Independence Signet for Division 303 fighter pilot ace
John Kent, a Canadian colonel and fighter pilot ace, has been posthumously awarded with an Independence Signet. The distinction is awarded to heroes fighting for freedom and will be bestowed during the “Defiant, Dogged, Damned” festival held in honour of the Cursed Soldiers. This year’s edition of the festival will take place in Gdynia and last from 28 September to 1 October.
The Independence Signet will be handed to Alexandra Kent, the daughter of the honoured pilot, during the official gala marking the closing of the festival.
John Alexander Kent received his pilot’s licence at the age of 17. In 1935 he came to Great Britain and became a member of the Royal Air Force. In August 1940 he was made Flight Commander of No. 303 ("Kościuszko") Polish Fighter Squadron. Initially, he was not very happy with his placement.
“I wanted to shout! All I knew about Polish aviation was that its air force was destroyed in merely two days,” the explained.
However, it wasn’t long before Johnny Kentowski – as the Polish pilots called him – changed his mind about the Polish pilots fighting the Luftwaffe. In his diary he wrote: “The performance by the Poles is absolutely fantastic. They simply destroy everything that comes their way. They have great vision, excellent shooting skills and they like shooting at Krauts – which they’re very successful in! They love doing it and treat it as a recreation of sorts”.
Kent led the Squadron until 18 December 1940 and was in charge during the Battle of Britain. He received many distinctions, among them the Virtuti Militari Silver Cross, which was given to him by Wladyslaw Sikorski. He always looked back at his service in the Polish Division with great sentiment. Many years later he described his time there with the following words:
“There are not enough words to describe how proud I am to have been the commander of the No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron. I regard the friendship I shared with the Poles as my biggest reward. We, the pilots who had the honour of flying and fighting with them, will never forget – and Great Britain can never forget – how much we owe to the loyalty, unwavering spirit and sacrifice of these Polish pilots”.
Source: Do Rzeczy