Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Marshal of the RAF Sir John Salmond

J M Salmond - 1912Sir John Maitland SalmondJohn Maitland                   b: 17 July 1881                        r: 1 Apr 1933              d: 16 Apr 1968

GCB - 3 Jun 1931 (KCB - 1 Jan 1919), CMG - 4 Jun 1917, CVO - 27 Aug 1918, DSO - 18 Feb 1915, Bar - 24 Mar 1915, MiD - 19 Oct 1914 (& 9 Dec 1914), MiD - 1 Jan 1916, MiD - 15 Jun 1916, MiD - 27 Jul 1917, MiD - 20 May 1918, MiD - 31 Dec 1918, MiD - 10 Apr 1919, LoH, O - 10 Oct 1918, Cwn Cdr - 8 Nov 1918, C de G (B) - 8 Nov 1918, Leo Cdr - 8 Nov 1918, WE - xx xxx 191?, DSM (US) - 15 Jul 1919, C de G (F) - 21 Aug 1919, Hon DCL (Oxford), Hon LL.D (Cambridge) -xx xxx 1919

or a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(Army): - 2 Lt: 8 Jan 1901, (L) Lt: 14 Nov 1903, Lt: 5 Apr 1904, Capt: 26 Jun 1910, (T) Maj: 1 May 1914, (B) Maj:  22 Jun 1914, Maj: 8 Jan1916, (T) Lt Col: 13 Apr 1915, (B) Lt Col: 3 Jun 1916, (T) Brig-Gen: 1 Feb 1916, (T) Maj-Gen: 22 Jun 1917, (B) Col:  7 Dec 1917.

(RAF): - Maj-Gen: 1 Apr 1918 [2 Apr 1918], AVM: 1 Aug 1919 [1 Apr 1918], AM: 2 Jun 1923 [1 Aug 1919], ACM: 1 Jan 1929, MRAF: 1 Jan 1933.

Photo (Far left) - taken from his RAeC Certificate

Photo (left) - Sir John Maitland Salmond

by Bassano Ltd
bromide print
NPG x85397

National Portrait Gallery, London

xx xxx xxxx:  Attended RMC Sandhurst.

 8 Jan 1901:   Officer, Unattached List

xx xxx 1901:    Attended Musketry Course, Hythe

 9 Mar 1901:   Officer, King's Own Royal Lancashire Regiment

24 Jun 1901:  Served in South Africa

 9 Mar 1903:    Served in UK

14 Nov 1903: Officer, West African Frontier Force

5 Apr 1904:    Seconded for service under the Colonial Office

15 Jan 1905:    Served in UK

xx xxx 1905:   Attended School of Military Engineering

21 Jun 1905:   From Supernumerary Lieutenant to Lieutenant

26 Nov 1906:  Placed on temporary half pay  due to ill health.

26 Apr 1907:  Restored to establishment as Supernumerary Lieutenant of Territorial Battalion of Royal Lancashire Regiment. (originally gazetted as 4 May 1907)

17 Aug 1912:  'Wings' Course, Central Flying School.

12 Nov 1912:  'D' Flight Commander, Central Flying School.

31 May 1913: Squadron Commander, Central Flying School.

 1 May 1914:   Officer Commanding, No 7 Sqn (Sopwith Tabloid, BE8 Farnborough)

12 Aug 1914:  Officer Commanding, No 3 Sqn. (Various types Western Front)

13 Apr 1915:  Officer Commanding, Administrative Wing, Farnborough.

18 Aug 1915:   Re-embarked for France

19 Aug 1915:   Officer Commanding, Advanced Wing/2nd Wing RFC

 1 Feb 1916:    Appointed Brigade Commander

10 Feb 1916:   Posted to II Brigade RFC

15 Feb 1916:   Returned to Home Establishment

16 Feb 1916:   Brigadier-General Commanding, V Brigade RFC

 9 Mar 1916:   Brigadier-General Commanding, VI Brigade RFC

xx Jul 1916:     Brigadier-General Commanding, Training Brigade RFC

xx Aug 1917:   GOC, Training Division

18 Oct 1917:   Director-General of Military Aeronautics, War Office.

18 Jan 1918:    GOC, RFC in the Field.

6-11 Feb 1918:        On Special duty

 1 Apr 1918:    GOC, RAF in the Field.

28-30 Apr 1918:        Temporary duty in England

11-12 May 1918:       Temporary duty in England

9-10 May 1918:         Temporary duty in Paris

24-26 May 1918:       Temporary duty in England

30-31 May 1918:       Temporary duty in Paris

13-15 Jun 1918:        Temporary duty in England

2-4 Jul 1918:            Temporary duty in England

6-9 Jul 1918:            Temporary duty in England

24-25 Jul 1918:        Temporary duty in Paris

25-27 Sep 1918:       Temporary duty in England

20-22 Nov 1918:       Temporary duty in England

 7 May 1919:   Officer Commanding, HQ Rhine.

 9 Jul 1919:      Relinguished command of HQ Rhine (proceeded on leave)

22 Jul 1919:     Returned to Home Establishment

 1 Aug 1919:           Resigned his commission in the Royal Lancashire Regiment on appointment to a Permanent Commission in the RAF.

