Edgar James Kain

Edgar James Kain

Edgar James Kain was born in Hastngs, New Zealand, on 27th June, 1918. After leaving school he worked as a clerk in his father's business in Wellington.

Kain took up flying and obtained his pilot's licence with the Wellington Aero Club in 1936. The following year he moved to England where he joined the Royal Air Force.

On the outbreak of the Second World War Kain was a member of 73 Squadron. On 8th November 1939 Kain shot down a Dornier D017 reconnaissance aircraft. A few days later he brought down a second Dornier.

As a result of bad weather Kain saw little action for the next three months. However, on 1st March, 1940, Kain shot down a Messerschmitt Bf 109 before being hit by his companion and he was forced to crash land in Metz. He shot down another BF 109 on 26th March but once again his plane was badly damaged and he was had to bale out and suffered burns to his face.

During the summer of 1940 Kain became the best known flying ace in Britain when he shot down another ten German aircraft over France. On the 7th June 190, Edgar James Kain was ordered to return to England. A group of friends decided to see him off and while performing a series of low level aerobatics in his Spitfire he crashed on the airfield and was killed.

Primary Sources

(1) Douglas Bader, Fight for the Sky (1974)

Flying Officer E. J. Kain shot down a Dornier 17 and then later in the month another one at the then record height for air combat at 27,000 feet. This young New Zealander, the first 'ace' of the war, continued to score successes steadily. Tragically and wastefully he died in June 1940 doing a victory roll over his home airfield.

(2) The Manchester Guardian (11th June, 1940)

Flying Officer E.J. ("Cobber") Kain, the distinguished New Zealand war pilot has been killed in a flying accident, it was learned in London yesterday.

Kain, who was twenty-two, was the first British airman to win distinction in France in the present war. He was awarded the D.F.C in March for his gallantry in attacking with another aircraft seven enemy bombers and chasing them into German territory. Previously "Cobber" had shot down five enemy machines, two Dornier bombers and three Messerschmitt fighters. When on leave in April he announced his engagement to Miss Joyce Phillips, a 23-year-old actress, who was then appearing at the Repertory Theatre Peterbrough. They had hoped to be married in July, and his mother and sister had planned to be present at the wedding.

Miss Phillips has been staying at her home at Rose Farm, Great Millington, near Chester, preparing for her wedding.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Fraser, paid this tribute yesterday to Kain: "His record will inspire his fellow-countrymen in the Air Force and all those waiting to go to the battlefront.