Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Commodore L E O Charlton

Photograph of L E O CharltonL E O Charlton - 1913Lionel Evelyn Oswald   

b: 7 Jul 1879                       

r: 1 Apr 1928                        

d: 18 Apr 1958

CB - 1 Jan 1919, CMG - 3 Jun 1916, DSO - 29 Nov 1900, LoH, C - 3 Nov 1914, LoH, O - 5 Apr 1919, MiD - 20 May 1918,  MiD - 31 Dec 1918, MiD - 11 Jul 1919.  

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here  

(Army): - 2 Lt: 28 Sep 1898, Lt: 1 Sep 1899, Capt: 5 Oct 1907, (T)  Lt Col: 18 Aug 1915, Maj: 1 Sep 1915, Bt Lt Col: 1 Jan 1917, (T) Brig-Gen: 28 Feb 1917.

(RAF): - (T) Brig-Gen [Lt Col]: 1 Apr 1918, Col: 1 Apr 1918, Act  Brig-Gen: 1 May 1919, Gp Capt: 1 Aug 1919, A/Cdre: 5 Aug 1919.

xx xxx xxxx:             Attended RMC Sandhurst

28 Sep 1898:             Officer, Lancashire Fusiliers. (South Africa)

19 Aug 1899:             Served in Malta

29 Sep 1899:             Served in Crete

18 Nov 1899:            Served in South Africa

17 Apr 1901:             Officer, Imperial Yeomanry.

23 Sep 1902:             In transit to West Africa

13 Dec 1902:             Officer, West African Frontier Force.

12 Aug 1907:             

29 April 1908:           ADC to Sir E B Sweet-Escott, Governor and C-in-C of the Leeward Islands

18 Apr 1909:             ?

xx Jan 1914:                U/T Pilot, Central Flying School

28 Apr 1914:              Flying Officer, RFC.

 1 May 1914:              Flight Commander, No 3 Sqn RFC. (Various types – Netheravon/Western Front)

17 Sep 1914:              Admitted to Hospital following injury in an aircraft accident

5 Oct 1914:                Discharged from Hospital

 6 Oct 1914:               Returned to Home Establishment

 1 Jan 1915:                Officer Commanding, No 8 Sqn RFC. (BE2c)

11 Aug 1915:              Returned to Home Establishment

18 Aug 1915:              Officer Commanding, No ? Wing RFC.

xx xxx 1915:                Officer Commanding?, RAF Depot, South Farnborough

19 Mar 1916:              GSO 1st Grade, Directorate of Military Aeronautics.  

28 Feb 1917:              Director of Air Organisation

18 Oct 1917:              Brigadier-General Commanding, V Brigade.

xx xxx 1918:

19 Feb 1919:              Air Attaché, Washington.

 1 Aug 1919:               Awarded Permanent Commission as a Colonel

 1 May 1922:              Supernumerary, RAF Depot.  

 1 Sep 1922:               Officer Commanding, No 7 Group.

 1 Jan 1923:                Supernumerary, RAF Depot

 2 Feb 1923:               Chief Staff Officer, HQ Iraq Command.

24 Sep 1923:               Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

xx xxx - 7 Mar 1924:    Placed on half pay list, scale ?

 7 Mar 1924:                AOC, No 3 Group.

10 Dec 1924:                Deputy Air Member?, Department of Air Member for Supply and Research.

During the Boar War, he was involved in the action at Spion Kop and was severely wounded, yet he continued to take part in the action for a further nine hours until ordered to leave by his Captain.

He gained RAeC Certificate No 609 on 29 August 1913.  No 8 Squadron was the first to be equipped with a single type of aircraft.   Whilst serving at the War Office he attempted to prevent under trained pilots being sent to the front and managed to stop the postings of three such individuals, but within half an hour of this action, he had been over-ruled by Trenchard.   In 1923 he openly criticized and disassociated himself from the bombing of Iraqi villages, eventually feeling it necessary to resign.   Returning to Britain, he went on leave and when he had not been summonsed to see Trenchard about the matter, requested an interview with the CAS.  Trenchard asked him why he had requested an interview to which Charlton replied.*

   "About my reasons for resigning"

   " Look here, Charlton.  You resigned, and I accept your resignation.  There's nothing more to be said."

   "Won't there be an official enquiry, then?."

   "An inquiry into what?  Your conscience?  Certainly not."

Therefore having failed to bring the matter in to the public domain as he had hoped, he merely found himself debarred from further postings in Iraq, although Trenchard never mentioned the matter again.  Retiring at his own request, he became a prolific author  on the subject of air defence, amongst other topics.  He also wrote boys’ adventure stories and worked for the BBC, talking on a wide range of subjects.

This page was last updated on 20/02/20

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