Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Commodore J A Holmes

Jack Albert                  b: 30 Jun 1917                        r: 30 Jun 1967                    d: 31 Dec 2013

DFC – 26 Aug 1941, Bar – 17 Aug 1943.

Plt Off: 17 Dec 1938, Fg Off: 17 Jun 1940, Act Flt Lt: 4 Oct 1940, Flt Lt (WS): 17 Jun 1941, Act Sqn Ldr: xx xxx 1943, Sqn Ldr: 1 Jul 1943, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1950, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1957, Act A/Cdre: 8 Jul 1962 – 20 Apr 1965, A/Cdre: Retained.

xx xxx 1934:           Apprentice, No 2 School of Technical Training, RAF Cranwell.

 7 Jan 1937:           Flight Cadet, RAF College.

17 Dec 1938:          Attended Flying Boat Course?

xx Aug 1939:          Pilot, No 240 Sqn (Stranraer/Catalinas - Shetlands)

xx Sep 1941:          Instructor, ?

xx Mar 1942:          Pilot, No 210 Sqn (Catalinas - Shetlands)

xx Jan 1943:           Flight Commander, No 190 Sqn

xx Aug 1943:          Staff Officer - Ops (M) 1, Directorate of Operations (Maritime)

xx xxx xxxx:           Directing Staff, RAF Staff College

xx xxx xxxx:           Pilot, Transport Unit

xx xxx xxxx:           QFI, ?

xx xxx 1950:          Instructor, Rhodesian Air Training Group.

xx xxx 1955:          Attended No 231 OCU - Canberra Conversion Course

xx xxx 1956:          Officer Commanding. No 88 Sqn.

xx xxx 1957:          Officer Commanding, RAF Geilenkirchen

xx xxx xxxx:            SASO, Central Reconnaissance Establishment

 8 Jul 1962:            Air Attaché, Athens.

21 Apr 1965:         Assistant Commandant, RAF College of Air Warfare.

Born in Norwich, he was educated at Notre Dame School and joined the RAF as an aircraft apprentice. Awarded a cadetship to the RAF College, Cranwell, on completion of his apprenticeship, he trained as an officer and pilot and represented the College at football, athletics and boxing.

On 11 June 1943 a Fortress of Coastal Command attacked and destroyed the U-417, about 250 miles north of the Shetland Islands.  However the Fortress was damaged by return fire and the captain, Wing Commander R B Thomson was left with no alternative but to ditch the aircraft. Thomson and his crew successfully evacuated the Fortress and were able to get into their dinghy and eight hours later they were located by a searching aircraft.  A Catalina of the US Navy attempted to land and effect a rescue but crashed but search aircraft continued to patrol over the dinghy for the next three days until Jack Holmes arrived in his Catalina and decided to attempt a landing to rescue Thomson and his crew.  After a couple of dummy runs he landed and was able to take the eight crew aboard but the Catalina was now too heavy, so Holmes dumped 700 gallons of fuel and was eventually able to take off and returned to Sullom Voe where Thomson's crew were transferred to hospital

After retiring on his 50th birthday he joined Marconi as a consultant in their aviation and international sales division.

Citation for the award of the Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross.

"Squadron Leader Jack Albert HOLMES, D.F.C. (33413), Royal Air Force, No. 190 Squadron.

In June, 1943, this officer piloted an aircraft detailed to search for a dinghy containing the crew of an aircraft. After a flight of some 400 miles over the water the dinghy was located.  Although a heavy sea was running, making the task of alighting the aircraft extremely hazardous, Squadron 'Leader Holmes skilfully came down alongside the dinghy and its occupants were hauled safely aboard the aircraft. This officer displayed superb airmanship and great determination throughout."

(London Gazette - 17 August 1943)


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