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Air Commodore Sir Hughie Edwards (39005)


Hughie Idwal                b: 1 Aug 1914                     r: 30 Sep 1963                     d: 5 Aug 1982

VC – 22 Jul 1941, KCMG – 26 Aug 1974, CB - 1 Jan 1959, DSO – 8 Jan 1943, OBE – 11 Feb 1947, DFC – 4 Jul 1941, MiD – 1 Jan 1945, KStJ - 11 Jun 1974.

Plt Off: 21 Aug 1936, Fg Off: 21 May 1938, Flt Lt: 21 May 1940, (T) Sqn Ldr: 10 Aug 1941, (T) Wg Cdr: 1 Sep 1942, Act Gp Capt: 18 Feb 1943?, Wg Cdr (WS): 18 Aug 1943, Sqn Ldr: 2 Apr 1946 [1 Jun 1944], Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1947, Act Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1953?, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1954, Act A/Cdre: 23 Sep 1955, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1959.

xx Jul 1935:              Under training with RAAF.

xx Sep 1936:            Pilot, No XV Sqn.

15 Mar 1937:           Pilot/Adjutant, No 90 Sqn. (Bicester)

xx Aug 1938:            Hospitalisation/Non-Flying duties

xx Apr 1940:            Attended Armament Course.

xx Aug 1940:            Attended No 13 OTU (Blenheim - Bicester)

xx Feb 1941:            Pilot, No 139 Sqn.

11 May 1941:           Officer Commanding, No 105 Sqn.

31 Aug 1941:           Air Staff, AHQ Malta.  

xx Oct 1941:            Adviser to USAAC, USA.

xx Jan 1942:             CFI, No 22 OTU - Wellesbourne Mountford.

 3 Aug 1942:            Officer Commanding, No 105 Sqn.

18 Feb 1943:           Officer Commanding, RAF Binbrook.

xx Jan 1945:             Group Captain  - Operations, AHQ Ceylon.

21 Aug 1945:           Transferred to RAFO and called up for service.

2 Apr 1946:            Appointed to Permanent Commission in the rank of Squadron Leader (retaining rank current at the time). [wef 1 Sep 1945 antedated to 1 Jun 1944 on 25 Feb 1947]

 8 Feb 1946:            SASO, AHQ Netherlands East Indies.

xx xxx 1947:            Officer Commanding, RAF Kuala Lumper

xx xxx xxxx:             Served in Malta

xx xxx xxxx:             Officer Commanding, Staging Post - Habbaniya.

xx xxx xxxx:             Officer Commanding, RAF Wattisham.

xx xxx 1958:            Commandant, Central Fighter Establishment.

 8 Mar 1960 - 30 Sep 1963:         ADC to The Queen.

xx xxx 1961:            Attended Imperial Defence College.

22 Jan 1962:            Director of Organisation (Establishments).

Destined to become the most highly decorated Australian airman of WW2, Hughie Edwards began his military career as a private soldier in the Freemantle Garrison Artillery in 1934.  Transferring to the RAAF in 1935, he gained his 'wings' in June 1936 and was shortly afterwards transferred to the RAF.  Posted initially to No 15 Sqn flying Hinds, within six months he was moved to No 90 Sqn as sqn adjutant.  Shortly after his arrival at 90, they began to re-equip with the new monoplane bomber, the Blenheim.   During a break from his admin duties he was flying a Blenheim when it became uncontrollable.  Unfortunately as he baled out his parachute snagged on the aircraft and in the ensuing crash he severed a nerve in his leg resulting in a long spell of hospitalisation and non flying duties.   He was injured again on 25 September 1940, whilst carrying out a night reconnaissance operation in Blenheim IV, T1796, of No 13 OTU at Bicester.  He became lost and made a forced landing between Litchfield and Overton in Hampshire.

He finally returned to operations with No 139 Sqn at Horsham St Faith flying the Blenheim Mk IV.  Taking over command of No 105 Sqn at Swanton Morley again flying Blenheim IV's, he soon set about his task with vigour attacking shipping and coastal targets at very low level.  Shortly after taking command on the squadron, he was flying Blenheim T1826 which overshot on landing at Hendon on a training flight, fortunately there were no injuries.  During the mission of 4 July 1941, he was leading nine aircraft from his own squadron and six from 107 against docks and factories in Bremen.  He attacked under extremely fierce enemy fire flying through the balloon barrage and strafing targets after he had released his bombs.  His aircraft was hit several times and his gunner had his knee shattered but he managed to escape the fire and fly his Blenheim back to England.  For this operation, he was awarded the Victoria Cross.  A few days later he led 105 to Malta to relieve other No 2 Group units on the island.  From Malta the squadron undertook operations against Axis shipping in the Mediterranean area.  Returning to the UK, he left the squadron to join a lecture tour of the United States and on his return he took up the duties of CFI at Wellesbourne Mountford.

