KENT, F/O John Alexander (37106) - Air Force Cross
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 2 January 1939.
Recommendation dated 23 September 1938 (prepared by
W/C M. McEntegart, Commanding Officer, Experimental Section, Royal Aeronautical
Establishment) in Public Record Office, Air 2/9315
Flying Officer Kent has, during the last six months,
made approximately 60 flights involving collision with a wire cable in
connection with the special defence experiments being carried out at this
Establishment. The experiment is one which is accompanied by a considerable
element of risk to the pilot and calls for determination and a high degree
of skill in piloting. Flying Officer Kent has at all times carried out
these duties in a most efficient manner. He is fully aware of the nature
of the risks he is taking but has never allowed this in any way to diminish
the marked willingness and zeal with which he carries out these duties.
Also on 23 September 1938, A.H. Hall (Chief Superintendent,
Royal Aeronautical Establishment) supported this with the following remarks:
I endorse the remarks above. As far as comparisons are
possible I regard the work done by Flying Officer Kent as being at least
as difficult and trying as work done in previous years for which awards
have been made.
On 1 November 1938 A/C Roderick Hill (Director of Technical
I fully endorse the recommendation of the Officer Commanding,
Experimental Section and the Chief Superintendent, Royal Aeronautical
Establishment. I consider Flying Officer Kent has shown gallantry and
determination in experimental flying which has not only set a fine example,
but has produced very valuable results. I consider him suitable for the
award of the Air Force Cross
|Born in Winnipeg, 23 June 1914; educated there.
Obtained Private Pilot License at the Winnipeg Flying Club at age
Appointed Acting Pilot Officer on Probation in RAF, 15 March 1935
- (same time as D.K. Banks and A.L. Bocking)
Confirmed as Pilot Officer, 1936; as
Flight Lieutenant, 15 September 1937
Specifically listed in AFRO 1292/41 dated 7 November 1941
as a Canadian in the RAF who had been decorated as of that date.
Acting Squadron Leader, 17 October 1940.
Served at Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough as a test pilot.
Posted to Photographic Development Unit, May 1940.
Flew with No.303 Squadron during Battle of Britain;
Subsequently posted to command No.92 Squadron.
March 1941 he was appointed Chief Flying Instructor, No.53 OTU
Returned to flying operations as W/C (Flying) at Northolt, June 1941
Took up similar duties at Kenley, July 1941
No.53 OTU as Chief Flying Instructor, October 1941.
In December 1941 sent on lecture tour to North America early in 1942
to Air Ministry (June 1942) and then given command of Church Fenton
Sept. 1942 sent to HQ, Fighter Command as Group Captain (Training)
To Mediterranean in December 1942;
Commanded No.17 Sector (Benghazi) to August 1943,
When he took over No.234 Wing.
Returned to Britain in March 1944; to
No.7 (P) Flying Instructors School
and then in command of No.3 (P) Advanced Flying Unit
British Air Forces of Occupation, at Farnborough (Chief Test Pilot),
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,
Station Odiham and Tangmere
Retired in December 1956
Joined Kelvin-Hughes Aviation Limited as sales manager;
Died 7 October 1985.
KENT, F/L John Alexander (37106) - Distinguished
Flying Cross - No.303 Squadron
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 25 October 1940.
Early in October 1940 this officer when entirely alone,
attacked 40 Messerschmitt 109s and shot down two of them. He has personally
destroyed at least four enemy aircraft. Flight Lieutenant Kent has been
responsible in a large measure for the fighting efficiency of his squadron
and has materially contributed to its successes. He has proved himself
a born leader.
KENT, F/L John Alexander (37106) - Virtuti Militare,
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 16 January 1941
KENT, W/C John Alexander (37106) - Bar to DFC
- Kenley Wing
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 21 October 1941
The following is from Royal Air Force Quarterly, December
This officer has led his wing in an efficient and fearless manner on many
operational sorties within the last two months. He has now destroyed a
further six enemy aircraft, bringing his total success to thirteen destroyed
and three probably destroyed. Wing Commander Kent has set a grand example.
Ace Canadian Air Fighters Are Named by Winnipeg Flier
Winnipeg, March 2, 1942 - (CP) — Wing Commander
J. A. (Alex) Kent of Winnipeg, member of a Royal Air Force squadron that
shot down numerous Nazi planes during raids and over the Channel, said
here today that Wing Commander Mark (Hilly) Brown
of Glenboro, Man., killed in action, "was one of the best fighter
pilots in the R.A.F. and still heads the list of Canadian aces" in
Speaking before members of the Canadian Club, Wing Commander Kent told
of how the Manitoban distinguished himself in several actions against
the enemy as flight commander in the R.A.F.'s No. 1 Fighter Squadron.
