ATTACHÉ Hans Eigel Danish Pilot WW2 at RAF Biggin Hill 70 years 04052021 CREDIT BFBS
Danish Defence Attaché Brigadier-General Jan K Toft with Hans Eigel next to Spitfire adorned with the Danish flag.

Robin Brooks, the aviation historian in charge of Biggin Hill Heritage, said: "We dressed it up to make it as good as we could for Hans.

"We think he was pleased to see an aircraft in his old colours, in this hangar."

Mr Heyman was also presented with a commemorative coin by the Danish Defence Attaché on behalf of the chief of the Royal Danish Air Force.

Brigadier General Jan K Toft told Mr Heyman he was an "inspiration" for pilots in the UK and Denmark.

He said: "I grew up with the cartoon series 'Battle of Britain'. I've read everything there is on aircraft in the UK and I've built every Airfix aeroplane model – for me this is tremendous.

"To meet Hans is also an inspiration because it's about the real values men and women need to defend them from time to time.

"He's a good example of one of those youngsters who said there is something bigger than myself that I want to defend," he added.

On being presented with the coin, Mr Heyman said he was "extremely pleased".