Kain, Edgar James "Cobber"

    Date of birth:
    June 27th, 1918 (Hastings/Northern Island, New Zealand)
    Date of death:
    June 7th, 1940 (Echemines/Champagne-Ardennes, France)
    Buried on:
    Commonwealth War Cemetery Choloy
    Nationality:
    New Zealander (1907-1947, Dominion UK)

    Biography

    Service number 39534.

    Cobber Kain was educated at Christ's College, Christchurch and studied mathematics at the University Tutorial School. He became interested in flying and joined the Wellington Aero Club in his teens and received his "A" pilot's licence at Wigram in 1936. At that time he was a clerk in his father's commercial business. He then applied for a RAF short service commission and arrived in the United Kingdom in November of that year and, receiving his short-term commission in December. After completion of training, he was posted to No. 73 Squadron on Gloster Gladiators and gave an exhibition of aerobatics at the 1938 Empire Air Day Show.
    In September 1939 he accompanied the Squadron, which was then equipped with Hurricanes, out to France as a part of the Advanced Air Striking Force. He claimed his first two victories in November. By the end of March 1940 he had already claimed five aircraft shot down - the first RAF pilot to do so and thus becoming the first RAF ace; a fact that was elaborately reported on by the press. It was not al success though which came his way as he was twice shot down by French gunners. In the following Blitzkrieg, he was constandly in action, his claims mounting rapidly.
    On June 6th, 1940 he was ordered to return to England and took off from Echemines landing ground. As he was taking off, he made a slow roll. The wingtip of his Hurricane caught the ground however and he crashed to his death. His mother subsequently travelled from New Zealand to receive het son's DFC from the hands of King George. His final tally was 16 destroyed and 1 damaged.

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    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Flying Officer
    Awarded on:
    February 20th, 1940
    Mentioned in Despatches
    Period:
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Rank:
    Flying Officer
    Awarded on:
    March 29th, 1940
    Action:
    Citation:
    "In March, 1940, while on patrol with another aircraft, Flying Officer Kain sighted seven enemy bombers about 5,000 feet above him, and while giving chase well into Germany, he was attacked from behind by an enemy fighter. Showing the finest fighting spirit this officer out manoeuvred the enemy and although his own aircraft was badly damaged he succeeded in bringing the hostile aircraft down. Thick smoke and oil fumes had filled his cockpit and although unable to see his compass, he skilfully piloted his aircraft inside allied lines in spite of being choked and blinded by the smoke."
    Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)

    Sources