Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Vice Marshal S O Bufton (24184)

AVM S O BuftonSidney Osborne             b: 12 Jan 1908                r: 17 Oct 1961                     d: 29 Mar 1993

CB - 1 Jan 1945, DFC - 22 Nov 1940, LoM (Cdr) - 9 Oct 1945, ON(C)s - 18 Nov 1947, FRAeS – 1970, High Sheriff (Radnorshire) - 1967

Plt Off (P): 9 Dec 1927, Plt Off: 9 Dec 1928, Fg Off: 9 Jun 1929, Flt Lt: 1 Apr 1933, Sqn Ldr: 1 Oct 1937, (T) Wg Cdr: 1 Jun 1940, (T) Gp Capt: 1 Sep 1942, Act A/Cdre: 10 Mar 1943, Gp Capt (WS): 10 Sep 1943, Wg Cdr: 1 Dec 1943, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1946, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1948, Act AVM: 1 Sep 1952, AVM: 1 Jan 1953.

Photo courtesy - Maureen Teulier

 6 Jan 1928:            U/T Pilot, No 4 FTS.

 9 Dec 1928:           Pilot, No 100 Sqn.

xx xxx 1930:            Attended Central Flying School.

 5 Aug 1930:           QFI, No 5 FTS.

 5 Aug 1931:           Aircraft Engineering Course, Home Aircraft Depot.

 1 Sep 1932:            Granted a Permanent Commission in the rank of Flying Officer.

 8 Oct 1933:            Engineering Staff, Aircraft Depot, Iraq.


15 Sep 1936:          Staff Officer - T Tech, Directorate of Training.

23 Jan 1939:            Attended RAF Staff College.

xx xxx 1939:           Staff, Advanced Air Striking Force?

 1 Jul 1940:             Attended No 2 Course, No 19 OTU

 4 Jul 1940:             Attended No 10 OTU

21 Jul 1940:           Officer Commanding, No 10 Sqn. (Whitleys)

 3 Oct 1940:           Admitted to Catterick Hospital

 6 - 8 Nov 1940:    Officer Commanding, RAF Leeming (Temporary)

13 Mar 1941:         Officer Commanding, RAF Leeming/No 10 Sqn

12 Apr 1941:          Officer Commanding, RAF Leeming/No 76 Sqn. (Halifaxes)

19 Apr 1941:          Officer Commanding, No 76 Sqn. (Halifaxes)

xx Jun 1941:           Officer Commanding, RAF Pocklington.

14 Nov 1941:         Deputy Director of Bomber Operations.

10 Mar 1943:         Director of Bomber Operations.

 7 Jul 1945:           AOC, AHQ Egypt

xx xxx 1946:           Attended Imperial Defence College.

xx xxx 1947:           Commandant, Central Bomber Establishment.

xx xxx 1948:           Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations/Plans), HQ Air Forces Western Europe.

21 Jan 1951:           Director of Weapons.

1 Sep 1952:            AOA, HQ Bomber Command.

12 Oct 1953:          AOC, HQ British Forces Aden. (see photo above)

15 Oct 1955:          SASO, HQ Bomber Command.

1 Aug 1958:            Assistant Chief of Staff (Intelligence).

Sid Bufton was a bomber specialist.  Having commanded two bomber squadrons in the early part of WW2, one of them being the first to be equipped with the four engined Halifax, he joined the Directorate of Bomber Operations at the Air Ministry and remained there for the rest of the war in Europe.  His practical experience as an operational pilot, clearly brought home to him the problems being experienced by the average squadron pilot serving with Bomber Command at that time.  Long before he arrived at the Air Ministry, he had suggested the need to utilize the more experienced and skilled crews in locating and marking targets for the benefit of the majority.  As Deputy Director of Bomber Operations, he started to put his ideas forwards but any form of elite or specialized unit was anathema to Sir Arthur Harris, C in C Bomber Command.  However, as the poor results of Bomber Command's operations became more and more obvious, pressure on Harris built up to the point were he was forced into forming such a unit, initially called The Pathfinder Force, it was eventually raised to Group status as No 8 (Pathfinder) Group.

During his tenure at the Air Ministry, he was to often find himself  at odds with the C in C, who disliked what he considered to the be the interference of bureaucrats and he considered Bufton to be his prime antagonist.  But the formation of The Pathfinders was not Bufton's only achievement.  Before the war, he had been a Welsh International Hockey player (1931 - 37) as well as playing for the RAF and the Combined Services.     Retiring from the RAF, he joined Radionic Ltd as an inventor and later became Managing Director until 1970.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

BUFTON, Sydney Osborne, W/C (24184, Royal Air Force) - No.10 Squadron - Distinguished Flying Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 22 November 1940.

