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Air Commodore C R Samson


C R Samson - 1911Charles Rumney                       b: 8 Jul 1883                r: 6 Nov 1929              d: 5 Feb 1931

CMG - 3 Jun 1919, DSO - 21 Oct 1914, Bar - 19 Jan 1917, AFC - 1 Jan 1919, MiD - 17 Feb 1915, MiD - 14 Mar 1916, LoH, C - 12 Jan 1916.  2nd Prize, 'Gordon-Shephard ' Comp - 1922

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(RN): - Mid’n:  xx xxx 1898, Act Sub-Lt: xx xxx xxxx, Sub-Lt: 15 May 1902, Lt: 30 Sep 1904, Act Cdr: xx Jan 1912,

 (RAF): - (T) Col [Lt Col]: 1 Apr 1918, Act Col: 1 May 1919, Wg Cdr: 1 Aug 1919, Gp Capt: 5 Aug 1919, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1922 [1 Aug 1919]:

xx xxx 1897:   Attended Britannia Naval College.

xx xxx 1898:   Midshipman, HMS ?.

xx xxx 1903:   Officer, HMS Pomone. (Persian Gulf, Somaliland)

xx Jan 1904:   Officer, Boy’s Training Ships. (Northampton and Hawke)

xx xxx 1906:   Officer Commanding, Torpedo Boat No 81.

xx Feb 1908:   Officer, HMS Commonwealth

xx xxx 1909:   First Lieutenant, HMS Philomel. (Persian Gulf)  

xx Sep 1910:   First Lieutenant, HMS Forsight

xx xxx 1911:     U/T Pilot, Eastchurch

xx Oct 1911:    Officer Commanding, NAS Eastchurch

 1 Apr 1912:    Officer Commanding, Naval Flying School - NAS Eastchurch  

xx May 1912:   Commandant, Naval Wing, RFC.

 1 Jul 1914:      Officer Commanding, Eastchurch (Mobile) Squadron RNAS (renamed No 3 Sqn RNAS)

 1 Sep 1914     Officer Commanding, No 3 Sqn RNAS (renamed No 3 Wing)

 8 Oct 1914:      ?

xx Oct 1914     Officer Commanding, No 3 Sqn RNAS (renamed No 3 Wing)

xx Mar 1915?:  Officer Commanding, No 3 Wing RNAS. (Gallipoli)

xx xxx 1915:     Officer Commanding, HMS Ben My Chree. (Palestine/Red Sea)  

xx May 1916:    Officer Commanding, East Indies and Egypt Seaplane Sqn, RNAS (HMS Ben My Chree/HMS Raven)

 5 Nov 1917:   Officer Commanding, RNAS Great Yarmouth.  

 1 Apr 1918:     Officer Commanding, No ? Group.

xx Oct 1918:    Officer Commanding, No 4 Group.