Other Canadians whom he named as great fighters were members of No. 1
Canadian Fighter Squadron— Wing Commander E. A. McNab,
Regina; Wing Commander Gordon McGregor and
Squadron Leaders Dal Russel, Hartland Molson
and Paul Pitcher, all from Eastern Canada.
He told how he and other British pilots drilled a squadron of Polish pilots.
"One day the Polish squadron was practicing intercepting enemy raiders
when they actually ran into a lot of Nazi planes. The fighters gathered
around and got the trainees out of trouble except for one Polish airman
(Lt. Ludwik Paszkiewicz. ed), who dashed across, shot down a Dornier 17
and then rejoined the squadron. The R.A.F. officers thought it was just
lucky (According to post-war research, the plane misidentified as a Do
17 by Paszkiewicz was a Messerschmitt Bf 110. ed).
The next day however, the Poles shot down six Messerschmitts for no loss.
Then the R.A.F. officers decided the Poles had trained enough and the
squadron was allowed to go into action, which they did with a vengeance.
Flying Hurricanes, the Poles shot down 130 enemy planes in the next six
weeks," Wing Commander Kent said.
Airmen Who Met Huns During Battle of Britain
Some of Canada's First Aces of This War Still Are
— Pilots Now Seek Out Enemy Over His Own Territory
(Written for the Canadian Press by Flt.Lt. Basil Dean,
Fighter Command, Somewhere in England, Sept. 8, 1943 — (CP) —
There are still some of the few left, some of those hard-fighting combat
pilots of Battle of Britain days, but mostly it is a new brood of pilots
who fly from the air bases hereabouts in Britain's Fighter Command. Three
years ago, when the first few of Canada's aerial aces were fighting their
way to fame, the battles were over. British soil. Now, with greater numbers
of Canadians than ever before in Fighter Command, the pilots are going
out to seek the enemy over his own territory. This air fighting of today
is offensive, not defensive, as during the Battle of Britain, but it was
the fighting then that made the current offensive possible.
Some Still Flying
Some of the Canadians who fought with honor and glory in those grim days
three years ago are still flying. Wing-Cmdr. D. B. Russel,
D.F.C., of Montreal, who now leads an R.C.A.F. Spitfire wing in Britain,
was then P/O Dal Russel and a member of Canada's No. 1 Fighter Squadron,
which arrived in England in June, 1940 — just in time to get trained
for the fierce tests of August and September of that year.
Russel's old commanding officer, Ernie McNab,
now is Group Capt. Ernest McNab, D.F.C., of Regina, commander of an R.C.A.F.
In Sicily, Squadron-Ldr. Stanley Turner, D.F.C.
and Bar, of Toronto, led the R.C.A.F.'s City of Windsor fighter squadron
through the island campaign. In 1940, he was a flight commander in the
R.A.F.'s famed "all-Canadian" squadron led by Wing-Cmdr. Douglas
Bader, D.S.O., D.F.C., which destroyed
63 enemy aircraft during the Battle of Britain and shared three with other
The squadron was composed mainly of Canadians who had joined the R.A.F.
before the war, and fought nobly during the Battle of France and over
Its achievements during the Battle of Britain, indeed, brought from the
air officer commanding of the group in which it was serving at the time
a message which said that its efficiency as a squadron was "equal,
if not superior, to any squadron in the R.A.F." The British chief
of air staff signaled: "You are well on top of the enemy and obviously
the fine Canadian traditions of the last war are safe in your hands."
Greatest pilot of the "all-Canadian" squadron—apart from
the legless commander, Bader (who was not Canadian) — was P.O. W.
L. McKnight, D.F.C. and bar, of Calgary, who
was reported missing some months after the Battle of Britain ended. McKnight
destroyed 16½ enemy aircraft, and was the first Canadian ace of
The "all-Canadian" squadron's first Battle of Britain engagement
was August 30, when Bader, now a prisoner of war, led a formation of 14
Hurricanes against a "vast number" of German aircraft, two swarms
of 70 to 100 each. Detaching one section to investigate a third formation
of aircraft some distance away, Bader led the rest of his pilots to the
attack. As a result, 12 enemy aircraft were destroyed; not one of the
Hurricanes had so much a scratch.
Similar engagements followed. On September 7, Bader and his Canadians
destroyed 10 enemy aircraft without losing a pilot, although seven of
the squadron's Hurricanes were damaged. On September 19, when the wing
in which the squadron was flying destroyed a total of 18 enemy aircraft,
the "all-Canadians" were credited with 11 of these for the loss
of one pilot killed.
