The Airmen's Stories - P/O J R Kemp
John Richard Kemp, the son of a police inspector, was born in Napier, New Zealand on 14th August 1914. He was educated at Wellington College and afterwards employed as a clerk. In February 1938 he applied for an RAF short service commission and, after being provisionally accepted later in the year, he sailed for the UK in RMS Rangitata on 15th December. On 23rd January 1939 Kemp began his ab-initio training at 13 E&RFTS, White Waltham and on 15th April was posted to 13 FTS, Drem.
He joined the newly-reformed 141 Squadron at Grangemouth on 21st October. After a working-up period, the squadron became operational with Defiants on 3rd June 1940. With no operational experience, 141 flew south to West Malling on 12th July. Shortly after 09.00 hrs on the 19th twelve Defiants moved to the forward airfield at Hawkinge. At 12.23 hrs they were ordered off to carry out an offensive patrol twenty miles south of Folkestone. Three were left behind with engine trouble.
During the patrol the nine Defiants were surprised by Me109's of III/JG 51 and in less than a minute four were shot down into the sea, three in flames. One of these was Kemp's, L6974. He and his gunner, Sgt. R Crombie, were never seen again.
Their names appear on the reredos in St. George's Chapel of Remembrance at Biggin Hill. Kemp is also remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 8.
(Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner)