1939-45 Star, clasp Battle of Britain, Africa Star, 1939-45 War Medal, Pilot Officer P. Kennett, RAFVR, A Hurricane pilot and ‘One of the Few’, who having succesfully defended England, volunteered to defend Malta, one week after his arrival he was shot down and killed over Malta after having destroyed a Ju88, then being jumped by Me109’s who shot him down leaving him stranded in the middle of the sea, he drowned before rescue could arrive on 11th April 1941.
With his Father Thomas Kennett’s Member of the Order of the British Empire, M.B.E. 2nd Type Breast Badge in case of issue, awarded for Civilian service in 1942 and his Defence Medal.
“Not very long ago he (Kennett) told me he was sure he was going to be killed” – Hurricanes over Malta
Thomas Kennett was born in Paddington, London, he attested for the 2nd County of London Yeomanry on 7th August 1914, but was discharged as Medically Unfit on 21st August 1914 and was employed as Assistant Town Clerk, he was awarded his M.B.E. in the New Years Honours in L.G. 1st January 1942, sadly his son did not live to see his father honoured.
Peter Kennett was Thomas’s son, born in Slough during May 1919, educated at House School, Slough and Cranbrook. At Cranbrook he was a member of the Officer Training Corps, joining the Luton Squadron, of the Voluntary Reserve as an Airman undergoing Pilot training in June 1939.
He was first mobilised with the outbreak of WW2, and was commissioned as Pilot Officer (on probation), RAFVR in July 1940.
Initially posted as a Pilot for operational service with 3 Squadron in Hurricanes, out of Turnhouse, Scotland at the beginning of September 1940.
After transferring to another Hurricane Squadron, 605 Sqn in Croydon on 30th September 1940, he shortly afterwards returned to 3 Squadron now in Castletown, on 17th October 1940.
He flew in various scrambles with the squadron during this time before being posted to 46 Squadron, in North Weald, during November 1940.
He flew in several patrols with 46 Sqn, moving with the Squadron to Digby in December 1940, before his transfer to 17 Squadron in Martlesham on 21st December 1940.
During this time he was mainly tasked with Fighter Sweeps, he continued to serve with 17 Squadron until the opportunity arose for him to volunteer for overseas service in March 1941.
One month later he sailed on HMS Ark Royal for Malta, and flew his Hurricane off the Carrier on 3rd April 1941.
Upon his arrival in Malta he flew with 261 Squadron out of Ta Kali, he survived less than a week before he was shot down and killed.
A report of his death is in the book Hurricanes over Malta;
A ‘1942’ Civil Division M.B.E. pair awarded to Mr. T. Kennett
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, M.B.E. (Civil) Member’s 2nd type breast badge, silver, in Royal Mint case of issue; Defence Medal, extremely fine
A Second War ‘Battle of Britain’ Hurricane Pilot’s campaign group of three awarded to Pilot Officer P. Kennett, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, who flew operationally with 3 and 605 Squadrons during the Battle. He volunteered for overseas service in March 1941, and was shot down and killed in the process of claiming a shared probably destroyed Ju88 off Malta, 11 April 1941
‘A relatively strong force of fighters approached Malta on 11 April , apparently as cover for a Luftwaffe reconnaissance aircraft. Twelve MC200s of the 17 Gruppo under the command of Magg. Bruno Brambilla, covered by six CR 42s from the 23 Gruppo led by Ten. Col. Falconi, swept over the island, while the Bf109Es of 7/JG 26 also made for the same location. Numbers of Hurricanes were scrambled at various times during the mid-morning. Sgt. Deacon made his first sortie in V3978, seeing five CR 42s, but being unable to engage these. A little later two of the new Hurricane IIs, flown by Plt. Off. Peter Kennett and Sgt. Waghorn, intercepted a Ju88 and were reported to have shot it down. At that moment both were bounced by Bf109s, and were shot down. Their aircraft, Z3036 and Z2904, both crashed into the sea; Kennett got out and was seen by Sqn. Ldr. Lambert swimming and waving vigorously. However there was a long delay in sending out a rescue launch as the raid was still on, and he was dead when eventually picked up; Waghorn was also killed. Recorded Westmacott that evening: “Plt. Off. Kennett and Sgt. Waghorn killed… It is the same old story – no one was looking behind. It is frightfully difficult to make inexperienced pilots realise the necessity of even so small a formation as two aircraft keeping one up above looking out while the other is attacking the Hun… Not very long ago he (Kennett) told me he was sure he was going to be killed.”
Kennett and Waghorn were posthumously credited with the Ju88 they shot down, after recovery of their bodies they were buried alongside one another in Capuccini Naval Cemetery, Malta.
Written from the RAF Officer’s Mess, Ta Kali, Malta 12th April 1940 by the Commanding Officer, sent to Thomas Kennett;
“Dear Mr Kennett,
By now no doubt you will have heard from the Air Ministry of the death of your son yesterday.
He was on an interception patrol over the Island when he engaged a formation of enemy fighters and you will I hope find some consolation in knowing that he assisted in the destruction of at least one enemy fighter before he himself as shot down into the sea some distance from land.
I carried out a search from the air and eventually located him but he was found to have been drowned when picked up. The funeral took place this morning at the Royal Naval Cemetery. In the Meantime your son’s effects are being dealt with and they will be returned to you as soon as possible.
Your son was with us for only a few days, but even in that short time his keenness and courage let a very with the rest of the Squadron and his loss will be greatly felt.
Please accept the deepest sympathy in your great loss, both on my behalf and on behalf of the officers and the men of the Squadron. If there is anything further that I can do to help, please do not hesitate to communicate with me.”
Included is a number of original documents and photos, including the WW2 Campaign medals box of issue sent posthumously to his father T. Kennett, The Bestowal Document for M.B.E., named to Thomas Kennett, Condolence Slip to P/O Kennett, his Original Commission Document as a Pilot Officer, 27th July 1940, his named RAF Memorial Scroll, 5 photos of P. Kennett’s Funeral and more of his grave, also an original letter of condolence sent to his Father.