Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation
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b: 4 Apr
18 Jul 1983
KCB – 14 Jun 1980 (CB – 3 Jun 1978), CBE – 10 Jun 1967 (OBE – 13 Jun 1959), CIMgt (CBIM, MBIM), MIPM.
AC2: xx xxx xxxx, LAC: xx xxx xxxx, Plt Off: 8 Sep 1944, Fg Off (WS): 8 Mar 1945, Fg Off: 24 Apr 1947 [8 Sep 1945], Flt Lt: 8 Mar 1948, Sqn Ldr: 1 Jan 1955, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1959, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1966, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1971, Act AVM: 20 Aug 1975, AVM: 1 Jul 1976, Act AM: 3 May 1980, AM: 1 Jul 1980.
xx xxx 1943: U/T Navigator
xx xxx 1944: Navigation Instructor, Canada
24 Apr 1947: Appointed to extended Commission (4 years on the active list) as a Flying Officer (retaining rank current at the time) [seniority 8 Sep 1945]
8 May 1947: Commission extended to 8 years.
20 Jul 1949: Appointed to a Permanent Commission in the rank of Flight Lieutenant
29 Feb 1960: Officer i/c Flying, RAF Waddington.
xx Jun 1962: Officer Commanding, British Joint Trials Force.
xx xxx 1965: Officer Commanding, RAF Steamer Point - Aden.
10 Nov 1967: Deputy Director of Manning.
28 Aug 1971: Air Commander, Gibraltar.
12 Jan 1974: Director of Organisation and Admin. Plans.
20 Aug 1975: Commander, HQ Southern Maritime Air Region.
6 Nov 1976: Director-General of Personnel Management.
3 May 1980: Air Member for Personnel.
Charles Ness started his connection with the RAF as a member of the University Air Squadron whilst at Edinburgh University following his early education at George Heriot's School. Joining the RAF in 1943 he trained as a Navigator, he was commissioned and retained as an instructor within the Commonwealth Air Training Scheme in Canada. Throughout his career he wore the Winged 'O' flying badge but was not actually entitled to do so.
Remaining in the RAF post-war, he was highly involved in the introduction to service of the Canberra, the RAF's first jet bomber. During this period he experienced the advantages of the newly introduced ejector seat when he was forced to bale out of his Canberra over Manby.
In 1962 he was selected to command the British 'Skybolt' Trials Team based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The Skybolt was designed as a long range 'stand off' weapon with which the RAF intended to equip the Vulcan of the V-Force. However, cancellation of the project by the Americans lead ultimately to the Nuclear Deterrent passing into the hands of the Royal Navy with Polaris.
Another overseas posting came with his appointment as Station Commander at RAF Steamer Point in Aden. This command brought with it various problems from the growing terrorist threat and from natural disasters such as the flooding following Aden's worst ever storm on 1 April 1967.
A move further along the Mediterranean came in 1971 when he assumed the re-introduced posts of Air Commander, Gibraltar (a NATO post) and Commander, RAF Gibraltar. He returned to the UK in 1974 and a series of staff and senior command appointments both RAF and NATO. His final appointment was as Air Member for Personnel but his connection with the RAF did not end there. After retirement he continued to work on behalf of the RAF Benevolent Fund as a member of the Council, Chairman of the Fund's Education Committee and the Board of Governors of the Fund's school, the Duke of Kent. From 1983 he was retained as Military Adviser to ICL until his untimely death in a road accident in 1994.
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C R G Neville
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