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Marshal of the RAF Sir Arthur Harris


Photo of MRAF Sir Arthur HarrisArthur Travers               

b: 13 Apr 1892                 r: 15 Sep 1945                  d: 5 Apr 1984

Baronet - 1 Jan 1953 (Conferred 13 Feb 1953), GCB - 14 Jun 1945 (KCB - 11 Jun 1942, CB - 11 Jul 1940), OBE - 3 Jun 1927, AFC - 2 Nov 1918, MiD - 15 Sep 1939, MiD - 1 Jan 1941, LL.D, OS1 - 29 Feb 1944, LoM (CC) - 30 Jan 1945, PR1 - 12 Jun 1945. NOSC (GC) - 13 Nov 1945, LoH (GO) - xx xxx 1945, CdeG (P) - xx xxx 1945, DSM (US) - 14 Jun 1946.

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(Army): - 2 Lt:  6 Nov 1915, (T) Capt: 14 Jul 1916, Lt: 1 Jul  1917, (T) Maj:  1 Jan 1918.

(RAF): - (T) Maj [Capt]: 1 Apr 1918, Sqn Ldr: 1 Aug 1919 [1 Apr 1918], Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1927, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1933, Act A/Cdre: 12 Jun 1937, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1937, AVM: 1 Jul 1939, Act AM: 1 Jun 1941, (T) AM: 1 Dec 1942, Act ACM: 18 Mar 1943, AM: 1 Jan 1944, (T) ACM: 16 Aug 1944, MRAF: 1 Jan 1946.  

 

 

Photograph © Crown Copyright

20 Oct 1914:              Bugler, 1st Rhodesian Regiment. (South-West Africa)

1 Oct 1915:                U/T Pilot, Brooklands.

28 Nov 1915:              'Wings' Course, Central Flying School.

29 Jan 1916:                Pilot, No 11 Reserve Sqn RFC.

15 Feb 1916:               Pilot, No 19 Reserve Sqn RFC. (BE2 – Northolt)

15 Apr 1916:               Pilot, No 39 Sqn RFC. (BE2 – Northolt)

24 Mar 1916:               Flight Commander, No 39 Sqn RFC. (BE2 – Hornchurch)

14 Jul 1916:                 Officer Commanding, No 38 Sqn RFC. (BE2c – Castle Bromwich)

27 Sep 1916:               Flight Commander, No 70 Sqn RFC. (Sopwith 11 Strutter – Western Front)

 2 Mar 1917:               Flight Commander, No 51 Sqn RFC (Various types – Hingham)

18 Jun 1917:                Flight Commander, No 45 Sqn RFC. (Camel – Western Front)

18 Aug 1917 - 24 Aug 1917:                 Officer Commanding (acting), No 45 Sqn RFC.

xx Sep 1917:                Flight Commander, Pilot's Pool - Joyce Green.

 6 Nov 1917:                Acting Officer Commanding, No 191 Sqn RFC/RAF. (BE2c, FE2b – Marham)  

 1 Jan 1918:                  Officer Commanding, No 191 Sqn RFC/RAF. (BE2c, FE2b – Marham)

11 Jun 1918:                 Officer Commanding, No 44 Sqn. (Camel – Hainault Farm)

19 Dec 1918:               Officer Commanding, No 50 Sqn  (SE5A – Harrietsham/Bekesbourne).

xx xxx 1919:                 Officer Commanding, Brooklands.

 1 Aug 1919:                 Awarded Permanent Commission as a Major

xx xxx 1919:                 Attended Air Navigation course, Andover.

21 Apr 1920:                Officer Commanding, Care and Maintenance Party, Scopwick.

26 Apr 1920:                Officer Commanding, No 3 FTS, RAF Scopwick.

26 Jan 1921:                 Officer Commanding, No 31 Sqn. (Bristol F2B – NWF India)

28 Jul 1922:                  Supernumerary, HQ RAF Iraq.

xx xxx xxxx:                  Staff, HQ Basrah Group.

20 Nov 1922:               Officer Commanding, No 45 Sqn. (Vernon – Hinaidi)

18 Oct 1924:                Supernumerary, RAF Depot

25 May 1925:               Officer Commanding, No 58 Sqn. (Vimy, Virginia – Worthy Down)

21 Jan 1928:                 Attended Army Staff College, Camberley.

30 Jan 1930:                 Senior Staff Officer to AOC, Middle East Command.

4 Apr 1932:                  Supernumerary, HQ RAF Middle East.

25 Apr 1932:                Supernumerary, HQ Iraq Command.

 8 Aug 1932:                 Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

 3 Oct 1932:                  Flying Boat Pilot's Course, RAF Base Calshot.

21 Mar 1933:                Officer Commanding, RAF Pembroke Dock/No 210 Sqn. (Southampton II, Trial aircraft)

11 Aug 1933:                Deputy Director of Operations and Intelligence

 3 Apr 1934:                 Deputy Director of Plans.

1 Apr 1937:                  Officer Commanding, No 4 Group.

12 Jun 1937:                 AOC, No 4 Group

xx Apr 1938 - 25 May 1938:                  Head of RAF Purchasing Commission to the USA.

 1 Jul 1938:                   AOC, Palestine and Transjordan.

11 Sep 1939:                AOC, No 5 Group, Bomber Command.

25 Nov 1940:               Deputy Chief of the Air Staff.

27 May 1941:               Head of RAF Delegation to the USA.

22 Feb 1942:                AOC in C, Bomber Command.

22 Sep 1945:                Relinquished appointment

 6 Mar 1946:                Placed on half pay as a Marshal of RAF.

Leaving England at the age of 16, he travelled to Rhodesia where he worked on a farm becoming the manager by the age of 21. Having fought in South-West Africa, he returned to Britain and joined the RFC, gaining his RAeC Certificate (No 2015) on 6 November 1915.  In March 1916, one of his flight, Lt W Leefe-Robinson, brought down the first Zeppelin over England for which he was awarded a VC.  With No 45 Sqn he gained his five victories, thereby raising him to ‘ace’ status. It was in India that he saw the deplorable state of the RAF in the area and at one point even threatened to resign his commission over the situation.  He has often been ‘credited’ with start ‘area bombing’, but this decision was made before he took over Bomber Command.  However, having been given the task he carried it out with vigor.  He also attempted increase the profile of the command and within months of taking over command had managed to mount three '1000 Bomber' raids against Cologne, Essen and Bremen.   After the war, shunned by the British authorities, he returned to South Africa and became Managing Director of  the South African Marine Corporation (Safmarine).   He was eventually honoured when Churchill returned to Downing Street in 1953, but at his own request was awarded a baronetcy rather than a peerage.

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