Where Was Børge A. Hirsch between secondary school completion in 1946 and his arrival in the United States in 1953?

By Marie Johanna (Hirsch) Abajian

            Our histories fascinate our children and help them master the challenges of growing up.  We all want to know what mom or dad was like before we came along, normally we have grandparents, aunts and uncles to share stories of those years, but what about those that moved to another country or their family was in discord?  When you have no other family members you must rely on and believe the stories your parent tells, not knowing what is or is not true, along with gaps in time frames covered by the stories.  I want to know where my dad Børge Arne Hirsch was from the time he left school until he arrived in the United States.

            Børge Arne Arthur Adolf Hirsch was born 22 June 1928 in Tisvildeleje, Denmark, and baptized at Tibirke Church on 26 December[1].  His parents Wilhelm and Eline (Jensen) Hirsch were older than traditional parents with three grown children already out of the home with families of their own[2].  Børge grew up in German occupied Denmark attending local schools, where he graduated from Helsinge Gymnasium [Helsinge High School] in 1941 at the age of thirteen.  Later he attended trade school in Copenhagen learning the trade of locksmith and finishing in 1945 at the age of seventeen[3].  At the end of WWII, the Danish Government offered Britain soldiers to relieve troops who had been fighting for years and wanted to return home. Of about 2,500 who volunteered, one was Børge.  From Børge’s stories I learned much of his childhood, but nothing of his teen years or his early adult years, with the exception of a few stories of a not so successful boxing career.  Upon his death 2 July 1989, I learned from his files many new facets of his life[4].

            Børge was a story teller, as well as a joker; all stories told were believed with some skepticism.  He said he ran away to join the army and lied about his age to enlist.  After seeing pictures of him at that age, I could believe he would pass for older, but was the story true?  He also loved to tell the story of getting shot in the buttocks at which time he contracted malaria while recouping from. He then was transferred to a different hospital in the middle of Nigeria; he somehow fell out of the jeep and landed in a wasp nest.  Now really who in their right mind would believe a story like that?

            At the time of Børge’s birth, it was common or required by law, although no laws have been found at this time stating so, that it was required to be baptized to register the child’s birth.  What I find very interesting is that the name I knew my father by is not his registered name, I never knew of the additional middle names, Arthur and Adolf.  I found two separate baptismal records, issued eight years apart, one issued in November of 1945 and the other in November of 1953, coincidentally the time frame I’m searching[5].

            If found him joining the British Army on 30 January 1945, for a three year enlistment[6].  Did he lie about his age?  I believe he showed his baptismal record due to the fact the date on his Army Release record appears to show the correct birth date[7].  He began service on seven February 1946, after which he was granted leave three times, each for 7 days.  Each one lists his father as the contact person during that time[8].  So this is another question answered, because he didn’t lie about his age, and it’s doubtful he ran away.  During his training 11 February to 23 May 1946 he received inoculations for many third world diseases that were available at that time[9].  No record specifically states his deployment location, but, using known history of that time period and photos from his photo album, it strongly suggests he was near Palestine or Egypt[10].  The story of being shot has no record available at this time, nor does the recuperation of malaria.  Although, having received the inoculations for many of the diseases in that area, it is unlikely that the case of malaria would require a long hospital stay.  I did find a very small and folded piece of paper that was torn from a receipt book stating, “Driver Hirsch has been in Hospital suffering from multiple bee stings.”[11]  While, that part of his story is partially true, it does not say how many occurred. To be put into the hospital it must have been more than two or three, the quote was dated March 1948, yet another clue.

            By June 1948 I find Børge in London, England, newly released from the army.  Most of the Danes were released in 1948, why was that?  Contained within his release book there are notations, in shorthand medical terms on the “Hospital and Medical Care” page, could this mean that he was being treated while living there?[12]  The Danish passport, obtained not from Denmark, but from the Danish Embassy in London, lists his address at a hotel nearby the location listed as a military hospital[13].  It would seem that he was being treated, but for what?  There are three pages missing from his release book, and at this time they are a mystery as to what they were or contain.  There is then a notation in the passport that he has moved to an address in Staines, Middlesex, England, which is a suburb of London[14].  We now know where he was for most of 1948.

