Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation
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Evelyn Michael Thomas
b: 9 Sep 1913 r: 17 Mar 1967 d: 5 May 2008
CBE - xx xxx xxxx, MiD – xx xx xxxx, CEng, FRAeS.
(RAF): - Plt Off: 15 Dec 1934, Fg Off: xx xxx xxxx, Flt Lt: 15 Jun 1938, Sqn Ldr: xx xxx xxxx, (T) Wg Cdr: 1 Jun 1941, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1947, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1953, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1960, AVM: 1 Jan 1966.
xx xxx 1933: Flight Cadet, ‘B’ Sqn, RAF College, Cranwell
15 Dec 1934: Appointed to a Permanent Commission.
15 Dec 1934: Pilot, No 142 Sqn. (Netheravon/Egypt)
11 May 1938: Supernumerary, No 1 RAF Depot
20 Aug 1938: Attended Armament Officers' Course
30 Aug 1939: Armament Officer, HQ Fighter Command
24 Apr 1940: Transferred to the Technical Branch
xx Sep 1941: En-route to Singapore
xx Oct 1941: Armament Officer, No 151 Maintenance Unit.
xx xxx 1942: Evading
xx xxx 1943: Prisoner of War
xx xxx xxxx: Armament Staff Officer, Air Ministry
xx xxx xxxx: Armament Staff Officer, Ministry of Supply
xx xxx 1955: Institute of Armament Studies at the Indian Military College of Engineering. Kirkee.
xx xxx 1957: Chief Armament Officer, HQ Bomber Command
xx xxx 1960: Director of Air Armament Research and Development, Ministry of Aviation
6 May 1963: Commandant, RAF Technical College
12 Feb 1966: SASO, HQ Technical Training Command.
The son of Sir Evelyn Howell, the Foreign Secretary to the Government of India, he defied his father and instead of going to university, he went to the RAF College at Cranwell, where he attained the rank of Flight Cadet Corporal, represented the college at Swimming and was awarded the Humanistics Prize. He arrived in Singapore just prior to the Japanese invasion and took an active role in trying to keep aircraft serviceable and available for duty but British forces were soon overwhelmed and he and others managed to get to southern Java, where they attempted to construct a raft to get them to Australia. Whilst he was in the jungle one day collecting rubber, the camp was discovered and the rest of the personnel were captured, but Tom Howell escaped capture and was given refuge by local natives. He worked in the fields and learnt native ways, even darkening his skin. However, bouts of malaria took its toll and in late 1942/early 1943 he gave himself up to the Japanese and was placed on a working party building an airfield on Sumatra, later being transferred to Changi jail. As a result of his evasion he was originally reported missing and it was 1943 before his family were advised that he was a PoW. He was released in September 1945.
Following retirement from the RAF at his own request he was appointed General Manager of Van Dusen Aircraft Supplies retaining the post until 1979.
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