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Otto Hjalmar Antoft

Servicenumber : J/25114
Rank : Flying Officer
Regiment : Royal Canadian Air Force
Unit : 190th (R.A.F.) Squadron
Date of Death : 21-09-1944
Age : 25
Grave : Plot 4. Row D. Grave 6-7.
Otto Hjalmar Antoft was a son of Otto Hugo and Asta Antoft of Kentville, King;s Co., Nova Scotia, Canada. He was born on 21 february 1919 in Denmark. When he was 11 years old, the family emigrated to Canada, first to Winnipeg and then Lakeville. Antoft attended Kentville schools and graduated with honours from Kings County Acadamy in june 1937, winning the Stevenson Scholarship to attend King's College. He graduated from university in 1941 with an honours BA in Public Administration. While a student he was involved with a number of student organizations, including the Canadian Student Assembly. During summer breaks he worked as a bellhop at the Digby Pines Resort, in Digby, Nova Scotia. After his graduation years, Antoft had intended to complete a Master's degree with a study of the Danish colonial administration of Greenland.
On 5 march 1942 Antoft joined the Royal Canadian Air Force at a recruitment centre in Halifax. He is ordered to report to the No. 5 Manning Depot, Lachine, Quebec on 20 april 1942. Antoft is posted here until early june at which point he is posted to No. 31 Operational Training Unit, Debert, Nova Scotia.
On 1 august 1942 Antoft is posted to No. 3 Initial Training School, Victoriaville, Quebec. The course end on 26 september 1942 and Antoft is posted to No. 10 Air Observer School, Chatham, New Brunswick. He ends training here at 19 march 1943. The next day he was posted to No. 34 Operational Training Unit, Penfield Ridge, New Brunswick.
On 13 june 1943 Antoft was transferred to No. 1 "Y" Depot, Halifax, for overseas duty, and on 22 june 1943 he became part of the RAF Training Pool. He embarked for England on 23 june and arrived on 1 july 1943. On 2 july Antoft was taken on strenght at No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth. 
Antoft is posted to No. 13 Operational Training Unit on 17 august 1943. He ended this training on 21 october and was tranferred to RAF Stoney Cross. On 4 november 1943 he was posted to No. 299 Squadron. This squadron was equipped with Lockheed Venturas, but conversion to Short Stirlings commenced in january 1944. 
On 8 february 1944 Antoft is posted at No. 190 Squadron as Flying Officer. This squadron was formed at Leicester East as an Airborne forces squadron equipped with Short Stirlings. Training flying began in march 1944 and supply-dropping missions over France in april. The squadron was involved in the dropping of paratroops behind enemy lines in Normandy on D-Day. . 
On the first day of Market Garden 190th squadron carried the pathfinders of the 21st Independent Parachute Company to Arnhem. Antoft was navigator/bomber on Stirling LJ-943. On 18 september the plane took off at 12.10hrs from Fairford airfield. The plane was towing a Horsa glider with a jeep, a 6-pounder anti-tank gun and 3 men of the 1st Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery. The Stirling was drawn into the slipstream of a Dakota and the towrope snapped. The Horsa landed safely near Oude-Tonge. 
On 21 september at 13.43hrs the Stirling LJ -943 took off from Fairford on a resupply mission to Arnhem. The operation was carried out sucesfully, despite heavy and light flak. The aircraft was hit several times. 
At some point the plane caught fire and the crew failed to extinguish the fire. Two men managed to bail out before the plane crashed near the "De Slop" farm, south of the river Rhine at Zetten. One of the two men who managed to bail out saw Antoft putting on his parachute in order to follow him out of the aircraft, but for some reason he never did. 
Some sources say the plane crashed between Ede and Benekom. Antoft was buried at a churchyard near a church at Zetten. He was later reburied at the Airborne Cemetery in Oosterbeek.
Antoft posthumously received a number of Canadian war medals as well as one from the Danish goverment in recognition of his service as a Dane in Allied service.
Picture: 23-09-2012
 
Sources: Website CWGC, website http://www.danishww2pilots.dk (thank you Mikkel Plannthin) and Roll of Honour

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