Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

 

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Air Chief Marshal Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris (70225)


Christopher Neil                  b: 16 Mar 1917                     r: 22 Apr 1974                     d: 28 Sep 2003

GCB 1 Jan 1973 (KCB 1 Jan 1969, CB -11 Jun 1966), DSO - 29 May 1945, OBE 2 Jan 1956, MiD - 14 Jun 1945, MA (Trinity College) - 1946 (BA - 1930), CCMI (FBIM - 1974), FRSA.

(RAFO): Plt Off: 22 Dec 1936, Fg Off: 3 Nov 1939, Flt Lt (WS): 17 Mar 1941, (T) Sqn Ldr: 1 Jun 1942, Act Wg Cdr: xx xxx 1943/4,

(RAF): Sqn Ldr: 26 Mar 1946 [1 Sep 1945], Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1951, Act Gp Capt: 3 Dec 1956, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1957, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1961, Act AVM: 1 Jan 1964, AVM: 1 Apr 1963, AM: 1 Jul 1968, ACM: 1 Dec 1970,                          

22 Dec 1936:            Granted a Commission in the RAFO - Class AA.

xx xxx 1936:             U/T Pilot, Oxford University Air Squadron.

xx xxx 1939:             U/T Pilot, No 9 FTS

xx xxx 1940:             Attended No 1 School of Army Co-operation.

xx May 1940:           Pilot, No 13 Sqn. (Lysanders)

xx Sep 1940:             Pilot, No 3 Sqn .

19 Nov 1940:           Pilot, No 615 (County of Surrey) Sqn.

xx xxx 1941:             QFI, Central Flying School.

xx xxx xxxx:              QFI, No ? SFTS, Canada.

xx xxx 1943:             Pilot, Atlantic Ferry Unit?

xx xxx 1943:             Flight Commander, No 143 Sqn (Beaufighters)

xx xxx 1943:              Flight Commander, No 252 Squadron (Beaufighters)

xx xxx xxxx:              Officer Commanding, No 603 Sqn

xx Feb 1945:            Officer Commanding, No 143 Sqn.

25 May 1945:           Officer Commanding, No 14 Sqn.  

26 Mar 1946:          Appointed to a Permanent Commission in the rank of Squadron Leader (retaining rank current at the time) [wef 1 Sep 1945]

22 Mar 1946:           Air Staff, HQ No 2 Group.

xx xxx 1947:             Attended RAF Staff College.

xx xxx 1948:             Officer Commanding, Oxford University Air Squadron.

xx xxx 1951:             Directing Staff, RAF Staff College.

26 Jun 1953:             Air Staff -Air Plans, HQ Far East Air Force.

 3 Dec 1956:            Group Captain - Plans, HQ Fighter Command.

xx Nov 1958:           Officer Commanding, RAF Stradishall.

 4 Aug 1959:            Officer Commanding, RAF West Malling.

xx xxx 1960:            Attended Senior Officers' War Course, Greenwich.

xx xxx 1961:            Attended Imperial Defence College.

 1 Feb 1962:            Director of Organisation.

1 Apr 1963:             Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff. (General)

30 Nov 1964:          AOC,  No 224 Group.

14 Apr 1967:           Director-General of Organisation.

16 Jul 1968:             C in C, 2nd Tactical Air Force/RAF Germany.

 9 Jan 1971:             Chief of Personnel and Logistics, Defence Staff.

His grandfather had been Dean of Westminster and was buried near the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey.  Educated at Winchester and Trinity, Oxford, where he read Law, he joined the Oxford UAS and was commissioned into the RAFO in 1936.  He then won a Harmsworth scholarship (worth 200) to read for the Bar, but the outbreak of war prevented him from taking his final exams.  The Bar Council even requested the money back, but he made an arrangement with them that he would leave it to them in his will.  Called up for active service in 1939 he completed his training at No 1 School of Army Co-operation and was then posted to No 13 Sqn flying Lysanders in France.

With the fall of France and the start of the Battle of Britain, the need for Army Co-operation pilots was greatly reduced whilst that for fighter pilots was increased and a call for volunteers to fly fighters was put out.  Foxley-Norris volunteered and was posted to No 3 Sqn flying Hurricanes from Turnhouse.  Towards the end of the Battle of Britain, No 3 Squadron moved and briefly took part in the main fighting in the south of England.  In February 1941, he was shot down and baled out, only to be arrested as a suspected German pilot.  After the Battle he became a flying instructor, initially at the Central Flying School and then in Canada.  During this period, he was court-martialled for writing a letter to a colleague, which mentioned operational details, but fortunately he was acquitted.

Returning from Canada he joined No 143 Squadron flying anti-shipping strikes in Beaufighters and in the autumn was sent to the Middle East, where he joined No 252 Squadron also flying Beaufighters on anti-shipping strikes before being given command of No 603 Squadron.  Early in 1945 he returned to the UK and was appointed to command, No 143 Squadron flying Mosquito VI's.  

Following the cessation of hostilities in Europe, the RAF underwent a rationalisation with many squadrons being disbanded and in late 1945, he found himself in command of No 14 Squadron by the simple expedient of re-numbering No 143.  Offered a permanent commission, he accepted and he filled a variety of posting.  A couple of incidents from this period are taken from his obituary in the Daily Telegraph

"While commanding at Stradishall in the 1950s he was so concerned by the number of lonely young airmen who were marrying prematurely that he formally indented for a brothel. Alarmed, the RAF dispatched an air vice-marshal to find out "what the hell was going on". The officer sympathised with Foxley-Norris but turned down his solution out of hand. On another occasion, while commanding at RAF West Malling, he shared a first-class railway compartment with Douglas Fairbanks Jr, not liking to admit that he did not have a first-class ticket. Fortunately, when the ticket inspector called it transpired that Fairbanks did not have one either."

Various staff and command appointments followed as listed above and after retiring from the RAF he held a number of offices in various charitable organisations, including Chairman (1974 - 82) and Chairman Emeritus (1982 - 2003) of the Cheshire Foundation, he had been at Oxford with Leonard Cheshire in the 1930's, Chairman of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association (1978 - 2003) and Gardening for the Disabled (1980 - 2003) to name a few.  He also became chairman of General Portfolio Life Assurance and a director of Brookdale Hutton Associates.  He was made a Honorary Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge in 1973.

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