John Alexander Kent
"Johnny Kentowski"

"Johnny Kentowski" otherwise known as John Kent

RAF  G/C  -  DFC & Bar, Air Force Cross, Virtuti Militare

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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 Developments) added:

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

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Born in Winnipeg, 23 June 1914; educated there.
Obtained Private Pilot License at the Winnipeg Flying Club at age 17
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
POSTWAR :
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.

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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.

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KENT, F/L John Alexander (37106) - Virtuti Militare, 5th Class
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 16 January 1941

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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 1940:
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.

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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 this war.
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.

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Airmen Who Met Huns During Battle of Britain
Paved Way For Offensive
Some of Canada's First Aces of This War Still Are in Action
— Pilots Now Seek Out Enemy Over His Own Territory

(Written for the Canadian Press by Flt.Lt. Basil Dean, R.C.A.F.)
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. fighter station.
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 squadrons.
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 Dunkerque.

Most Efficient
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 war.
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.

The 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 (USSAF), 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.]The 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 ;^)

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Chris Shores, Aces High, lists the following aerial victories:

3 September 1940,   one Bf.110 destroyed,
                              - one Ju.88 prob. destroyed (Hurricane V6665);
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 V6681)
1 November 1940,   one Bf.109 destroyed (Spitfire, No.92 Squadron)
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 Wing)
20 July 1941,            one Bf.109 destroyed
7 August 1941          one Bf.109 destroyed, Kenley Wing)
16 August 1941,       one Bf.109 destroyed (Kenley Wing)
25 January 1943,      one Ju.88 damaged (Hurricane DG-H of No.17 Sector)

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Gave a talk on BBC, 23 December 1940 which was reprinted in Winged Words.
Authored an autobiography called - "One of the Few"

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--- Canadian Aces ---

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On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research (which includes info from numerous sources), newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC) as well as other sources both published and private

 

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