Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

 

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Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Peirse


ACM Sir Richard PeirseRichard Edmund Charles  

b: 30 Sep 1892                  r: 6 May 1945                    d: 5 Aug 1970

KCB - 11 Jul 1940 (CB - 6 Nov 1936), DSO - 10 Apr 1915, AFC - 1 Jan 1919, MiD - 17 Feb 1915, MiD - 3 Jun 1918, MiD - 3 Dec 1942, C de G (I) - 5 Apr 1919, PR2 - 29 May 1942, ON(GC) - 12 Jan 1943, LoM (Cdr) - 15 Mar 1946, CBD (SN) - 29 Jul 1947.

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(RNVR/RNAS): - Mid'n: xx xxx xxxx, Sub-Lt: 1 Nov 1912, Flt Lt: 1 Jul 1914, Flt Cdr: 7 May 1915, Sqn Cdr: 30 Jun 1916, Act Wg Cdr: 31 Dec 1917.

(RAF): - (T) Lt Col: 1 Apr 1918, Sqn Ldr: 1 Aug 1919, Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1922, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1929, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1933, AVM: 1 Jan 1936, Act AM: 30 Oct 1939, (T) AM: 1 Jul 1940, AM: 14 Apr 1942 [1 Jul 1940], (T) ACM: 1 Jul 1942, ACM: Retained.  

Photograph Crown Copyright

xx xxx xxxx:           Midshipman, RNVR,

 1 Nov 1912:           Officer, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

 1 Oct 1913:            Attached to Grain Island NAS.

6 May 1914:            Assistant Instructor, Central Flying School.

 7 May 1915:           Flight Commander, No 4 Sqn/Wing RNAS.

xx xxx 1915:            Flight Commander, No 2 Wing RNAS.

1915                        Flight Commander, No 5 Sqn RNAS (Dover)

1916                        Flight Commander, No 4 Wing, Eastchurch.

30 Jun 1916:            Squadron Commander, RNAS.

1917                        Squadron Commander?, RNAS Cranwell.

31 Dec 1917:           Officer Commanding, ? Wing (Dover)

 1 Apr 1918:            Officer Commanding, No 222 Sqn.

 5 Jun 1919:             Officer Commanding, Aircraft in Fighting Ships, No 29 Group.

xx xxx 1920:            Staff Officer, HQ No 29 Group. (following disbandment of Aircraft in Fighting Ships)

 1 Apr 1922:            Attended RAF Staff College - Andover.

 4 Apr 1923:            Officer Commanding, RAF Base - Gosport.

15 Sep 1925:           Air Staff, Deputy Directorate of Staff Duties.

 8 Jan 1927:             Attended Imperial Defence College.

 3 Feb 1928:            Air Staff, HQ RAF Middle East.

25 Sep 1929:           Officer Commanding, RAF Heliopolis.

 8 Jul - 31 Dec1930:    Placed on half pay list, Scale B.

17 Nov 1930:          Supernumerary, HQ Coastal Area

18 Dec 1930:           Deputy Director of Operations and Intelligence.

11 Aug 1932:           Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

xx xxx 1933:            AOC, Palestine Transjordan Command.

25 Jan 1937:            Deputy Chief of the Air Staff/Director of Operations and Intelligence.

30 Oct 1939:           Appointed additional member of the Air Council.

22 Apr 1940:           Vice-Chief of the Air Staff.

 5 Oct 1940:            AOC in C, Bomber Command.

 6 Mar 1942:            AOC in C, Air Forces in India.

16 Nov 1943:          C in C, Air Command South-East Asia.

The son of Admiral Sir Richard Peirse, his own son would also become Sir Richard (AVM) thereby making them possibly the only Father, son and grandson combination to reach Air/Flag Rank.  He was educated at Monkton Combe, HMS Conway and at King's College, London.  He gained his RAeC certificate (No 460) on 22 Apr 1913. In 1913 he worked with Lt R H Clark-Hall on bomb dropping and armament trials at Eastchurch.  Whilst stationed at Cranwell he was tasked with giving Prince Albert (later King George VI) his first air experience flight.  A  restructuring of the Air Council in 1940 saw the introduction of the new post of Vice Chief of the Air Staff with him as it's first incumbent

Appointed AOC in C in India, he immediately set about building up the air there in preparation, initially, for the defence of India and then the more long term aim of recapturing occupied territory. On arrival in India he quickly appreciated the need to decentralise command and created AHQ Delhi, where he was based and AHQ Bengal to control the units operating in the Eastern part of India.  He also set up an number of new subordinate groups, but was soon under attack from the Air Ministry for taking what to them was a highly expensive approach to the problem.  The matter was soon resolved following a tour of inspection by the Inspector General of the RAF, ACM Sir Edgar Ludlow-Hewitt, who found that the operational reasons far outweighed the financial problems.  His RAF career was brought to a somewhat abrupt end in 1944 when he eloped with the wife of General Sir Claude Auckinleck.  

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order

"For services rendered in the aerial attack on Dunkirk,23rd January,1915

Squadron Commander Richard Bell Davies

Flight Lieutenant Richard Edmund Charles Peirse

These Officers have repeatedly attacked the German submarine station at Ostend and Zeebrugge, being subjected on each occasion to heavy and accurate fire, their machines being frequently hit In particular, on 23rd January, they each discharged eight bombs in an attack upon submarines alongside the mole at Zeebrugge, flying down to close range At the outset of this flight Lieutenant Davies was severely wounded by a bullet in the thigh, but nevertheless he accomplished his task, handling his machine for an hour with great skill in spite of pain and loss of blood"

(London Gazette 10 April 1915)

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