Jens Henning Gielstrup (1917 - 1943)

Jens Gielstrup (1917-1943) was one of Denmarks most promising young novel writers when World War II broke out. In 1939 he had his first novel "Kisses left and right" published which was later turned in a film with leading Danish actors after the war. In late 1939 his second novel "The Good Heart" was published before he travelled to London as correspondent for one of the leading Danish news papers Politiken. When Denmark was invaded in April 1940 he stranded in England and volunteered for the R.A.F. He proved a prolific pilot during training and became a Spitfire pilot for squadron 611, but after only a month of active service he was shot down.

He flew the P8088 during his training at No. 61 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Rednal and describes the crash he had on May 19th 1943 in letter. The engine stopped in mid-air and he managed only by luck to reach the air strip but lost control in the end and the air craft spun into the ground. He escaped without injury but later wrote he thought he would die when the sound of the Spitfire suddenly stopped while flying.


Stacks Image 1974
Stacks Image 1976
Source: "One must die young" the biography of Jens Gielstrup.
(Available in Danish only).
Many Thanks to Martin Sundstrøm, Author "One must die young"


Jens Henning Gielstrup worked as reporter in London at the outbreak of the war. He volunteered for the Royal Air Force, and was killed in action on 23 August 1943.

Jens Henning Gielstrup was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was the son of architect Knud Gielstrup and Elise Gielstrup (née Møller). The family moved to Svanninge near Fåborg early in his life.

He finishes his A-levels in 1935 and worked as journalist at the tabloid "B.T." from 1935 to 1939. In these years he also wrote two novels, Kys til højre og venstre and Det gode hjerte, the former earning him the H.C. Andersen memorial medal.
In 1940 he was head-hunted to another newspaper, "Politiken" and in March 1940 he becomes the newspaper's correspondent in London.

Volunteers for Royal Air Force

In September 1941 Jens Henning Gielstrup voluntered for the Royal Air Force. He was trained in Britain and in Alberta, Canada from June 1942 to February 1943. On 23 March 1943 he is part of No. 51 Intake at No. 5 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit, Tern Hill. From here he is posted to No. 61 Operational Training Unit. The specific dates are unknown, but on 19 May 1943 while at this unit, he damages (cat B) Spitfire IIA ( P8088) when it stalls on landing due to an engine failure, collapsing the undercarriage. At some point during the summer of 1943, he is posted to No. 611 Squadron.

The last Mission

On 23 August 1943, he is one of his first missions from RAF Coltishall in Spitfire Vb (P8545). The aircraft is one of eight Spitfires targeting shipping off Den Helder. After they had crossed the North Sea at sea level, the formation turned north near Egmond towards Den Helder
Dutchess of Kent - Jens Gielstrup - 1943
Here they observed 8-10 armed trawlers and S/L Davies ordered an attack. The formation attacks in two sections. Gielstrup is Blue 4 in Blue section led by Norwegian Captain Arne Austeen. they were met not surprisingly with very accurate defence fire.S/L Davis was shot down and shortly after Gielstrup's aircraft is seen to dip the port wing and crash into the see and breaking up. Gielstrup is killed.
He is commemorated in RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL, Surrey, United Kingdom, Panel 124.