 1 Aug 1919:    Awarded Permanent Commission as a Major-General

Major General Sir William Salmond with his two sons, Sir Geoffrey and Sir John

Major General Sir William Salmond with his two sons, Sir Geoffrey and Sir John

John Salmond in Trench Coat handing documents  ( reconnaissance report) in with Geoff standing behind him.

John Salmond in Trench Coat handing documents  ( reconnaissance report) in with Geoff standing behind him.

Photos courtesy Gp Capt D Baker (Sir Geoffrey's Great-Nephew)


19 Aug 1919:   AOC, South-Eastern Area?

15 Sep 1919:    AOC, Southern Area.

 1 Apr 1920:     AOC, Inland Area.

26 May 1922:   On Special Duty in India.

1 Oct 1922:      GOC/AOC, Iraq Command

 9 Oct 1924:      Placed on half pay list, Scale A.

 1 Jan 1925:      AOC in C, Air Defence of Great Britain.

26 May 1928:   On loan to Australian Government.

 1 Jan 1929:      Air Member for Personnel

 1 Jan 1930:      Chief of the Air Staff

 1 Apr 1933:      Relinquished his appointment as CAS and placed on half pay.

 3 Apr 1933:      Restored to full pay as an additional (temporary) member of the Air Council.

22 May 1933:    Relinquished his appointment as an additional (temporary) member of the Air Council.

John Salmond and his elder brother, Geoffrey, would become the only brothers to both hold the post of Chief of the Air Staff and although John was the youngest, he would lead the promotion race between them throughout their careers.   He was educated at Wellington before entering the RMC at Sandhurst, but finding the life of an infantry officer on garrison duty somewhat lacking he decided to learn to fly.  Gaining RAeC Certificate No 272 on 13 August 1912, he then joined the first course at the CFS where on graduating he was immediately appointed to the staff as an instructor.  This was followed by a posting to Farnborough where he was involved in some early test flying, particularly of the SE4.  An incident during his command of No 3, showed his level of compassion.  When the pilot and a number of others were killed when a bomb exploded  whilst being loaded onto one of his aircraft, he immediately cleared the area and insisted on removing the debris himself.

In  August 1917 he was appointed to a seat on the Army Council as Director-General of Military Aeronautics and in October he joined the newly created Air Council in the same post. However, with the forthcoming formation of the RAF and the appointment of Trenchard as CAS, Salmond returned to France to replace Trenchard as GOC of the RFC in France.  Originally intending to leave the RAF and enter civil aviation, Trenchard returned to the post of CAS just in time to convince Salmond that he should Remain in the post-war RAF.   In 1922, John Salmond travelled to India to assess the air situation following complaints from RAF personnel stationed there.  Unfortunately, although many of the problems faced by the RAF in India were obvious, the solutions were not.  The RAF in India was actually funded by the Indian Government and not from the UK and so although his recommendations were accepted many of them were slow in materialising. 

Instead of returning home he was sent to Iraq where he became the first RAF officer to be given command of all British Forces, both land and air, in a particular area.  This resulted from Trenchard's suggestion that air control of areas such as Iraq could be cheaper than conventional land forces.  As a result of his success in completing operations against Sheikh Mahmoud in 1923, the Prime Minister authorised his immediate promotion to Air Marshal.

Returning to the UK, he became the first AOC in C of the newly independent Air Defence of Great Britain, which was to administer the fighter and bomber elements of the RAF, leaving Inland Area responsible for the non-operational aspects including training and for some reason Army Co-operation.  During 1928, he was asked by the Governments of both Australia and New Zealand to visit their countries and advise them on the future development of their Air Forces.   As CAS, Salmond successfully built on the foundations laid by Trenchard and continued the fight to maintain the RAF's independence from the others two services.  Resigning in April 1933 to be replaced by his elder brother, Sir Geoffrey, he found himself in the unenviable position of having to temporarily re-occupy the post owing to the death of his brother whilst in office.

Finally handing over to Sir Edward Ellington in 1934, he continued to take an active interest in the RAF and remained involved wherever possible.  On 28 January 1936 he was a mourner at the funeral of HM King George V.  He was appointed a Government Director of Imperial Airways and in 1938 accepted chairmanship of the Air Defence Cadet Corps, formed by the Air League of the British Empire.

At the start of World War Two he accepted the appointment of Director of Armament Production at the Ministry of Aircraft Production. He was also asked to chair a number of committees including the Night Defence Committee in 1940.  Not always in agreement with the Minister of Aircraft Production, Lord Beaverbrook he resigned in 1941 but was almost immediately asked by Portal (CAS) to become Director-General of Flying Control and Air Sea Rescue.   He finally retired due to ill health in 1943, but continued to take an active interest in the fortunes of the RAF until his death, being made a Freeman of the City of London in 1957.  

This page was last updated on 18/10/22

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