Lent, Helmut, born on 13-06-1918 in Pyrehne, Brandenburg, and christened Helmut Johannes Siegfried Lent. He was the fifth child of Johannes Lent, a Lutheran minister and Marie Elisabeth, born Braune. Helmut Lent had two older brothers, Werner and Joachim, and two older sisters, Käthe and Ursula. His family was deeply religious; in addition to his father, both of his brothers and both grandfathers were also Lutheran ministers. Born into a devoutly religious family, he showed an early passion for glider flying; against his father’s wishes, he joined the Luftwaffe in 1936. Lent logged his first solo flight on 15-09-1936 in a Focke-Wulf Fw 44 Stieglitz. By this time, Lent had accumulated 63 flights in his logbook. In conjunction with flight training, the students also learned to drive motorcycles and cars and during one of these training exercises, Lent was involved in a road accident, breaking his upper leg badly enough to prevent him from flying for five months. After completing his training, he was assigned to the 1. Squadron, or Staffel, of Zerstörergeschwader 76, under command of Generalmajor Walter Grabmann , a wing flying the Messerschmitt Bf 110 twin-engine heavy fighter. Walter Grabmann died in Munich on 20-08-1992, age 86. Lent claimed his first aerial victories at the outset of World War II in the invasion of Poland and over the North Sea. During the invasion of Norway he flew ground support missions before he was transferred to the newly established Nachtjagdgeschwader 1, a night-fighter wing. Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1) was a German Luftwaffe night fighter wing. Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 was formed on 22-06-1940 in Monchegladbach. By the end of the war it was the most successful night fighter unit and had claimed some 2.311 victories by day and night, for some 676 aircrew killed in action. Lent claimed his first nocturnal victory on 12-05-1941 and on 30-08-1941 was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross for 22 victories, by General der Flieger, Chef Kommandeur der Luftwaffe, Jozef Kammhuber
One of Lent’s victims was F/Sgt Thomas Fetherston from 102 Squadron Halifax bombers, nicknamed “Ceylon”
20 years old on 09-11-1942. Lent’s report placed the crash-site as being over the sea, 40 kilometers west of Wijk aan Zee. Another plane, the No 103 Squadron Wellington Ic, R 1379, a team which was involved in sinking the “Scharnhorst “cruiser. On 24-07-1941, Lent’s 76 victory. he shot down the plane over Oosterwierum, west of Leeuwarden, Netherlands.
Lent was appointed Kommodore of Nagdgeschwader 3, based at Stade, on 01-08-1943. He was wounded in combat with a Stirling on the night of 2/3 October. While he shot down the bomber he sustained a serious wound to his hand and superficial injuries to his face. His injuries kept him from combat duty until November. In January 1944, Lent downed three so-called “heavies”—four-engined strategic bombers—in one night, but his aircraft was damaged by return fire, requiring a forced landing. He used only 22 cannon shells to down two bombers on the night of the 22–23 March 1944, and fired only 57 rounds in seven minutes against three Avro Lancasters on 15–16 June. Promoted to Oberstleutnant , he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds in recognition of his 110 confirmed air kills, the first of two night-fighter pilots to be awarded the decoration.The second was Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, who, with 121 aerial victories, became aviation history’s leading night-fighter pilot. The last officially announced number for the Oak Leaves was 843.
Lippe Weissenfeld, Helmut Lent, Goering, Fritz Hermann, Maurer.