 "This officer acted as second pilot on two successful missions to Sergeant (now Flying Officer) Johnson DFM.  Since then, as a captain of aircraft, he has completed eight successful operational missions, as follows:

 5 August 1940 - The Dornier aircraft factory as Wesmar was successfully attacked.  Bursts were seen near the target, but owing to haze and cloud formations nothing could be pinpointed. AA was intense and accurate and searchlights were very active.  No damage or casualties were incurred.

 13 August 1940 - On this occasion the Fiat Works at Turin was the objective, and this target was attacked from a height of 4,000 feet.  Hits were observed on the main buildings of the Works, and the incendiaries caused many fires.  After the bombs burst two large explosions were seen.  Clouds were 6/10s at 7,000 feet.  AA fire was moderate but inaccurate.

18 August 1940 - The Aluminum Factory at Rheinfelden was the primary target on this mission and was attacked from a height of 5,000 feet.  All bombs burst on the target, and on a building which exploded and was followed by sheets of white flames.  No AA fires was encountered.  The weather was good.

 31 August 1940 - The Factory and blast furnaces at Spich were attacked successfully. Incendiaries were dropped on the factory and high explosives on the furnace.  Fires were started by the incendiaries and the blast furnace glowed more fiercely after the attack had been delivered.  Searchlight activity was intense and AA fire moderate.

 3 September 1940 - An aerodrome south of Bremen was chosen as the objective, and this was successfully attacked, but owing to intense darkness results could not be pinpointed.  The attack was carried out at 5,000 feet with 10/10 cloud just above this level.  AA fire was intense, the windscreen being damaged.  Searchlights were very active and held the aircraft several times.

 11 September 1940 - Successfully attacked the docks at Bremen.  Weather conditions were broken cloud and ground haze, and through a gap in the clouds bombs were observed to burst in the docks and in warehouses on the dock side.  Fires [which] were already raging were intensified by this attack, and the fires being now visible  for eighty miles were used by the navigator as an aid to navigation.  AA fire was intense and accurate, but no damage was sustained.  Every time the automatic pilot was used on this flight it attempted to “slow roll” the aircraft, and when corrected, dived the aircraft vertically.

 17 September 1940 - The docks at Hamburg were successfully attacked on this mission.  Bursts were observed on the docks.  AA fire was intense and accurate and mainly of light calibre, but no damage was sustained.  Owing to weather conditions - clouds were 9/10s over the target - this aircraft had to wait twenty minutes before it was possible to deliver the attack through a gap in the clouds.

 20 September 1940 - The aerodrome near Trier was selected as the objective and successfully attacked from a height of 5,000 feet.  Bombs were seen the burst among the hangars and along the tarmac.  After the attack a terrific barrage of AA fire was put up by the ground defence crews, accompanied by searchlights.  In carrying out evasive action this aircraft descended to 2,000 feet.  With the remaining bomb load the factory at Maastricht was attacked.  As a result of this attack a large fire was started which could be seen from fifty miles away.  During the attack on Trier the aircraft was hit several times, without, however, casualties being sustained.

Wing Commander Bufton has commanded No.10 Squadron since 20th July 1940.  By his example and unsparing efforts he has maintained a very high operational state. The squadron has recently passed through as bad time as far as this is concerned, owing to the building up of new crews.  There is no doubt that his own operational efficiency has gone a long way towards inspiring confidence among members of operational crews.

His operational efforts have shown a calm and unruffled determination, resulting in a high degree of efficiency.  I strongly recommend the award of the DFC"

Citation for the award of Companion, Order of the Bath.

BUFTON, Sydney Osborne, A/C, DFC (24184, Royal Air Force) - Directorate of Bomber Operations, Department of Chief of Air Staff - Companion, Order of the Bath - awarded as per London Gazette dated 1 January 1945.

 "This officer has served in the Air Ministry since November 1941, firstly as Deputy Director of Bomber Operations and, since March 1943, as Director of Bomber Operations.  He has been primarily responsible for strategical plans in connection with bomber operations and his initiative and guidance were largely responsible for the development of the Pathfinder Force and blind bombing technique.  He has made a continuous study of the principles of bomber offensive and has devoted every effort to ensuring that these principles were correctly interpreted and applied.  His imagination, initiative and courageous convicions have been reflected in a great many of the successes of British and American strategic air operations in Europe."

(Source - Air 2/9017)


This page was last updated on 15/12/22

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