Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

 

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Air Chief Marshal The Hon Sir Ralph Cochrane


ACM Sir Ralph CohraneRalph Alexander            

  b: 24 Feb 1895              r: 29 Nov 1952                        d: 17 Dec 1977

GBE - 8 Jun 1950 (KBE - 1 Jan 1945, CBE - 2 Jan 1939), KCB - 10 Jun 1948 (CB - 1 Jan 1943), AFC - 1 Jan 1919, FRAeSMiD - xx xxx 191?, MiD - 11 Jun 1924, MiD - 1 Jan 1941, MiD - 8 Jun 1944, 

Special Prize - 'R M Groves' – 1929, RUSI Essay Gold Medallist - 1935

(RN): - Mid'n: 15 Sep 1912, Flt Sub-Lt: 15 Mar 1915, Sub-Lt: 30 Jun 1916, (T) Flt Lt: 30 Jun 1916, Flt Cdr: 30 Jun 1917.

(RAF): - (T) Capt [Lt]:  1 Apr 1918, (T) Maj (Dir): 1 Apr 1918Act Maj: 1 May - 31 Jul 1919,  Sqn Ldr: 1 Jul 1925, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1933, Act Gp Capt (unpd): 1 Feb 1937, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1938, (T) A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1940, (T) AVM: 1 Dec 1941, A/Cdre: 14 Apr 1942 [1 Jul 1940], AVM: 1 Jun 1943, Act AM: 15 Feb 1944, (T) AM:  1 Jan 1946, AM: 1 Oct 1946, ACM: 1 Mar 1949.  

Photograph © Crown Copyright

xx xxx 1908:             Attended Osbourne/HMS Britannia?.

15 Sep 1912:              Midshipman, HMS Colossus.

xx xxx 1915:               Airship Pilot, Folkestone Airship Station.

xx xxx xxxx:                Airship Pilot (Trials), Kingsnorth Airship Station.

xx xxx xxxx:                Staff Officer, Admiralty Airship Department.

xx xxx xxxx:                Airship Pilot, Pulham Airship Station.

 1 Aug 1919:               Awarded Permanent Commission in rank of Flight Lieutenant. (gazetted 26 Sep 1919)

22 Jan 1920:               Removed from the Navy Lists on being awarded Permanent Commission in RAF

21 Mar 1920:             Airship Pilot, RAF Airship Base, Howden.

xx Apr 1920:              Staff Officer, Directorate of Research

14 Jun 1920:               Supernumerary, HQ Middle East Area/

xx xxx 1920:               Experimental duties, No 70 Sqn.

xx xxx 1921:               Supernumerary, HQ Middle East Area/U/T Pilot, No 4 FTS.

 7 Jan 1922:                Flight Commander, No 45 Sqn.

13 Oct 1923:              Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

14 Jan 1924:               Officer Commanding, No 3 Sqn, Boy's Wing - Cranwell

 4 May 1925:              Attended RAF Staff College.

xx Apr 1926:               Staff Officer, HQ No 7 Group.

12 Apr 1926:               Air Staff, HQ Wessex Bombing Area.

 8 Mar 1928:                Air Staff, HQ Aden Command.

 1 Feb 1929:                Officer Commanding, No 8 Sqn.

14 Nov 1929:              Directing Staff, RAF Staff College.

 8 Jan 1932:                 Air Staff - Plans, Directorate of Operations and Intelligence.

xx xxx 1934:                Attended Higher Commanders' Course, School of Army Co-operation.

15 Jan 1935:                Attended Imperial Defence College.

xx Dec 1935:               Air Staff, HQ Inland Area.

 1 May 1936:               Air Staff, HQ Training Command.

 2 Oct 1936:                 Seconded to assist New Zealand Government

 1 Apr 1937:                 Chief of the Air Staff, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

 8 Mar 1939:                 Supernumerary?

30 May 1939:               Deputy Director of Intelligence (2)

xx Dec 1939:                Officer Commanding, RAF Abingdon

 1 Sep 1939 - 1 Dec 1940:        Air ADC to the King

xx xxx 1940:                 SASO, HQ No 6 (Bomber) Group.

 1 Jul 1940:                   AOC, No 7 (Bomber) Group. (Operational Training Units)

21 Oct 1940:                Director of Flying Training.

14 Sep 1942:                AOC, No 3 (Bomber) Group.

28 Feb 1943:                AOC, No 5 (Bomber) Group.

15 Feb 1945:                 AOC in C, Transport Command

15 Oct 1947:                AOC in C, Flying Training Command

28 Mar 1949 - 5 Feb 1952:    Air ADC to The King.

10 Jun - 29 Nov 1952:    Air ADC to The Queen  (effective from 6 Feb 1952)

 1 Mar 1950:                Vice Chief of the Air Staff

The youngest son of the 1st Baron Cochrane of Cults.  He stayed on airships until 1921 when he met Trenchard who said to him:-

     "Young man, you're wasting your time. Go and learn to fly an aeroplane”, which he promptly did.

In 1936 he was sent to New Zealand to assist with the creation of  a Royal New Zealand Air Force independent of the Army, which took place on 1 January 1937 with Cochrane as it's Chief of Staff.  He had always been an advocate of precision bombing wherever possible and as AOC 5 Group he gained a reputation for this type of work, one of his first tasks at No 5 Group was  to supervise the execution of the ‘Dams Raid’ in May 1943.  Continuing to utilize 617 Sqn in the precision bombing/marking role, he often found himself  in conflict with AVM Don Bennett in command of  No 8 Group, 'The Pathfinders'.  In the end Cochrane, thanks to 617, proved that precision targets could be attacked successfully, even to the point of Harris moving squadrons from 8 to 5 Group to boost Cochrane's marking force.  As AOC in C, Transport Command, he became very conscious of the high accident rate in the Command and set about remedying the situation by stepping up the training and by giving accident prevention a much higher profile.  Transport Command became the first command in the RAF to start the specialization of pilots on one type of aircraft a move which greatly reduced the accident rate during the Berlin Airlift in 1948 - 49.  Following retirement he entered the business world, holding a number of appointments including those of Managing Director of Atlantic Shipbuilding Co. (1953 - 56), Rolls Royce Ltd. (1956 - 61) and Chairman of RJM Exports Ltd. (1962) and Cochrane's of Oxford Ltd. (1973 - 1977).

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