Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation
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b: 23 Mar 1919
r: 10 Apr 1971
d: 21 Dec 1997
CB – 1 Jan 1968, AFC – 8 Jun 1944, Bar
– 1 Jan 1948, Bar – 2 Jan 1956, AFRAeS.
Plt Off: 29 Jul 1939, Fg Off (WS): 3 Sep 1940, Flt Lt (WS): 3 Sep 1941, Act Sqn Ldr: xx xxx xxxx, (T) Sqn Ldr: 1 Jul 1944, Act Wg Cdr: 15 Mar 1944?, Sqn Ldr (WS): 15 Sep 1944, Flt Lt: 21 May 1946 [29 Jan 1943], Sqn Ldr: 1 Oct 1946, Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1951, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1957, Act A/Cdre: 19 Jan 1961, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1962, Act AVM: 23 Aug 1965, AVM: 1 Jul 1966.
xx xxx 1937: Flight Cadet, 'B' Sqn, RAF College.
29 Jul 1939: Appointed to a Permanent Commission
29 Jul 1939: Pilot, No 19 Sqn.
xx xxx 1940:
xx xxx 1941: ?
xx xxx 1941: Pilot, Merchant Ship Fighter Unit.
xx xxx 1942: Attended Air Gunnery Course.
xx xxx xxxx: Tour of USA.
15 Mar 1944?: Officer Commanding, Air Gunnery School, Egypt.
2 Jan 1945: Air Staff, HQ RAF Mediterranean and Middle Eas
xx Oct 1946: Officer Commanding, No 54 Sqn. (Vampire F1/3)
xx xxx 1948: Attended RAF Staff College
xx xxx 1949: PSO to Deputy Chief of the Air Staff.
xx xxx 1950: Squadron Commander, RAF College, Cranwell.
xx xxx xxxx: Officer Commanding, No 2 ITS (Cranwell)
xx xxx xxxx: Officer Commanding, No 3 Wing (Digby), No 3 ITS. (Cranwell)
xx Mar 1954: CFI, RAF Flying College
xx xxx 1958: Officer Commanding, RAF Wildenrath.
26 Jan 1961: Air Attaché, Moscow.
21 Aug 1963: Commandant, RAF College.
23 Aug 1965: AOC, No 23 (Training) Group.
8 Jan 1968: Senior RAF Member, Directing Staff, Imperial Defence College.
7 Mar 1970: Director-General of RAF Training.
The holder of three AFC’s, Michael Lyne became the youngest Commandant of the RAF College in 1963 and was considered by many destined to join the Air Force Board. One of the last pre war graduate of the RAF college at Cranwell, he joined No 19 Squadron at Duxford flying Spitfires. However, shot in the knee over Dunkirk, he managed to fly his aircraft back to Britain and carried out a crash landing at Deal. His problems where not yet over, however, the ambulance taking him to hospital crashed into a lamp post and his injuries so serious, it was a year before he was fit enough to return to operations.
After recovery he volunteered to join the Merchant Ship Fighter Unit, which was tasked with the highly dangerous role of flying catapult launched Hurricanes from the decks of specially modified merchant ships. The purpose of this unit was to provide protection to Atlantic convoys against the Luftwaffe's long range FW200 Condor's. Following an interception, the pilots of these Hurricanes had to parachute down into the sea and hope to be rescued as the ships had no facilities for retrieving the aircraft once launched. Fortunately for him he had no cause to be launched and put the theory to the test and after 12 months with the unit was sent on a gunnery (instructors) course. A tour of the USA with three other fighter pilots was followed by a posting to the Middle East and command of an air gunnery school, remaining in command until the end of the war. It was for his work in Egypt that he received his first AFC.
Whilst commanding No 54 Squadron, he formed and led the world's first jet aerobatics display team, carrying out practice flights in secret above the cloud. After performing at an airshow in Brussels, the concept was officially accepted and he was asked to lead his team at other shows in the UK. He was awarded the first bar to his AFC for his pioneering work. Other postings followed until in 1955 he was appointed CFI of the RAF Flying College. On 24 June 1955, he flew 'Aries IV' from Norway to Alaska over the North Pole, receiving his second bar. Promotion to Group Captain brought a posting to Germany as CO of RAF Wildenrath, where he learnt to speak German. Having also started learning Russian proved of benefit to him by getting him appointed Air Attaché to Moscow, a post he held during the turbulent period of the Cuban missile crisis.
Having graduated from Cranwell in 1939 and then commanded an Initial Training Wing there in the 1950’s, he returned once again in 1963, this time as Commandant. His final three appointments before retirement were also in the training field. The first being AOC, No 23 Group, responsible for all pilot training in Flying Training Command. This was followed by a posting as Senior Directing Staff at the Imperial Defence College and finally a posting to the Ministry of Defence as Director-General of Training.
Retiring in 1971, he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Lincolnshire in 1973, founded the Lincolnshire Microprocessor Society in 1979 and together with his wife, took up offshore sailing. They even crossed the Atlantic by yacht in 1981.
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H T Lydford
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O G W G Lywood
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