Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

 

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Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham

 


Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham in full dress uniformAir Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-PophamH R M Brooke-Popham - 1911Henry Robert Moore    

b: 18 Sep 1878                   

r: 6 Mar 1937                       

d: 20 Oct 1953

GCVO - 26 Jul 1935 [6 Jul 1935], KCB - 13 Jun 1927 (CB - 3 Jun 1919), CMG 31 Jan 1919, DSO - 23 Jun 1915, AFC - 1 Jan 1919, K St J - 22 Jun 1937, FRAeS, MiD - 22 Jun 1915, MiD - 15 Jun 1916, MiD - 4 Jan 1917, MiD - 20 May 1918, LoH, O - 3 Nov 1914, SS2 - 14 Apr 1916.

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(Army): - 2 Lt:  7 May 1898, Lt: 24 Nov 1899, Capt: 9 Nov 1904, (T) Maj:  20 May 1912, Bt Maj:  3 Jun 1913, (T) Lt Col: 20 Nov 1914, Maj: 1 Sep 1915, (T) Brig-Gen: 12 Mar 1916, Bt Col: 3 Jun 1918.

(RAF): - (T) Brig-Gen [Lt Col]: 1 Apr 1918, Col: 1 Apr 1918, Act Brig-Gen: 1 May 1919, Gp Capt: 1 Aug 1919 [1 Apr 1918], A/Cdre: 1 Aug 1919, AVM: 1 Jan 1924, AM: 1 Jan 1931, ACM: 1 Jan 1935.

Photos - courtesy of Wg Cdr C G Jefford

xx xxx xxxx:                Attended RMC Sandhurst.

 7 May 1898:                Officer, Oxfordshire (and Buckinghamshire) Light Infantry.

26 Apr 1902:                Seconded for service in South Africa

xx xxx 1910:                Attended Army Staff College, Camberley.

xx Mar 1912:                Pilot, Air Battalion.

xx Apr 1912:                Officer Commanding, Aeroplane Company - Air Battalion.

13 May 1912.              Seconded for duty with the RFC.

13 May 1912:              Officer Commanding, No 3 Sqn RFC.

25 Aug 1914:               Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster-General, HQ RFC in France.  

20 Nov 1914:              Officer Commanding, No 3 Wing RFC.

26 May 1915:              Chief Staff Officer, HQ RFC in France.

12 Mar 1916:               Deputy Adjutant & Quartermaster-General, HQ RFC in France.  

 9 Oct 1917:                 Deputy Quartermaster-General, HQ RFC in France.

 1 Apr 1918:                 Deputy Quartermaster-General, HQ RAF in the Field.

xx Apr 1918:                Controller of Aircraft Production

xx xxx 1919:                 Director of Research.

 1 Aug 1919:                Awarded Permanent Commission as a Colonel (gazetted 22 Aug 1919)

14 Nov 1921:               Supernumerary, HQ Inland Area (tasked with formation of RAF Staff College)

 1 Apr 1922:                Commandant, RAF Staff College.

20 May 1926:              AOC, Fighting Area - ADGB.

 1 Nov 1928:               AOC, Iraq Command.

18 Oct 1930:                Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

19 Jan 1931:                 Commandant, Imperial Defence College.

30 Mar 1933:               AOC in C, Air Defence of Great Britain.

 1 Dec 1933:                 Appointed Principal ADC to The King

 1 Aug 1935:                 Inspector-General of the RAF.

xx xxx 1935:                 AOC in C, RAF Middle East.

xx xxx 1937:                Governor & C in C, Kenya.

xx xxx 1939:                Head of RAF Training Mission - Canada.

xx xxx 1940:                Head of RAF Training Mission - South Africa.

18 Nov 1940:              C in C, Far East Command

xx xxx 1942:              Inspector-General of the Air Training Corps

His family name was Brooke, but he added the 'Popham' on 6 May 1904 by Royal Warrant in memory of a much admired ancestor.  He was educated at Haileybury and Sandhurst, being commissioned in 1898 and shortly afterwards, fighting in the South African War during 1899-1900, serving in the Orange Free State, Transvaal, Orange River Colony and Cape Colony.  Attached to the Air Battalion during the manoeuvres of 1911 he decided to learn to fly, gaining RAeC Certificate No 108 on 18 July 1911.  He was the first Commandant of both the RAF Staff College at Andover and the Imperial Defence College.  As AOC, Fighting Area as which he was in command of the whole air defence of the UK and established a chain of acoustic listening stations around the country well before the introduction of Radar.   Fortunately his objections to fighters with enclosed cockpits and armed with eight machine guns did not find favour.  He retired at his own request and for two years held the appointment of Governor of Kenya.

As C in C, Far East, he spent thirteen months desperately trying to build up the defences of the region. But unfortunately for him the decisions effecting the defence of Singapore had been taken long before his appointment and with the resources available there was little he could do to stop the Japanese advance in December 1941.  From 1944 until 1946 he was President of the NAAFI Council and also acted as Inspector-General of the ATC (19?-?)

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