All German officers were required to obtain official permission to marry; however, this was usually a bureaucratic formality. When Lent decided to marry Elizabeth Petersen, his admirer from Hamburg whom he had met on a blind date, his case was more complicated. ‘Elisabeth Petersen’ was in fact Helene (Lena) Senokosnikova, born in Moscow in April 1914. She had been afraid to reveal her true identity, since Russians were not popular in the Third Reich, but after a thorough investigation into her background and racial ancestry, she received her German citizenship on 15-03-1941. They were married on 10-09-1941 in Wellingsbüttel, Hamburg. The marriage produced two daughters. Christina was born on 06-06-1942; the second, Helma, was born on 06-10-1944, shortly after her father’s fatal crash. Both of Helmut’s older brothers, Joachim and Werner, as members of the Confessing Church encountered trouble with the Nazi party. The Confessing Church, led by Pastor Martin Niemöller
, was a schismatic Protestant church which opposed the Reich’s efforts to “Nazify” Germany’s Protestant churches. Niemöller was imprisoned in the concentration camp Sachsenhausen, but survived the war. He died old age 92, on 06-03-1985, in Wiesbaden. It stood in outspoken opposition to National Socialist principles, particularly those embodied in the Aryan Paragraph. Through the Barmen Declaration, the church condemned the national German Evangelical Church as heretical. Werner Lent, an adherent to the Confessing church, was arrested for the first time in 1937 after preaching an anti-Nazi sermon. In June 1942, his brother Joachim was arrested by the Gestapo after reading the so-called Mölders letter from the pulpit. The Mölders letter was a propaganda piece conceived by Sefton Delmer who die age 75, on 04-09-1979, in Essex , the chief of the British black propaganda in the Political Warfare Executive (PWE) to capitalize on the death of Germany’s fighter ace General der Flieger, Kommodore Jagd Geschwader 51, Werner “Vatti” Mölders
; this letter, ostensibly written by Mölders, attested to the supreme importance of his Catholic faith in his life—by implication, placing faith above his allegiance to the National Socialist Party. Lent steady accumulation of aerial victories resulted in regular promotions and awards. On the night of 15-06-1944, Major Lent was the first night fighter pilot to claim 100 nocturnal aerial victories, a feat which earned him the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, by Hermann Goering (did you know), on 31-07-1944.
Death and burial ground of Lent, Helmut Johannes Siegfried.
On 05-10-1944, Lent flew a Junkers Ju 88 on a routine transit flight from Stade to Nordborchen, 5 kilometres south of Paderborn. Lent was on his way to visit the Geschwaderkommodore of the Nachtjagdgeschwader 1, Oberstleutnant Hans-Joachim Jabs, to discuss operational matters. During the landing approach, the left engine of the plane failed, causing the wing to dip and Lent was unable to keep the plane steady and it struck high-voltage cables and the plane collided with power lines. All four members of the crew were mortally injured. All four members of the crew sustained serious injuries but were rescued alive. Kubisch and Klöss succumbed to their injuries on the same day, Kark on the next morning and Lent succumbed to his injuries two days later on 07-10-1944, age 26 in a hospital in Padeborn. Lent received a posthumous promotion to the rank of Oberst.
Helmut Lent’s state funeral was held in the Reich Chancellery, Berlin, on Wednesday 11-10-1944. Reichsmarschall Herman Goering took the salute at Lent’s coffin, which was draped in the national flag of the Third Reich. Ahead of the coffin, carrying Lent’s honours and decorations on a velvet cushion, marched Oberstleutnant Werner Streib, the Inspector of Night Fighters. Six steel-helmeted officers, all recipients of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, escorted the coffin on its caisson and stood as guard of honor during the ceremony: Oberstleutnant Günther Radusch , Oberstleutnant Hans-Joachim Jabs , Major Rudolf Schoenert , Hauptmann Heinz Strüning , Hauptmann Karl Hadeball and Hauptmann Paul Zorner . On 12-10-1944 Lent and his crew were interred in a single grave in the military cemetery at Stade.
Most of the guard of honor survived the war but Heinz Strüning was shot over Cologne. He bailed out but struck the tail of his plane and fell to his death. His body was found two months after his death, age 32 on 24-12-1944. Günther Radisch died age 75 on 29-07-1988, Hans Joachim Jabs died old age 85 on 26-10-2003, Rudolf Schoenert died age 74 on 30-11-1985 and Paul Zorner died old age 93 on 27-01-2014.
His crew included his long-time radio operator Oberfeldwebel Walter Kubisch, age 26
the war correspondent Leutnant Werner Kark in the aerial gunner position, and Oberleutnant Hermann Klöss, second radio operator. Helmut Lent is buried on the Alter Garnisonfriedhof in Stade, next to his comrades.
Cemetery and grave location of Lent, Helmut Johannes Siegfried.