Sir Gerard Edward James Gent KCMG DSO OBE MC (28 October 1895 – 4 July 1948) was the first appointed Governor of the Malayan Union in 1946. He was most famous for heading early British attempts to crush a pro-independence uprising in Malaya led by the Malayan Communist Party during the Malayan Emergency, before dying during the first year of the war in an aviation accident.

Edward Gent
Sir edward gent.jpg
High Commissioner for Malaya
In office
1 February 1948 – 4 July 1948
Succeeded bySir Henry Gurney
Governor of the Malayan Union
In office
1 April 1946 – 30 January 1948
Personal details
Gerard Edward James Gent

28 October 1895
Kingston, UK
Died4 July 1948 (age 52)
Ruislip, Middlesex, UK
Spouse(s)Guendolen Mary Wyeth
Alma materTrinity College, Oxford


Gent was born in 1895 was the son of John Gent (1844–1927) and Harriet Frankland Randall. His original name was Gerard Edward James Gent, but he changed it to Edward James Gent, the reasons for which were unknown. He was educated at The King's School, Canterbury, and Trinity College, Oxford.

Gent married Guendolen Mary Wyeth in 1923, and they had four children, Marcus James Gent, Gerard Nicholas Gent, Ann Monica Gent and Janice Mary Gent.

Military careerEdit

Gent served with the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry in the First World War in Flanders and Italy. He was wounded twice and was awarded the Military Cross in 1917 and the Distinguished Service Order in 1919.

Diplomatic careerEdit

He was the first appointed Governor of the Malayan Union, Sir Edward also became the first Colonial Administrator to discuss openly to form a better government for the future of Malaya, where later the Federation of Malaya was established. He was an instrumental figure in the formation of the Malayan Union which was established on 1 April 1946 in Kuala Lumpur, and the first Governor of the Malayan Union.

When Malaysia achieved independence (Merdeka) from the United Kingdom, his widow Lady Gent, together with Lady Gurney, were invited to the ceremony as guests of honour.

Malayan EmergencyEdit

Signature of the Federation of Malaya Agreement, 1948, and the State Agreements, at King's House, Kuala Lumpur, on Wednesday 21 January 1948

Gent remained as the High Commissioner for Malaya when the Malayan Union was dissolved and replaced by the Federation of Malaya. But he did not remain at his post for long. He was sacked by the Colonial Office and recalled to London on 29 June 1948 at the onset of the Malayan Emergency after Malcolm MacDonald, the British Commissioner-General for Southeast Asia, lobbied Whitehall. Gent disbelieved the communists were of any threat and refused to act. When the communists first launched its attacks on Malayan rubber estates, Gent on 16 June declared emergency in parts of Perak and Johor only, much to the rubber planters' disappointment whom demanded for a nationwide declaration. Gent was only forced to widen the declaration to the whole of Malaya the next day when the Straits Times wrote "Govern or Get Out" on its front page and thus galvanising public sentiment against him.


Gent was returning to the United Kingdom in an Avro York transport aircraft of the Royal Air Force when it collided with a Douglas DC-6 of Scandinavian Airlines System near Northwood, north London, a week after he was recalled to London.

Government offices
Preceded by
Post created
Governor of the Malayan Union
Succeeded by
Post abolished
Preceded by British High Commissioner in Malaya
Succeeded by