Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Vice-Marshal Sir Alan Boxer (41545)

Sir Alan Hunter Cachemaille BoxerAlan Hunter Cachemaille            b: 1 Dec 1916                     r: 18 Jul 1970                       d: 26 Apr 1998

KCVO – 13 Jun 1970, CB – 1 Jan 1968, DSO – 23 Mar 1945, DFC – 26 March 1943, VM (SC) – 21 Jan 1944, BSM – 25 May 1951, AM (US) – 25 May 1951.  

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(RAFVR): Act Plt Off (P): 14 Jan 1939, Plt Off (P): 3 Sep 1939, Plt Off: 31 Oct 1939, Fg Off: 3 Sep 1940, Flt Lt (WS): 3 Sep 1941, Act Sqn Ldr: xx xxx xxxx, Act Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1943?, (T) Sqn Ldr: 18 Dec 1943, Sqn Ldr (WS): 1 Jan 1944, (T) Sqn Ldr: 3 Dec 1946 [1 Jul 1944],

(RAF): Sqn Ldr: 26 Mar 1946 [1 Sep 1945], Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1952, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1958, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1962, Act AVM: 28 May 1965, AVM: 1 Jul 1966.

Sir Alan Hunter Cachemaille Boxer

by Godfrey Argent
bromide print, 30 October 1969
NPG x165414

© National Portrait Gallery, London


14 Jan 1939:            Initial Officer Training, RAF Depot?

xx xxx 1939:            U/T Pilot, No ? FTS.

xx xxx 1940:            QFI, Flying Training Command.

xx xxx 1942:            Pilot/Flight Commander, No 161 Sqn.

31 Oct 1942:           Transferred to RAFO and called up for service

xx xxx xxxx:             Flight Commander, No 138 Sqn

xx xxx 1943:            Officer Commanding, No 161 Sqn.

30 Aug 1943:           Officer Commanding, RAF Stanton Harcourt (2 Flights of No 10 OTU)

18 Sep 1943:            Head, AI 2 (c), Directorate of Intelligence (Research).

 1 Feb 1945:            Air Staff, HQ Bomber Command.

 9 Aug 1945:            Attended Course No 15, RAF Staff College (Overseas), Haifa.

26 Mar 1946:          Appointed to a Permanent Commission in the rank of Squadron Leader (retaining rank current at the time) [wef 1 Sep 1945]

31 Mar 1946:           Staff, Directorate of Intelligence (Operations). (Cabinet Offices)

xx xxx 1948:            Attended Army Staff College, Haifa.

xx xxx 1949:            Exchange posting - USAF

xx xxx 1952:            Staff, Central Fighter Establishment.

xx xxx 1954:            Directing Staff, RAF Staff College.

 1 Nov 1956:           Officer Commanding, No 7 Sqn.

21 Oct 1957:           Officer Commanding, RAF Wittering.

25 Nov 1959:          Group Captain - Plans, HQ Bomber Command.

xx Jan 1962:             Attended Imperial Defence College.

18 Mar 1963:           SASO, HQ No 1 Group.

28 May 1965:           SASO, HQ Bomber Command.

10 Nov 1967:           Defence Services Secretary.

A New Zealander he took a series of short-term jobs in order to help the family finances, he father having died when he was nine, whilst managing to take flying lessons in his spare time.  With war clouds looming over Europe he decided to leave New Zealand in 1938 and join the RAF.  Having already amassed 175 hours he found himself posted as a instructor following his service flying training.  He remained in Training Command for two years, but eventually in 1942 he was posted to an operational unit, No 161 Squadron at Tempsford.  Here he commanded the Hudson Flight  and was involved in the delivery and collection of SOE Agents from occupied France, although many of his missions were long ranging to Scandinavia and Poland often lasting 13 hours.  A spell as a staff officer at the Air ministry co-ordinating SOE flights was followed by a return to 161, this time as CO.

After the war he attended both the RAF Staff College and the Army College at Haifa before being given an exchange posting with the USAF.  Here he flew B29’s on the West Coast of America including a six-month tour of duty taking part in operations during the Korean War.  Following his return from the USA he spent a year at the Central Fighter Establishment before being appointed to the directing staff of the RAF Staff College.

After the Staff College he was tasked with reforming No 7 Squadron as a Valiant unit.  Although the squadron officially reformed on 1 November 1956 at Honington, it was the end of the month before he was able to collect the first of its aircraft from the Vickers factory at Wisley.  One of the tasks he performed with 7 Squadron was the transporting of an ‘H’ bomb to Christmas Island for the forthcoming tests.  This necessitated him landing in the USA to re-fuel without being able to divulge the nature of his payload.  Promotion to Group Captain brought command of the Victor base at Wittering.  A staff post at HQ Bomber Command and attendance at the Imperial Defence College was followed by two SASO posts. The first at HQ No 1 Group and the second as the last person to hold the post at Bomber Command before it was amalgamated with Fighter Command to form Strike Command.

In 1967 he became the first RAF officer to hold the post of Defence Services Secretary, which involved liaising between the Ministry of Defence and Buckingham Palace.  As such he was heavily involved with the Prince of Wales’s investiture at Caernarfon in 1969.  Retiring in 1970 he spent a brief period working as a planning inspector with the Department of the Environment but soon became despondent with the Civil Service and left to concentrate on his other two great passions sailing and conservation.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

“Acting Squadron Leader Alan Hunter Cachemaille BOXER (41545), No.138 Squadron.

Within the last 2 months, Squadron Leader Boxer has successfully completed several long-range sorties.  On one of them, when some hundreds of miles from base, one engine of his aircraft failed.  Despite this, he succeeded in flying the bomber home.  Some time later, he completed the return flight from a distant target in similar circumstances.  He is a most reliable and determined pilot.”

(London Gazette – 26 March 1943)

This page was last updated on 04/07/22

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