Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Vice Marshal Sir Francis Mellersh

F J W Mellersh - 1917Sir Francis John Williamson MellershFrancis John Williamson            b: 22 Sep 1898           r: 28 Sep 1954                 d: 25 May 1955

KBE - 11 Aug 1950 (CBE - 1 Jan 1945), AFC - 3 Jun 1919, MiD - 1 Jan 1943, MiD - 14 Jan 1944, MA (Hon).

(RNAS):- (T) PFO: 29 Oct 1916, Flt Sub-Lt: 29 Oct 1916, (T) Flt Lt: 31 Dec 1917.

(RAF):- (H) Capt [Lt]: 1 Apr 1918, (T) Capt: 28 Aug 1918, Capt: 1 Dec 1918, Flt Lt: 1 Aug 1919, Fg Off: 24 Oct 1919, (T) Flt Lt: 9 Apr 1921, 11 Aug 1921, Flt Lt: 30 Jun 1923, Sqn Ldr: 1 Jun 1932, Wg Cdr: 1 Apr 1937, (T) Gp Capt: 1 Mar 1940, (T) A/Cdre: 1 Nov 1942, Gp Capt: 20 Nov 1942 [1 Apr 1942], A/Cdre: 1 Oct 1946, Act AVM: 14 Oct 1946, AVM: 1 Jan 1949, Act AM: 1 Oct 1952?.

Photo (left) - taken from his RAeC Certificate

Photo (right) - Sir Francis John Williamson Mellersh

by Walter Stoneman
bromide print, 1953
NPG x186587

© National Portrait Gallery, London

xx xxx 1916:           U/T Pilot,

xx xxx 1917:           Pilot, ?

 7 Jun 1917:            Pilot, No 9 Squadron RNAS.

 1 Apr 1918:           Pilot, No 209 Sqn.

 3 May 1918:          Returned to Home Establishment

28 Aug 1918:          Flight Commander, No 209 Sqn.

1918                       Instructor?, No 4 Fighter School, Freiston.

24 Oct 1919:           Awarded Short Service Commission in the rank of Flying Officer (Aeroplane)

24 Dec 1919:          Transferred to the Unemployed List

 9 Apr 1921:           Restored to the Active List for Temporary Duty in the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

11 Aug 1921:          Awarded Short Service Commission in the rank of Flying Officer

11 Aug 1921           Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

 7 Mar 1922:           Pilot, No 84 Sqn.

23 Dec 1923:          Staff/QFI, No 4 FTS.

 1 Mar 1926:           QFI, No 2 FTS.

 1 Jun 1926:            Appointed to Permanent Commission in the RAF in the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

26 May 1929:         QFI, Oxford University Air Sqn./Officer i/c, Station Flight, RAF Upper Heyford

23 Jan 1933:           Attended RAF Staff College.

26 Feb 1934:          Air Staff, HQ Iraq Command.

21 May 1936:         Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

10 Jul 1936:            Maintenance Liaison Officer, HQ Armament Group.

xx xxx xxxx:            Air Staff, HQ Armament Group.

 1 Dec 1937:          Air Staff, HQ No 25 (Armament) Group.

 9 Dec 1938:           Directing Staff, RAF Staff College.

25 Aug 1939:         Maintenance Staff Officer, HQ Maintenance Command.

12 Jun 1940:           Deputy Director of Organisation (MT)/(8).

xx xxx 1941:           Officer Commanding, RAF Wattisham.

 5 Oct 1942:            SASO, No 222 Group.

11 May 1943:         SASO, AHQ Bengal.

7 Jan 1944:             AOC, No 231 (Bomber) Group.

20 Jun 1944:           Air Commander, Strategic Air Force, Eastern Air Command.

xx Jul 1945:            Commandant, RAF Staff College (Allied Wing), Bulstrode.

14 Oct 1946:           AOC, No 91 Group.

 1 May 1947:           AOC, No 21 Group.

20 Aug 1948:          AOA, HQ Air Command Far East.

13 May 1949:          AOC, AHQ Malaya.

19 Mar 1951:          AOA, HQ Bomber Command.

 1 Oct 1952:            Commandant-General of the RAF Regiment and Inspector of Ground Combat Training.

28 Sep 1954:          Retired on account of medical unfitness for air force service

He joined the RNAS in 1916 being awarded RAeC No 4216 on 8 February 1917, was posted to France and eventually joined No 9 (Naval) Squadron, later in 1917.  He claimed 5 victories with the squadron, which became 209 Squadron on 1 April 1918, including one on the 21 April in a combat during which 209 fought Manfred von Richthofen unit and the ‘Red Baron’ was killed.

Strangely he was appointed a Flight Lieutenant in the August 1919 Air Force List, but in October he reverts to Flying Officer and two month later joins the Unemployed List.  He rejoined the RAF in August 1921.  On 8 June 1922 he was slightly injured whilst flying DH9A, E786 which stalled and spun into the ground on taking off from Shaibah.

Awarded the KBE for his services in Malaya between 1 December 1949 and 31 May 1950.  The Times announced that he was to be appointed to the post of Commandant-General of the RAF Regiment in the rank of Acting Air Marshal, but this is not confirmed by the Air Force Lists.

Unfortunately he did not live to enjoy a long retirement, being killed in a bizarre accident in 1955.  A member of the Itchenor Yacht Club, he had arranged to cruise over to Cherbourg that weekend with a naval friend, Lt Commander Baring.  Lt Commander Baring had organised a helicopter to bring him down to Itchenor where the pilot hovered it over a jetty allowing him to step out.  Whilst Baring was being greeted by Sir Francis, the helicopter was ascending to depart when it’s rotors struck the mast of a yacht and crashed on its side.  The main rotor struck Sir Francis on the head and Lt Commander Baring was struck by the tail rotor, both being killed instantly.  The pilot escaped uninjured.

This page was last updated on 12/12/23

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