Ad­di­tional in­sight into the life of a dec­o­rated Spit­fire pilot

One of the Few by Johnny Kent www.the­his­to­ry­, £20. 272 pages, all black & white il­lus­tra­tions

Pilot - - BOOKS & GEAR -

Orig­i­nally pub­lished in 1971, this is Johnny Kent’s mem­oir of RAF ser­vice. A Canadian na­tional, he learned to fly in Canada, then came to the UK and joined the RAF in 1935 be­fore WWII broke out. His il­lus­tri­ous ser­vice his­tory in the war in­cluded fight­ing in the Bat­tle of Bri­tain, and com­mand­ing the Pol­ish 303 squadron — to name but two sig­nif­i­cant high­lights. Af­ter the war his post­ings in­cluded chief test pilot at Farn­bor­ough, a stint in the USA, and com­mand of sta­tions such as Tang­mere. While it is al­ways in­ter­est­ing to read a per­sonal ac­count of aerial war­fare, this new edi­tion con­tains a fore­word and end­word by Johnny’s youngest daugh­ter Alexandra Kent, putting ad­di­tional con­text on her fa­ther’s ori­gins and life af­ter the war. Some years ju­nior to her sib­lings, she was still young when her par­ents separated (in 1969), largely due to her fa­ther’s heavy drink­ing, which is at­trib­uted partly to the stress he un­der­went dur­ing the war, and she saw lit­tle of him there­after. He died in 1985. It was only when she read Richard King’s book 303 ‘Pol­ish’ Squadron Bat­tle of Bri­tain Di­ary and dis­cov­ered ref­er­ences to a woman called Janet, that she dis­cov­ered her fa­ther had been mar­ried pre­vi­ously, dur­ing the war, and she was in­spired to learn more about her fa­ther’s early life and to bal­ance the dec­o­rated war hero with the fa­ther she knew and his rather more dif­fi­cult life af­ter he left RAF ser­vice in 1956. JA

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