And then, in the greatest day's fighting of all on September 15, the squadron
destroyed 12 enemy aircraft. This was the day on which Bader described
the fighting as "the finest shamble I've ever been in."
"The sky," he added, "was full of Hurricanes and Spitfires,
queuing up and pushing each other out of the way to get at the Dorniers.
I was seldom able to hold my sights on a target for long for fear of colliding
with other Spitfires and Hurricanes anxious to get in a burst."
Among the Canadians PO. J. B. Latta, D.F.C., Victoria,
B.C., had knocked down five enemy planes; Flt.-Lt. Turner had five; so had P.O. N. K. Stansfeld, D.F.C.,
Vancouver. PO. H. N. Tamblyn, D.F.C., North
Battleford, Sask., and PO. N. Hart had four each.
Altogether Canadian pilots in the squadron had destroyed 45 of the total
of 65 credited to the squadron; Bader had scored 11.
Canada's own No. 1 fighter squadron, which although its personnel have
completely changed; is still flying in Britain with fighter command, had
scored a total of 31 victories during the battle under McNab's leadership.
McNab himself had scored the first victory to be credited to a member
of the squadron when, in order to gain combat experience, he flew as a
supernumerary officer with an R.A.F. squadron before No. 1 fighter was
ready for front-line duties.
In the squadron's first engagement as a unit, on August 24, it destroyed
three Dorniers for the loss of one pilot. By the end of its first week
in action it had destroyed eight enemy aircraft for the loss of one pilot
killed. The score continued to mount until September 27, when the Canadian
squadron destroyed seven enemy aircraft out of about 70 engaged during
the day; one pilot of the squadron was killed. In the day's first fight,
Russel had destroyed an ME 109 and an ME 110 and had shared with a Polish
pilot the destruction of a third enemy fighter.
McNab, Flt.Lt. G. R. McGregor and Russel were
each awarded the D.F.C., having destroyed between them, 11½ of
the squadron's total. McNab and McGregor now are both group captains;
Russel is a wing commander.
In other squadrons of the R.A.F., Canadians had also distinguished themselves.
One of the flight commanders in the R.A.F. squadron was a Canadian, Flt-Lt.
R. A. Barton, Kamloops, B.C., who later became
squadron commander of his unit. He was awarded the D.F.C. for his "outstanding
leadership" on September 27, a day on which the squadron destroyed
21 enemy aircraft for the loss of two pilots killed. The total
bag during September was 48, a total exceeded only by the famous No. 303
Polish squadron, in which another Canadian, Flt.-Lt. (now Wing-Cmdr.)
John Kent, Winnipeg, was at that time a flight commander.
back of this photo reads "USAAF Officers attached as "Official
Observers" and 303 sq. Officers with Wing Leader Kent, Northolt 1941
- Gp Capt Kent, Tangmere, Sussex" and looks to be written by Kent
himself. From the left - Lt. Green (USAAF), Lt. Wilson (USAAF), F/O Lokuciewski
(303 Polish Squadron), W/Cdr John A. Kent (C/O the Polish Wing), Lt. Miriam
(USAAF), F/O Grzeszczak (303 Polish Squadron) and F/O Lipinski [photo
courtesy of Jarek Gwardys PAF ret.] ... (I was gettin ready to crop
the right side a bit but I started thinkin that fender and wheel looked
kinda cool ;^)
Chris Shores, Aces High, lists
the following aerial victories:
3 September 1940, one Bf.110 destroyed,
- one Ju.88 prob. destroyed (Hurricane
23 September 1940, one Bf.109 destroyed and
- one FW.58 damaged (Hurricane V6681)
27 September 1940, one Ju.88 destroyed (Hurricane V6684)
1 October 1940. one Bf.109 destroyed,
- one Bf.109 prob. destroyed (Hurricane
1 November 1940, one Bf.109 destroyed (Spitfire, No.92
2 November 1940, two Bf.109s destroyed (separate engagements)
- one Bf.109 probably destroyed;
21 June 1941,
one Bf.109 destroyed (Spitfire P8189, Northolt Wing)
27 June 1941,
one Bf.109 destroyed on ground
3 July 1941,
one Bf.109 destroyed (Spitfire P8518, Northolt
20 July 1941,
one Bf.109 destroyed
7 August 1941
one Bf.109 destroyed, Kenley Wing)
16 August 1941, one Bf.109 destroyed
25 January 1943, one Ju.88 damaged
(Hurricane DG-H of No.17 Sector)
Gave a talk on BBC, 23 December 1940 which was reprinted
in Winged Words.
Authored an autobiography called - "One of the Few"