Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Vice Marshal R Harrison


b: 29 Jun 1893                     

r: 25 Apr 1946                    

d: 18 May 1974

CB - 8 Jun 1944, CBE - 1 Jan 1943, DFC - 8 Feb 1919, AFC - 3 Jun 1935, MiD - 23 Mar 1928, MiD - 15 Mar 1929, MiD - 1 Jan 1941, MiD - 17 Mar 1941, CdG (F) - 21 Sep 1918.

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(Army):- (T) 2 Lt (P): 7 Jul 1916, Lt: xx xxx xxxx.

(RAF):- Lt: 1 Apr 1918, (T) Capt: 14 Jul 1918, Fg Off: 1 Aug 1919, Flt Lt: 30 Jun 1922, Sqn Ldr: 5 Mar 1930, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1936, (T) Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1940, Act A/Cdre: xx xxx xxxx, (T) A/Cdre: 15 Jul 1941, Gp Capt: 14 Apr 1942 [1 Jan 1940], Act AVM: 27 Feb 1943, (T) AVM: 1 Dec 1943, AVM: Retained.

Photo shows Harrison (right) with Saundby (left) and Harris (Centre), courtesy Peter Sketchley

Harrison (right) with Saundby (left) and Harris (Centre), courtesy Peter Sketchley


 7 Jul 1916:              Officer, Hampshire Regiment.

21 Apr 1917:            Transferred to the General List, RFC

21 Apr 1917:            Flying Officer, RFC.

 6 May 1917:            Pilot, No 59 Sqn RFC

23 July 1917:            Instructor, No 66 Training Sqn, RFC

 1 Jan 1918:              Pilot, No 52 Sqn, RFC (RE8) France

14 Jul 1918:              Flight Commander, No 52 Sqn

2-7 Nov 1918:         Admitted to No 1 Casualty Clearing Station

23 Oct 1919:             Return to UK, No 52 Sqn stood down.

28 Feb 1920:            Pilot, No 14 Sqn. (Bristol F2B)

 7 Apr 1924:             QFI, RAF (Cadet) College, Cranwell.

12 Aug 1924:            QFI, No 2 FTS.

12 Feb 1926:            Flight Commander, No 30 Sqn. (DH9A)

   July 1926:              Pilot, No 8 Sqn (DH9a) Iraq

 1 Oct 1926:             Staff, Aircraft Depot Iraq

 8 Feb 1927:             Flight Commander, No 30 (B) Sqn, Iraq

23 Jul - 29 Oct 1927:             Officer Commanding, No 30 Sqn (temporary)

25 May 1928:           Supernumerary, RAF Depot

12 Oct 1928:            QFI, No.2 FTS, Digby

22 Jan 1929:             QFI, CFS

29 Apr 1930:            Supernumerary, No 17 Sqn. (Bulldog)

 1 May 1930:            Officer Commanding, No 17 Sqn. (Bulldog)

14 Nov 1931:           Squadron Commander, Central Flying School.

22 Feb 1935:            Adjutant, RAF Depot, Middle East.

 2 Mar 1937:            Supernumerary, No 78 Sqn. (Heyford, Whitley)

 8 Mar 1937:            Officer Commanding, No 78 Sqn. (Heyford, Whitley)

17 Jan 1940:             Supernumerary, RAF Honington

27 Jan 1940:             Officer Commanding, RAF Honington

 2 - 16 Apr 1940:     Detached to RAF Lossiemouth for operational duties

 8-9 Jun 1940:         Temporary duty with No 1 Wing

11-13 Jun 1940:       Temporary duty with No 1 Wing

14-15 Jun 1940:       Temporary duty, Jersey

15-17 Jun 1940:       Temporary duty with No 1 Wing

 7 Dec 1940:            SASO, HQ No 1 (Bomber) Group

15 Jan 1942:            Deputy SASO, HQ Bomber Command.

27 Feb 1943:           AOC, No 3 (Bomber) Group.


Richard Harrison - outer photos showing him in his full dress uniform as Squadron Leader, centre photo showing him in the RFC

All photos - courtesy Bob Lynes

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

"Lt. (A./'Capt.) Richard Harrison. (FRANCE)

Owing to his skill and initiative this officer has been able to obtain most valuable information which has proved of the greatest assistance to our advance, notably on 29th October, when he carried out a reconnaissance to clear up the situation in a certain area. This information was urgently required.  Flying at an extremely low altitude, Captain Harrison not only succeeded in locating our troops and those of the enemy, but he also obtained an accurate estimate of their respective strength. He further observed and reported the position of six enemy batteries in action, which were in consequence successfully engaged by our artillery."

(London Gazette - 8 February 1919)

From MRAF Harris's memoir:

"At the same time Bomber Command was undergoing expansion, and both 218 and XV Squadrons were increased to a strength of twenty-four aircraft plus reserves. There was a change of command at 3 Group HQ on the 27th with the departure of AVM Cochrane to 5 Group as AOC.  Cochrane's forthright and no-nonsense approach had given the group the impetus it so desperately needed, at a time when it had reached a low ebb. The group's new commanding officer was fifty year-old Yorkshireman, AVM  Richard Harrison CBE DFC AFC.  Prior to Harrison's appointment he had served as SASO at HQ 1 Group from December 1940 until his appointment as Deputy SASO at HQ Bomber Command in January 1942.  Harrison had been considered as successor to Baldwin back in 1942, but Harris wanted Cochrane and got his wish.  In a letter to Portal dated July 5th 1942 Harris wrote of Harrison:

Alternatively, Harrison my Deputy SASO would entirely suit me as AOC 3 Group. He is a fine commander, though rather junior.  He would he the first AOC in this war with personnel operational experience of the war, and that of itself has many attractions"

This page was last updated on 18/11/22

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