Arthur Dean Nesbitt OBE DFC was born in Montreal, son of Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Nesbitt and was educated at McGill. In 1933, he began flying Tiger Moth and Fleet Finch airplanes with the Montreal Light Aeroplane Club and in 1936 was judged the most competent pilot in the club and awarded the James Lytell Memorial Trophy. In that same year he was awarded his private pilotís licence.
In August 1939, he joined No. 115 Auxiliary Squadron and in September went to Camp Borden for a course in advanced flying after which he returned to Montreal. He was commissioned on September 15th and on the 19th began flying at St. Hubert airport, south of Montreal. He was subsequently posted to No. 1 Squadron at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. On June 10, 1940, the squadron proceeded overseas on the Dutchess of Atholl ocean liner.
France had surrendered to Germany before the squadron landed in the UK. It was first posted to the RAF Station at Middle Wallop and then to Croydon and finally to Northolt where it remained throughout the Battle of Britain.
During the Battle of Britain in August and September, large German bomber formations attacked as many as five times a day. In the early part of the battle, the attacks concentrated on RAF Fighter Stations around and south of London. As the German losses increased due to the highly efficient British use of radar to direct the small defensive force of Allied fighters, the German air force stepped up the attacks to a climax on September 15, 1940.
That day proved to be the greatest engagement of the Battle of Britain. Large formations of German bombers escorted by Me 109s and HE 113s came in waves to attack London, starting at about 9.00 am. In the second action that day, Nesbitt attacked an ME 109 which he destroyed but as he was doing so he was shot down by another ME 109. Although he succeeded in bailing out he was injured by the tailplane of his own aircraft and spent 10 days recovering in a British military hospital at Turnbridge Wells.
On October 7th, 1940, the engine on Nesbittís plane was shot up but he managed to land his plane with a dead engine, at Biggin Hill a well known RAF fighter station. In the Battle of Britain, Nesbitt was credited with damaging one enemy aircraft and destroying two.
In December 1940, Nesbitt became commander of "A" Flight which he led on coastal patrols, convoy protection and fighter sweeps over northern France. He became Commanding Officer of the squadron in April, 1941. In September he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and posted back to Canada.
In November 1941 Group Captain Nesbitt was appointed Commanding Officer of No. 111 Squadron in the Aleutian Islands and remained with this unit flying Kittyhawks until June 1942. He was then posted to RCAF Headquarters in Ottawa and in late 1943 became Commanding Officer of No. 6 Service Flying Training School at Dunnville, Ontario.
In March 1944 he was recalled to the UK and given command of No. 144 Spitfire Wing which he took to Normandy on D-Day, June 6th. He served in other command posts until the end of WW2, when he retired from the RCAF and was placed on the reserve list.
Besides receiving the DFC he was named an Officer of the Order of the British empire (OBE). France awarded him the Croix de Guerre with Silver Star and Holland named him a Commander of the Orange Order of Nassau. Postwar, Nesbitt returned to Canada where entered the family investment firm Nesbitt Thomson & Co. and held the presidency for 25 years.
He married Shirley MacMaster of Montreal and they had one son. He died in February 1978 in Montreal.