It was not long before he returned to operations and unusually he regained the reins of his old squadron, No 105, by now equipped with the De Havilland Mosquito.  He was awarded the  DSO following the 2 Group attack on the Phillips works at Eindhoven on 6 December 1942.  Promotion to Group Captain took him to Lincolnshire and command of the bomber station at Binbrook which was the home of fellow Australians, No 460 Sqn.  However elevation to the post of 'Station Master' did not deter him from taking part in operations, usually by 'skippering' new inexperienced crews.  With the end of the European war in sight, he found himself posted to the Far East where he filled a number of posts including Group Captain - Ops, SASO at AHQ Netherlands East Indies and AHQ Ceylon as well as station commander at Kuala Lumper.  He was awarded the CBE for is work in the Far East.

Remaining in the post-war RAF he received further awards in the form of an OBE (1947) and a CB (1959).  Following his retirement from the RAF he returned to his native Australia, where he became Australian Representative for Selection Trust until 1974 when he was appointed Governor of Western Australia, being sworn in on 7 January 1974.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

Acting Wing Commander Hughie Idwal EDWARDS (39005), No.105 Squadron.

In June, 1941, this officer led a formation of aircraft in an operational sweep against enemy shipping off the Dutch coast.  A convoy of eight merchant vessels was sighted at anchor about 3 miles outside The Hague.  In the face of intense and accurate pompom and machine gun fire, the formation attacked from a height of only 50 feet. Wing Commander Edwards attacked a ship of some 4,000 tons and, after raking the decks with his forward machine guns, released his bombs from mast high.  A considerable explosion followed, debris being thrown in the air while columns of black smoke were emitted.  The vessel was certainly severely damaged if not sunk.  This officer  has completed numerous operational missions over enemy and enemy-occupied country and  against their shipping and has at all times displayed great leadership, skill and gallantry.

(London Gazette – 4 Jul 1941)

Citation for the award of the Victoria Cross

Acting Wing Commander Hughie Idwal EDWARDS D.F.C. (39005), No.105, Squadron.

Wing Commander Edwards, although handicapped by a physical disability resulting from a flying accident has repeatedly displayed gallantry of the highest order in pressing home bombing attacks from very low heights against strongly defended objectives.  On 4th July, 1941, he. led an important attack on the Port of Bremen, one of the most heavily defended towns in Germany.  This attack had to be made in daylight and there were no clouds to afford concealment.  During the approach to the German coast several enemy ships were sighted and Wing Commander Edwards knew that his aircraft would be reported and that the defences would be in a state of readiness.  Undaunted by this misfortune he brought his formation 50 miles overland to the target, flying at a height of little more than 50 feet, passing under high-tension cables, carrying away telegraph wires and finally passing through a formidable balloon barrage.  On reaching Bremen he was met with a hail of fire, all his aircraft being hit and four of them being destroyed.  Nevertheless he made a most successful attack, and then with the greatest skill and coolness withdrew the surviving aircraft without further loss.  Throughout the execution of this operation which he had planned personally with full knowledge of the risks entailed,  Wing Commander Edwards displayed the highest possible standard of gallantry and determination.

(London Gazette – 22 Jul 1941)

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order

“On the 6th December, 1942, a force of bombers was detailed to make an attack in daylight on the Philips Factory at Eindhoven.  The operation, which was executed faultlessly, demanded a high degree of skill and accurate timing.  Bombs were released at varying heights, down to roof top level.  Many hits were obtained, some in the center of the target area.  Two gun posts were silenced.  Intense and heavy opposition was encountered and both of the outward and return flights attacks were made by enemy fighters.  The great success achieved reflects the greatest credit on the following personnel who participated in various capacities as leaders and members of aircraft crews:—

Distinguished Service Order.

Wing Commander Hughie Idwal EDWARDS, V.C., D.F.C. (39905), No.105 Squadron.

(London Gazette – 8 January 1943)

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