Air Force Cross : Squadron Leader A A N D Pentland, Royal Australian Air Force
|Title||Air Force Cross : Squadron Leader A A N D Pentland, Royal Australian Air Force|
|Date made||c 1946|
|On display||Anzac Hall: Over the Front: Sandy & Hughes Case 29 (H-SC2)|
Air Force Cross with original presentation case. Engraved on reverse with year of award.
Alexander Augustus Norman Dudley Pentland, known as Jerry, was born on 5 August 1894. At age 20 he enlisted in the AIF as a trooper with the 12th Light Horse Regiment in March 1915 and was assigned the service number 674. In August he was deployed to Gallipoli where he served with the 1st Light Horse Regiment as a machine gunner. After contracting enteric fever in September he was evacuated to England for treatment. Upon recovering, Pentland was appointed to a commission in the British Royal Flying Corps in February 1916. He served with 16, 19, 29 and 87 Squadrons flying SPADs and Sopwith Dolphins. His service included both operational tours and instructor duties. By the end of the war Pentland had been awarded the Military Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross and was one of Australia's most successful flying aces, scoring 23 victories. Pentland returned to Australia after the war and served briefly with the newly formed Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) before moving to England and joining the Royal Air Force as a machine gun and fighting instructor. Pentland returned to Australia in 1926 and became a civilian pilot, flying in Australia and New Guinea. He rejoined the RAAF during the Second World War, initially instructing at elementary flying schools before commanding an air-sea rescue and communication unit in the Pacific for which he was awarded the Air Force Cross. The citation reads 'Squadron Leader PENTLAND joined the R.A.A.F. on 17th Jun, 1940, and served as a flying instructor for two years. In June, 1942, he was posted to No. 1 Communication Flight and later to Rescue and Communication Squadron. He was appointed to command No. 3 Communication Unit in November, 1943, and No. 8 Communication Unit in February, 1944. In June, 1942, he carried out the rescue of seven American personnel who had crashed in the Upper Ramu Valley. He also rescued several civilians and A.I.F. personnel who had escaped from Rabaul, and later again rescued some American personnel who had crashed at Dedele Point. In July and early August, 1942, Squadron Leader PENTLAND carried out and extensive survey of all beaches between Daru and Milne Bay in order to establish emergency landing grounds, and all suitable beaches thus discovered were then notified to all Allied air units operating in the area. A base with a small store of petrol and wireless communication was established on the beach at Kerema, and this was used as an emergency landing ground in bad weather by aircraft of all descriptions. He personally surveyed three disused civil airstrips in North-West Papua and British New Guinea, and arranged with the local ANGAU [Australian New Guinea Administration Unit] and natives for their clearing, draining and maintenance, and also for three new strips between Port Moresby and Milne Bay. Squadron Leader PENTLAND flew approximately 200 hours in Moth and D.H.84 aircraft while carrying out this important work which resulted in the saving of many valuable aircraft and crews. Squadron Leader PENTLAND has, at all times, displayed outstanding courage, initiative and skill, and these qualities, together with his excellent knowledge of New Guinea and its climatic conditions, have made his services invaluable, not only to the R.A.A.F., but to the U.S. Army Air Forces and the New Guinea Forces as well.'. He was discharged from the RAAF with the rank of squadron leader on 2 November 1945.