Carl Gustaf von Rosen


Carl Gustaf von Rosen

Count Carl Gustaf Ericsson von Rosen (august 19 1909 – july 13 1977) was a Swedish pioneer aviator, son of the explorer Eric von Rosen (1879–1948) and nephew of Carin Göring, wife of Hermann Göring.

Biography

Von Rosen was born in Helgesta, Södermanland, Sweden.

He was interested in mechanics at an early age and became fascinated by flying machines, partly through the influence of Hermann Göring, who was an ace during World War I and later head of the Luftwaffe. Von Rosen's own flying career started as a mechanic and then pilot in a traveling aerial circus, where he became a skilled aerobatic pilot, which served him well later in life.

When the Italians under Mussolini attacked the independent empire of Ethiopia, von Rosen joined a relief mission, flying food and supplies for the Red Cross. In this he survived several attacks by the Italian Air Force as well as harsh terrain conditions.

After his return from the war in Ethiopia, he went to the Netherlands to join KLM, the first public air line in the world, and became one of their foremost pilots. He married a Dutch wife, but their happiness ended with the outbreak of the Second World War. When the Russians tried to invade Finland in the Winter War, von Rosen quit his job to fly bombing missions for the Finns. A year later, as the Germans attacked the Netherlands, von Rosen went to England and applied for service with the RAF but was turned down, on account of his family relation to Hermann Göring. Von Rosen's Dutch wife joined the resistance and was killed during the war, while Carl Gustav continued flying for the KLM on the dangerous route LondonLisbon.

After the war, von Rosen spent years in Ethiopia as an instructor for the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force. He left to become the pilot for the second secretary general of the UN, Dag Hammarskjöld. By a strange twist of fate, Hammarskjöld was killed in an air crash while mediating in the Congo Crisis, when von Rosen was grounded by illness.

Von Rosen's involvement in Africa did not end with the Congo Crisis. He gained international fame seven years later when he flew relief missions for aid organisations into war torn Biafra, a break-away republic of Nigeria. Disgusted at the suffering the Nigerian government imposed on the Biafrans and the continuous harassment of the relief flights by the Nigerian Air Force, he hatched a plan in collaboration with the French secret service to hit back. He imported five small civilian single engine Malmö MFI-9 planes produced by SAAB, which he knew to have been originally designed for a ground attack role in warfare. He had the planes painted in camouflage colours, fitted with rockets and proceeded with a band of friends to form a squadron called 'Babies of Biafra' to attack the air fields from which the federal Nigerian Air Force launched their attacks against the civilian population in Biafra. On May 22, 1969, and over the next few days, Von Rosen and his five aircraft launched attacks against Nigerian air fields at Port Harcourt, Enungu, and other small airports. The Nigerians were taken by surprise and a number of expensive jets, including a few MiG-17 fighters and three out of their six Ilyushin Il-28 bombers, were destroyed on the ground.Gary Brecher. [http://old.exile.ru/2004-October-15/war_nerd.html Biafra: Killer Cessnas and Crazy Swedes] 15 October 2004.]

The last action Count von Rosen saw was again in Africa in 1977, during the Ogaden War between Ethiopia and Somalia. Again flying relief for refugees, he was killed on the ground on 13 July, 1977, during a sudden Somali guerrilla attack near Gode.

ee also

* Second Italo-Abyssinian War

References


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