24 Mar 1919:  

 1 Aug 1919:    Awarded Permanent Commission as a Lieutenant Colonel

22 Sep 1919:   Group Captain (Air)/Chief Staff Officer, HQ Coastal Area.

22 Jan 1920:     Removed from the Navy Lists on being awarded Permanent Commission in RAF

 7 Mar 1921:    Attended RN Staff College, Greenwich.

30 Jun 1921:     Supernumerary?, RAF Depot

18 Aug 1921:   Officer Commanding, Mediterranean Group. (AOC from 1 Jan 1922)

 7 Dec 1921:     Appointed to be a Member of the Nominated Council for Malta.

 1 Apr 1922:    AOC, RAF Mediterranean

 2 Feb 1923:    Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

12 May 1923 - 26 Feb 1924:    Placed on half pay list, Scale A

19 May 1924:  AOC, No 6 Group.

20 May 1926:  Supernumerary, RAF Depot.   

19 Jun 1926:    Chief Staff Officer, HQ RAF Middle East.

19 Aug 1927 -  1 Oct 1928:    Placed on half pay list, Scale A.

 1 Oct 1928:    Chief Staff Officer, HQ Fighting Area.

This son of a Solicitor from Manchester was destined to play one of the leading roles in the development of naval air power during the early part of the 20th Century.  In 1910, he was one of the first four Naval officers selected to undertake pilot training, gaining his RAeC Certificate (No 71) on 25 April 1911.  As CO of Eastchurch he was also in charge of the Naval Wing, RFC and as such remained primarily involved in the development of aircraft for naval purposes. Amongst the numerous experimental flights he carried out were the first take offs from both a ship at anchor (in the UK) (Short-Sommer Pusher Biplane from HMS Africa on 10 January 1912) and a moving ship (same aircraft as on 10 January, this time from HMS Hibernia on 2 May 1912).  He was also involved in developing bomb dropping sights and equipment as well as conducting early night landing trials (without lights).   With the outbreak of WW1, the Eastchurch Squadron was sent to Ostend in Belgium in order to combat the expected Zeppelin menace and it was from here that Charles Samson carried out the first night bombing mission in history on 12 December 1914 in a Maurice Farman aircraft (No 1241).   It was at this time that he instituted the use of armoured cars to attack German lines of communications and in September 1914 used both aircraft and cars to occupy Lille.  The composite unit he commanded consisted of the Ben-my-Chree, Empress, Anne, Raven II and the air unit at Port Said. 

Another field of air warfare in which he was involved in developing was that of strategic bombing.  In 1917, he was appointed commander, once again, of No 3 Wing RNAS now tasked with carrying out attacks on targets well behind the enemy lines and equipped for the purpose with the large Handley Page 0/100 bomber.  Returning from the Middle East he was given command of the group based at Great Yarmouth and here he set about even more pioneering work designing lighters from which Camels could be flown in order to intercept Zeppelins over the North Sea.  He conducted the first sea trials himself and very nearly died when his aircraft fell over the bow and the lighter ran over both him and the aircraft.  However following modifications the idea proved highly successful and by the end of the war pilots under his command had shot down five Zeppelins. However, before that he returning to the Middle East, once again, this time as Chief Staff Officer and it was in this appointment that he carried out his last great pioneering feats.  In 1926 and 1927, he led two record breaking flights, the first, a return flight from Cairo to Aden (16 - 29 September 1926) and the second from Cairo to Cape Town (30 March - 22 May 1927).  The routes used by Samson and the facilities established on the journey would later be used to establish the civilian air routes of Imperial Airways and other airlines. However, having suffered personal trauma resulting in divorce he retired early but remarried in 1924, however, his problems had taken their toll and he died in 1931 at the age of 47.

Memorandum by the Director of the Air Department, Admiralty - London Gazette 23 October 1914.

"Commander Charles R. Samson, R.N., was in command of the Aeroplane and Armoured Motor Support of the Royal Naval Air Service (Naval Wing) at Dunkerque, .between the dates 1st September to 5th October.

During this period several notable air reconnaissances were made, and skirmishes took place.  Of these particular mention may be made of the Aeroplane attack on 4th September on 4 enemy cars and 40 men, on which occasion several bombs were dropped; and of the successful skirmishes at Cassel on 4th September, Savy on 12th September, Aniche on 22nd September, Orchies on 23rd September."

Announcement of the award to the Bar to his DSO: -

"Admiralty,19th January,1917.

The KING has been graciously pleased to give orders for the award of a Bar to the Distinguished Service Order of the undermentioned officer, in recognition of his continued gallantry and distinguished services as a Flying Officer: -

Commander Charles Rumney Samson, D.S.O., R.N. (Wing Commander, R.N.A.S.).

(The appointment to the Distinguished Service Order was announced in London Gazette, dated 23rd October,1914.)"

(London Gazette - 23 Jan 1917)

Further reading: - ‘Fights and Flights’  

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