            Two years pass, with little but stamps in his passport traveling to and from Denmark, for no more than two weeks at any visit.  He then, on 4 March 1950 after a three month visit to Denmark, he obtained an Alien Registration record (similar to the American Green Card[15].)  It does note his birth year as 1947 which could have been an error by the recorder or Børge was responsible.[16]  This record shows him living in Staines from 4 March 1950 to 9 August 1953, when he moved to New Malden, Middlesex, England[17].  During his time in Staines he worked as a driver for two different employers, and with positions as an operator and a factory worker.  While living in New Malden he worked as a driver[18].  To obtain his job as a driver, he obtained two different types of driver’s licenses, a normal English driver’s license and an International driver’s license[19].  Neither license book shows any infractions or violations on the pages provided for that purpose.  The last entry in his Alien Registration book makes a statement that on 24 October 1953 he would be sailing to United States from Southampton[20].  He then applied for a Social Security card in Los Angeles on 12 November 1953, less than one month after arriving in the United States[21].

            To sum up the information found searching for clues of Børge’s life from 1946 to 1953, we can conclude he loved to tell stories and at least parts of them are shown to be true.  This is found through his handwritten notes, he finished school in 1945, and all his military records state his trade upon joining was locksmith[22].  I find that he joined the British Army in 1946 and released in 1948 by using his military release record[23].  I find that he lived in or near London from 1948 to 1953, by using his passports, Alien Registration, and driver’s licenses[24].  The next step is to obtain his official military records, find the ship manifest listing him on his trip from England to United States and someday find him in a census or other English record of his living in England.

[1] Copies and originals of bound and unbound personal notes, documents and photographs; privately held by Dorothy Hirsch, Los Angeles, CA, 2013, items created by Borge Arne Hirsch, born 1928 at Tisvildeleje, Denmark.

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

[4] California Department of Health Services, Death Certificate 28938994592 (1989), Borge Arthur Hirsch, Office of Vital Records.

[5] Notes, documents and photographs, Borge A. Hirsch.

[6] England, “Soldier’s Release Book, Class A,” Royal Army Reserve Record Office, Borge Hirsch, T/14195676, 15 August 1948, collection of Marie Abajian, La Cañada Flintridge, CA, 2013.

[7] ibid

[8] England, “Soldier’s Service and Pay Book; Army Book 64 (parts I and II),” Borge Arne Adolf Hirsch, original document, collection of Marie Abajian, La Cañada Flintridge, CA, 2013.

[9] ibid

[10] Notes, documents and photographs, Borge A. Hirsch.

[11] ibid

[12] England, “Soldier’s Release Book,” Borge Hirsch

[13] Danmark, Passeport [Passport], 15 November 1948, Royal Danish Embassy, London, England, Borge Arthur Adolf Arne Hirsch, 693-1948.

[14] ibid

[15] England, “Alien Order 1920, Certificate of Registration,” Alien Registration Office, London, England, Borge Hirsch, A361127, 4 March 1950.

[16] England, “Certificate of Registration,” Borge Hirsch.

[17] ibid

[18] ibid

[19] England, driving licence [license], Borge Arne Adolf Arthur Hirsch, issued 3 April 1953, 6/298302, London, England; Middlesex County Council.  England, international driving permit, Borge Arne Adolf Arthur Hirsch, issued 1 June 1953, 265143, London, England, Ministry of Transport.

[20] England, “Certificate of Registration, Borge Hirsch.

[21] Borge A.A.A. Hirsch, SS no. 568-48-5066, 12 November 1953, Application for Account Number (Form SS-5), Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland.

[22] England, “Soldiers Service and Pay Book,” Borge Hirsch. England, “Soldier’s Release Book,” Borge Hirsch.

[23] England, “Soldier’s Release Book,” Borge Hirsch.

[24] Danmark, passeport, Borge Hirsch, 1948. Danmark, passeport, Borge Hirsch, 1953. England, “Certificate of Registration,” Borge Hirsch, 1950. England, driving licence [license], Borge Hirsch, 1953. England, international driving permit, Borge Hirsch, 1953.


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