Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Burnett

Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles BurnettCharles Stuart               

b: 3 Apr 1882                  r: xx Jun 1942                        d:  9 Apr 1945

KCB - 1 Jan 1936 (CB - 1 Jan 1927), CBE - 3 Jun 1919, DSO 11 Apr  1918 [1 Jan 1918], MiD - 25 Aug 1905, MiD - 2 Jul 1907, MiD - 25 Jul 1917, MiD - 7 Oct 1918 [14 Jun 1918], MiD - 22 Jan 1919, MiD - 5 Jun 1919, MiD - 28 Oct 1921, N3 - 18 Nov 1919, OSw (K) - xx xxx 1934.

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here  

(Army): - 2 Lt:  xx Oct 1901, Lt (Local): 20 Aug 1904, Lt: xx Oct 1907, (T) Capt: 6 Dec 1914, Capt: 1 Oct 1915, (T) Maj: 2 Apr 1916, (T) Lt Col: 8 Oct 1917.

(RAF): - (T) Lt Col [Maj]: 1 Apr 1918, Act Brig-Gen: 18 Jun 1919, Wg Cdr: 1 Aug 1919, Gp Capt: 30 Jun 1921, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1929, AVM: 1 Jul 1931, AM: 1 Jan 1936, Act ACM (unpd): 1 Jan 1940, ACM: Retained.

Photograph Crown Copyright

xx xxx 1899:              Private, Imperial Yeomanry

xx Oct 1901:              Officer, Highland Light Infantry (attached Imperial Yeomanry).

20 Aug 1904:              Officer, West African Frontier Force.

 7 Aug 1909:                Resigned his commission in the HLI.

 7 Aug 1909:                Civilian Employment.

19 Aug 1914:               Appointed to a Temporary Commission in the General Reserve of Officers in the rank of Lieutenant.

 6 Dec 1914:                Adjutant, No ? Wing, RFC. (graded as Flight Commander)

24 May 1915:              Flight Commander, No 17 Sqn RFC. (BE2c Gosport/Egypt)

 2 Apr 1916:                Officer Commanding, No 36 Sqn RFC. (BE2c, BE12, FE2b Cramlington)

27 Oct 1916:               Officer Commanding, No 12 Sqn RFC. (BE2c, BE2e, RE8 Western Front)

9-11 Jan 1917:           Officer Commanding (Temporary), 12th Wing

 8 Oct 1917:                Officer Commanding, 5th Wing RFC.

18 Jun 1919:                GOC (Temporary), Palestine Brigade.

 1 Aug 1919:                Awarded Permanent Commission as a Lieutenant Colonel

 4 Apr 1920:                Officer Commanding, Mesopotamian Wing.

16 Nov 1920:              Staff Officer, HQ Mesopotamia Group  

26 Feb 1921:              Supernumerary, HQ Middle East Area

 1 Jul 1921:                  Supernumerary?, No 7 Group. (awaiting posting to No 29 Group)

xx xxx - 24 Oct 1921:    Placed on half pay list, scale ?

24 Oct 1921:               Officer Commanding, No 29 Group.

 1 Apr 1922:                Officer Commanding, RAF Training Base Leuchars.

 1 Dec 1922:                Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

23 Feb 1923:               Deputy Director of Operations & Intelligence.

24 Jan 1927:                Commandant, Central Flying School.

30 Jan 1929:                Chief Staff Officer, HQ Iraq Command.

 6 Feb 1931:                Director of Operations & Intelligence/Deputy Chief of Air Staff.

23 Nov 1932:              AOC, Iraq Command.

 8 Jan 1935:                AOC, Inland Area.

 10 July 1936:             AOC in C, Training Command.

 1 Jul 1939:                 Inspector-General of the RAF (additional).

19 Jan 1940:               Chief of the Air Staff, Royal Australian Air Force.

xx Feb 1943:              Commandant, Central Command - ATC

Born in Minnesota, USA of Scottish descent, he attended Bedford School.  He gained his RAeC Certificate (No 985) on 24 November 1914 and joined the RFC.  He originally fought in South Africa as a private soldier before being commissioned.  In 1904 he joined the West African Frontier Force, where he was mentioned in despatches but also caught blackwater fever.

He had a special craving for a glass of whiskey and milk before breakfast and not being prepared to accept condensed milk, he detailed one of his officers to acquire suitable supplies of milk.  This resulted in the squadron being probably the only RFC unit on the Western Front or elsewhere to possess it's own cow.  He led a return flight from Basrah to Muscat in flying boats starting on 8 May 1929.  On 28 January 1936 he was a mourner at the funeral of HM King George V.  In 1936, the home command structure was re-organized into functional commands, Inland Area was renamed Training Command with Burnett remaining as it's AOC in C.  As such he oversaw the great build up of the RAF training machine to cope with the increasing requirements brought about by the need for rapid expansion of the late thirties as the likelihood of war with Germany became more and more certain.

Extract from the London Gazette - 5 July 1921

"The, Royal Air Force under the Command of Wing Commander C. S. Burnett, C.B.E. , D.S.O. , Commanding Mesopotamian Wing, Royal Air Force, have during the operations above described co-operated with the Army both in attack and defence, constantly reconnoitring almost every part of Mesopotamia. Twenty-eight tons of bombs were dropped and 74,000 rounds of ammunition fired from machine-guns on insurgent concentrations, camps and. convoys and hostile villages.  Communication was maintained with outlying and besieged garrisons; ammunition, food, medical comforts, wireless spare parts, and on one occasion a 13 -pounder breech block were conveyed, to isolated posts."

This page was last updated on 04/02/18 using FrontPage 2003

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