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Leonard Henry Trent

Squadron-Leader Leonard H Trent DFC (& later VC) of Nelson, 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19430825-20-9'

Squadron-Leader Leonard H Trent DFC (& later VC) of Nelson, 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Au …


  • Title
  • Forenames
    Leonard Henry AWMM
  • Surname
    Trent AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
    • Henry Leonard Trent AWMM
    • Len AWMM
  • Service number
    • 36146 AWMM
    • NZ2481 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    14 April 1915 AWMM AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
  • Relationship status


Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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  • Medals and Awards
    • Victoria Cross (VC) AWMM
      Victoria Cross. [ The London Gazette of 1 March 1946 (pdf)] records the following:- " On 3 May 1943, Squadron Leader Trent was detailed to lead a formation of Ventura aircraft in a daylight attack on the power station at Amsterdam. This operation was intended to encourage the Dutch workmen in their resistance to enemy pressure and the target was known to be heavily defended. The importance of bombing it, regardless of enemy fighters or anti-aircraft fire, was strongly impressed on the aircrews taking part in the operation. Before taking off Squadron Leader Trent told the deputy leader that he was going over the target whatever happened. All went well until the eleven Venturas and their fighter escort were nearing the Dutch Coast. Then one bomber was hit and had to turn back. Suddenly large numbers of enemy fighters appeared. Our escorting fighters were hotly engaged and lost touch with the bombing force. The Venturas closed up for mutual protection and commenced their run up to the target. Unfortunately the fighters detailed to support them over the target had reached the area too early and had been recalled. Soon the bombers were attacked. They were at the mercy of fifteen to twenty Messerschmitts which dived on them incessantly. Within four minutes six Venturas were destroyed. Squadron Leader Trent continued on his course with the remaining three aircraft, and in a short time two more Venturas went down in flames. Heedless of the murderous attacks and of the heavy anti-aircraft fire which was now encountered, Squadron Leader Trent completed an accurate bombing run, and even shot down a Messerschmitt at point blank range. Dropping his bombs in the target area he turned away. The aircraft following him was shot down on reaching the target. Immediately afterwards his own aircraft was hit and went into a spin and broke up. Squadron Leader Trent and his navigator were thrown clear and became prisoners of war. The two other members of the crew perished. On this, his twenty-fourth sortie, Squadron Leader Trent showed outstanding leadership. Such was the trust placed in this gallant officer that the other pilots followed him unwaveringly. His cool unflinching courage and devotion to duty in the face of overwhelming odds rank with the fine examples of these virtues" AWMM
    • Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) AWMM
      DFC. July 1940, Battle of Flanders AWMM

Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment


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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
    WW2 POW - Stalag Luft III, Sagan and Belaria, Germany AWMM
    The Netherlands (Holland), Europe AWMM
    3 May 1943 AWMM
    Shot down during a daylight attack by Ventura bombers on the power station at Amsterdam, Holland AWMM
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
    WW2 2 May 1945 AWMM Liberated by the British AWMM
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes

Last known rank

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Biographical information

Biographical information

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    • Leonard Trent was the son of Leonard Noel Trent and Irene Violet Everett; husband of Ursula Elizabeth nee Woolhouse, father of three: Christine, Tim, Judith.

      He took part in the mass prisoner escape from Stalag Luft III by tunnel on the night of 24-25 March 1944 (The Great Escape)

      Member of the RNZAF Contingent, in the Victory Parade, London 8 June 1946

      He held a permanent commission with the Royal Air Force from 1 November 1947 - 23 June 1965

      Posted as British Air Attache, Washington, United States of America

      His ashes are buried with the remains of his wife Ursula and daughter Judith.

      Birth name registered as Henry Leonard Trent. Victoria Cross held by the Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum, Wigram, Christchurch AWMM

    • Group Captain Leonard Trent VC & Squadron Leader Ian G. Richmond DFC were both nephews of Gunner Roy Edward Everett (MM) - who served with the New Zealand Field Artillery NZEF from 1915 to 1919 - in World War 1. Gunner Everett received the Military Medal (MM) at Passchendaele, Belgium on 12 October 1917. Public - Jenifer - Other relative - 31 July 2017 - Family
    • Brother-in-Law of Flying Officer William J.L. Lauchlan : RNZAF - Service # NZ391361, 3 Squadron. Flying Officer Lauchlan was killed on active service - 16 October 1942 - Vanuatu, Pacific. William was the husband of Leonard Trent's sister Iredale. Public - Jenifer - Researcher - 19 August 2017 - Military profile of Flying Officer William J.L. Lauchlan : Auckland Cenotaph.
    • Leonard Trent was an Old Boy of Nelson College. Also at Nelson College was his 1st cousin (later Squadron Leader) Ian Richmond DFC. Public - Jenifer - Researcher - 2 May 2018 - Nelson College Old Boy Association, Nelson, New Zealand.
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About death

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  • Death
    19 May 1986 AWMM
    Age 71 AWMM
    TakapunaNorth Shore City AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
    Fremantle Cemetery, Carrington Street, near the corner of Leach Highway, Palmyra, Freemantle, Western Australia AWMM Ground niche, Crematorium G, Garden 8, 0032 AWMM
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
    Group Captain L H Trent VC Memorial Cairn - at Nelson Airport, New Zealand. Public - Jenifer - Other relative - 20 July 2017 - Family.
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name
    • Memorial street name: Trent Drive, Nelson, New Zealand AWMM
    • Dunedin, Victoria Cross winners' plaque, Queens Gardens, Dunedin, New Zealand AWMM

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    Langlois has affirmed,twice a two tug call
    Shand lying ahead ghostly we stall
    On the lip of the mouth;I await the Jerry ghoul.
    Trudging forward I cannot stay,Mick bolts for the pines away!
    Point blank,I rest stiffened gamely prey.
    We line now by three helplessly;Mc Bride on a rung perilously
    "Von Lindeiner" reviles amidst chaos degree.
    The escape is thwarted,we remain spiritedly undaunted
    As I Len Trent homage those fifty vaunted!
    The storm has passed,the calm is fair
    Twenty six "survive" our comrades dear!
    The war now ended,this eighth day forty five
    Homeward my New Zealand "May" I say,lucky alive.
    Remembered the airmen,for the freedom they strived!

    Copyright:N.J.Deller 18/11/16 "73 years prominent our actions revered"
    Public - Nathan John - 18 August 2017



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Command item
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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
26 April 2020JeniferWairarapaOther relative
18 August 2017Nathan JohnHettstedt GermanyOther
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