Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation
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8 Dec 1913
1 Apr 1971
d: 2 Jan 2004
- 1 Jan 1967 (KCB – 13 Jun 1964, CB – 31 May 1956), GCVO
– 31 Dec 1987, KBE – 10 Jun 1961, DSO – 19 Oct 1945, K StJ - 31 Jan 1974,
- 1 Jan 1943, MiD
– 1 Jan 1945, PMN - xx xxx 1967.
For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations,
For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here
Off (P): 11 Sep 1931, Plt
Off: 11 Sep 1932, Fg Off: 11 Jun
1933, Flt Lt: 11 Jun 1936, Sqn
Ldr: 1 Dec 1939, (T) Wg
Cdr: 1 Mar 1941, Act Gp Capt: 12 Feb 1942, Wg
Cdr (WS): 12 Aug 1942, (T) Gp Capt:
1 Jul 1944, Wg Cdr: 1 Oct 1946, Gp
Capt: 1 Jan 1950, Act
A/Cdre: 11 May 1953, A/Cdre:
1 Jan 1956, Act AVM: 6 Dec 1957, AVM:
1 Jul 1958, Act AM: 7 Jan 1961, AM:
1 Jan 1962, ACM: 1 Apr 1965, MRAF:
1 Apr 1971.
Photo - Crown Copyright©
Granted a Short Service Commission
Officer Training, RAF Depot.
U/T Pilot, No 5 FTS.
Pilot, No 54 Sqn.
Adjutant, No 604 (County of Middlesex) Sqn AAF.
Instructors' Course, Central Flying School (graded B).
QFI, No 9 FTS.
Granted a Permanent Commission in the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
xx Dec 1936: Re-categorised from Instructor B to Instructor A2
Adjutant & QFI, University of London Air Squadron
Supernumerary, HQ No 21 (Training) Group.
Squadron Commander, No 13 FTS.
Officer Commanding, No 219 Sqn.
May 1940: Officer Commanding, No 249 Sqn.
Air Staff, HQ Fighter Command.
Staff, No 52 OTU.
Wing Commander - Flying, RAF Coltishall.
Officer Commanding, RAF Duxford
Officer Commanding, No 210 Group.
Officer Commanding, No 73 OTU.
Officer Commanding, Fighter Conversion Unit - Abu Sueir.
Officer Commanding, No 341 Wing.
SASO, No 232 Group.
Attended Army Staff College
Deputy Director of Operational Training.*
Air Attaché, Brussels
Officer Commanding, Northern Sector - Fighter Command.
Air Staff - Operations, HQ Fighter Command
Commandant, Central Fighter Establishment
Attended Imperial Defence College
Commander - Operation 'Grapple'
Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Operations)
C in C, RAF Germany/Commander, 2nd Tactical Air Force
AOC in C, Bomber Command
C in C, Far East Command/UK Military Adviser to SEATO
Chief of the Air Staff.
30 Apr 1971: Placed on half pay.
3 Oct 1973 - xx xxx 1974: Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Gibraltar
11 Aug 1978 - 9 Feb 1988: Governor and Constable of Windsor Castle.
* Not shown in 1949 AFL.
the RAF as a direct entrant from University College School, London in
1931. He was posted to No 5 FTS at
Sealand. Selected as a fighter
pilot he joined No 54 Squadron at Hornchurch flying the Bristol Bulldog
IIa. In 1935 he moved to Hendon to join No 604 (County of Middlesex) Squadron
of the Auxiliary Air Force. Here he was the a member of the permanent squadron staff,
tasked with assisting in the conversion of it's pilots from the bomber role to
the fighter role, having been re-equipped with Hawker Demons in 1934.
Following completion of this task he attended the instructors course at
the CFS, gaining a very rare A1 category. This was followed by a posting
to No 9 FTS and then his appointment as Adjutant and a QFI with the
University of London Air Squadron. In 1936, he was granted a
In 1936, he was granted a permanent commission.
ULAS, he moved to No 13 FTS as a squadron commander and in April 1940, he was
appointed to command No 219 Squadron, equipped with Blenheim, twin-engined
fighters. A moth later, he left No 219 and was given the task of
reforming No 249 Squadron as a Hurricane fighter unit.
Whilst OC, one of his Flight Commanders, Flt Lt J B Nicholson, was
awarded Fighter Command's only VC for remaining in his burning Hurricane until
he had completed the destruction of the enemy aircraft he was attacking.
He commanded the squadron throughout the Battle of Britain and hence became
the only Chief of the Air Staff to have done so.
He commanded the squadron throughout the Battle of Britain and hence became the only Chief of the Air Staff to have done so.
He relinquished command of No 249 in December 1940 and after a spell at Fighter Command HQ, he became an instructor at No 52 OTU, training fighter pilots. He was back on operations as Wing Leader of the Coltishall Wing in November 1941 but early in 1942, he was given command of RAF Duxford. It was here that he became responsible for establishing the first Typhoon Wing in the RAF. He involved himself in the test flying of this new aircraft, which initially was developing a reputation as something of a problem. He also flew on operations whenever possible, including during the Dieppe raid in August 1942.
A move to the Middle East in early 1943 brought him command of No 210 (Air Defence) Group, which controlled fighter units in the Tripoli area. He returned to training in September 1943, when he was given command of No 73 OTU, again training fighter pilots. In early 1945, he tried to get back to fighter operations, but found himself posted to Burma in command of No 341 Wing, whose squadrons were equipped with Dakotas and whose main task was supplying the requirements of the 14th Army. Whilst flying over Rangoon on 4 May 1945, he saw "JAP GONE, RAF HERE, EXTRACT DIGIT" painted on the roof of a PoW prison. Landing at nearby Mingaladon, he was able to evacuate some of the weaker prisoners. He was also involved in the evacuation of civilians from the Dutch East Indies during the immediate post-war period.
Before leaving the Far East he was appointed SASO of No 232 Group, until early 1946 when he returned to Britain and attended the Army Staff College. He then spent a couple of years at the Air Ministry before being appointed Air Attaché in Belgium, after which he filled various staff appointments before taking over as Commandant of the Central Fighter Establishment. Attendance at the Imperial Defence College preceded his return east, this time to the Pacific in command of the units attached to Operation 'Grapple Y' and 'Z'. These were the second part of the British Hydrogen Bomb trials, operating from Christmas Island.
A tour at the Air Ministry as Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Operations), preceded a move to Germany as Commander of 2nd Tactical Air Force. Command of Bomber Command was followed by a tour as C in C, Far East Command where he was in command of all British Forces in the Far East before his appointment as Chief of the Air Staff, which came into effect on the 49th anniversary of the formation of the RAF. During his tenure, he had to preside over a many changes, including the withdrawal of British forces for east of Suez, the cancellation of some of the most technologically advanced projects and the transfer of the nuclear deterrent to the Royal Navy. In 1968, he was made a Freeman of the City of London and also a Honorary Liveryman of the Haberdashers’ Company.
On retiring from the RAF he joined the Board of Brixton Estates Ltd, but left this position in 1973 on his appointment as the first Governor and C in C of Gibraltar, which he took up on 3 October, returning to the Board once again in 1978 and remaining a Director until 1983. He has also been a member and/or official of many bodies and organisations including the Imperial War Museum (Trustee 1971 - 78, Chairman 1978 - 89), RAF Benevolent Fund, Shuttleworth Remembrance Trust, National Association of Boy's Clubs and the RNLI. He was also a trustee of the RAF church, St Clement Danes, the Prince Philip Trust Fund and the Burma Star Association. He was President of the Air League from 1984 to 1987
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