5-Nazi 'Cobber' was only turned down by RAF



5-Nazi 'Cobber' was only turned down by RAF


Newspaper cutting account of Flying Officer E J Kain a New Zealander turned down on his first attempt to join the RAF. He had now been shot down twice but himself shot down two Dornier and three Messerschmitt. Includes photograph.

Spatial Coverage




One newspaper cutting mounted on an album page



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Grew too fast for the R.A.F.

Came from New Zealand at 19 to Join

You’ve read of “Cobber,” the R.A.F. pilot, who has shot down five German ‘planes over the Western Front?
His name and the story of his career were revealed yesterday, the day after he had brought down two of his “bag” of five in a day of Western Front dog-fights.
He is Flying Officer E.J. Kain, 6ft. tall, aged 21, from Auckland, New Zealand, air-mad since he was ten.
Two years ago he came to London determined to join the R.A.F. But on the first attempt they turned him down. He was “outgrowing his strength.”
He persisted. Three months later he was accepted. To-day his name is cheered in every R.A.F. mess and repeated with grim significance by many Nazi flyers.
Twice he himself has been shot down. His “bag” includes two Dorniers and three Messerschmitts. Here Noel Monks, “Daily Mail” Correspondent with the British Air Forces in France, tells of six war months in “Cobber’s” career.


From NOEL MONKS, Daily Mail Special Correspondent
With the British Air Force in France,

WHEN I first visited “Cobber’s” squadron six months ago the commanding officer said to me, pointing to “Cobber’s” tent beside a Hurricane fighter, “There’s a young chap to keep an eye on. He’s a sure winner. You’ll be hearing and writing a lot about him.”
At that time the squadron hadn’t even been in action. Yet already this young giant of a New Zealander with the devil-may-care air and the bronzed face of the outposts of Empire was pointed out as a wizard.
To-day he is the first man in the R.A.F. to have shot down five planes in combat – two of them in one action.

[underlined] HE’S HARD AS NAILS ALL OVER [/underlined]
Five more and he’ll qualify technically, for the title “Ace,” though already they speak of him as Britain’s First Air Ace of the war.
I have kept my eye on “Cobber.” I have got to know him. I know him as a man hard as nails all over but with a heart of gold. His name is Australian slang out here for “pal.”
I stood beside “Cobber” the day he shot down his first Dornier bomber. It lay in a hundred pieces at our feet and the bodies of the three Nazi airmen who had been its crew were pulverised.
At the time the squadron hadn’t even been in action, yet this young giant of a New Zealander was pointed out to me as a wizard.
I kept my eye on “Cobber.” I got to know him. I stood beside him the day he shot down his first Dornier bomber. It lay in a hundred pieces at our feet, and the bodies of the three Nazi airmen who had been its crew were pulverised.
“Cobber’s” face was white, and his voice shook a little as he said: “Well, it was either them or me.” He went back to his billet and turned in.
Then “Cobber” got another Dornier, and I was out to see him again. He made no comment this time.

[underlined] HE JUST ESCAPED WITH HIS LIFE [/underlined]
Three weeks ago “Cobber” got his third ‘plane – a Messerschmitt. This time he was shot down himself and just escaped with his life.
But he was unmoved when I spoke with him only a few hours later. I wrote in my diary: “If ever there was a born air ace, it is ‘Cobber.’”
And then, on Tuesday, “Cobber” got two more Messerschmitts and was again shot down.
There was an anxious hour or two after his squadron left when he did not show up with the other six pilots who had fought it out with the Nazis with such success.

[underlined] WOULDN’T FLY WITHOUT CHARM [/underlined]
But a ‘phone call from a village miles away near where “Cobber” had landed by parachute put things right.
That morning he had got up from his sick bed to do his day’s patrol.
This giant New Zealander doesn’t like the publicity that his prowess against the Nazis has thrust upon him. But it hasn’t made any difference: he is still “Cobber” to everyone.
Round his neck he carries a charm, a Maori god given to him by his sister before he left New Zealand

Mother Says, ‘I Do Hope He Will Be Careful’
Auckland, New Zealand, Thursday.

“COBBER’S” mother is very proud of her “air-mad” son, but she “hopes he will be careful.”
When Mrs. Kain heard of Tuesday’s exploit, when he shot down two Messerschmitts before he parachuted to safety over the Maginot Line, when his own machine was shot down, she said:
“It’s great news, but it’s hard to forget the risks he is taking.
“Ever since he was ten he has been air-mad, and I know he is thoroughly enjoying himself. “Here in New Zealand he is nicknamed ‘Hurricane’ because of his dash and recklessness. As he flies Hawker ‘Hurricane’ fighters I suppose they changed it to ‘Cobber,’ the usual nickname for New Zealanders.”
Mrs. Kain gets a letter by every mail from her son.
“He never writes about the war, but his letters are always full of descriptions of Paris fashions which he knows I like.
“He seems impressed with Paris, and his letters are full of the beauties of that city when he has been there on leave.
“There is no sweetheart in New Zealand and he hasn’t mentioned a girl in any of his letters. Flying is his life.”
Flying Officer Kain was mentioned in despatches in February.



“5-Nazi 'Cobber' was only turned down by RAF,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 17, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/25373.

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