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Air Marshal Sir Robert Saundby

Air Marshal Sir Robert SaundbyRobert Henry Magnus Spencer     b: 26 Apr 1896         r: 22 Mar 1946             d: 25 Sep 1971

KCB - 2 Jan 1956 (CB - 11 Jun 1942), KBE - 1 Jan 1944, MC - 5 Jul 1917, DFC - 22 Jan 1926, AFC – 1 Jan 1919, FRAeS, MiD - xx xxx 191?, MiD - 24 Sep 1941, MiD – 1 Jan 1942, MiD – 1 Jan 1946, LoH, O - xx xxx 1945, LoM (Cdr) - 7 Mar 1947, LeoII (GO) - 27 Jun 1947, CdeG (P) (B) - 27 Jun 1947, DL (Berkshire) - 9 May 1960. 

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

1st Prize, 'Gordon-Shephard' Competition – 1932, 3rd Prize, 'Gordon-Shephard' Competition – 1933, 2nd Prize, 'Gordon-Shephard' Competition - 1935

(Army): - 2 Lt: 15 Jun 1915, Lt: 1 Jun 1916, (T) Capt: 20 Feb 1917 [1 Jun 1916],

(RAF): - Capt: 1 Apr 1918, Flt Lt: 1 Aug 1919 [1 Apr 1918], Sqn Ldr: 1 Jul 1925, Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1933, Act Gp Capt (unpd): 18 Sep 1937, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1938, Act A/Cdre: xx xxx xxxx, Act AVM: 22 Apr 1940, (T) A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1940, A/Cdre (WS): 22 Apr 1941, (T) AVM: 1 Dec 1941, A/Cdre: 14 Apr 1942 [1 Jul 1940], AVM: 1 Jun 1943, Act AM: 15 Feb 1944, AM: Retained.

Photograph © Crown Copyright




xx xxx 1914:   Private, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, Territorial Force.

15 Jun 1915:     Officer, 5th & 6th Battalions,  Royal Warwickshire Regiment, Territorial Force.

xx Jan 1916:      U/T Pilot, RFC.

18 Jul 1916:     Embarked for France

20 Jul 1916:     Pilot, No 2 AD

25 Jul 1916:     Flying Officer, No 24 Sqn RFC. (DH2 – Western Front)

31 Jul 1916:     Wounded

18 Feb 1917:    Acting Flight Commander, No 41 Sqn RFC. (FE8 – Western Front)

20 Feb 1917:    Flight Commander, No 41 Sqn RFC. (FE8 – Western Front)

31 Mar 1917    Returned to Home Establishment

xx xxx 1917:     Pilot, Orfordness Experimental Station RFC.

20 Feb 1917:   Flight Commander, No 11 Training Squadron RFC – Scampton.

xx xxx 1919:     Attended Flying Boat Pilots' Course.

xx xxx 1919:     Attended School of Naval Co-operation.

28 Oct 1919:   Granted a Permanent Commission in the rank of Flight Lieutenant (effective from 1 Aug)

27 Feb 1920:    Instructor, No 1 FTS.

17 Feb 1922:    Flight Commander, No 45 Sqn. (Vimy, Vernon – Egypt/Hinaidi)

24 Mar 1925:    Officer Commanding, Aden Flight.

 9 Dec 1925:     QFI, No 4 FTS.

15 Oct 1926:    Flight Commander, No 58 Sqn. (Virginia – Worthy Down)

19 Sep 1927:   Attended RAF Staff College.

17 Dec 1928:   Air Staff, HQ Wessex Bombing Area.

 1 Jun 1931:     Air Staff, Directorate of Operations and Intelligence.

17 Jan 1933:    Attended Imperial Defence College.

 1 Jan 1934:     Directing Staff, RAF Staff College.

 4 Jan 1937:     Deputy Director of Operations.

18 Jan 1938:     Deputy Director of Operational Requirements.

22 Dec 1938:    Director of Operational Requirements

22 Apr 1940:     Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Operational Requirements and Tactics).

21 Nov 1940:   SASO, HQ Bomber Command.

30 Jul 1943:      Deputy AOC in C, Bomber Command

The son of Professor Robert Saundby, he left King Edward's School, Birmingham in 1913 and joined the Traffic Department of the London and North Western Railway.  

24 Sqn was the first unit to be equipped with the pusher engined DH2 and was the first RFC squadron established in the Scout (i.e. fighter) role.  The squadron was commanded by one of the RFC's most famous pilots at that stage of the war, Major Lanoe Hawker VC and soon made a name for itself as a destroyer of  Fokkers with ‘Sandy’ Saundby contributing to this reputation.  On 23 November 1916, he was one of three other pilots on patrol with Major Hawker when they were attacked by Baron Manfred Von Richtofen and members of his 'flying circus'.  Putting up a spirited defence and managing to force down a number of German aircraft, Saundby survived the encounter but not all the patrol had been so lucky, Major Hawker having fallen to the guns of Richtofen himself.  He gained three victories with 24, a further one with 41 and shared in the destruction of Zeppelin L48 to bring his total to five. 

His MC was awarded in recognition of conspicuous gallantry in attacking and destroying an enemy airship, whilst his DFC was awarded in recognition of gallant and distinguished service in the Hinterland of Aden. 

Retired on account of being medically unfit for Air Force service.  Awarded KCB for his post-RAF role as Vice-Chairman, Council of Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Association.

Announcement for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

SAUNDBY, Robert Henry Magnus Spencer, S/L, MC, AFC

"in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the hinterland of Aden." 

(London Gazette - 22 Jan 1926)

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

SAUNDBY, Robert Henry Magnus Spencer, S/L, MC, AFC

"For courage and devotion to duty as Officer Commanding, Aden Flight.

During the recent operations over the dangerous and difficult country of the Hinterland of Aden, this officer led his unit, frequently under adverse weather conditions and in face of considerable opposition, with great skill and determination, and by his exceptional ability, zeal, energy and foresight ensured the successful progress of the operation."

(Source - Air 30/66)

Recommendation for the award of Legion of Honour (France)

"SAUNDBY, Robert Henry Magnus Spencer, A/M Sir, KBE, CB, MC, DFC, AFC - Headquarters, Bomber Command

As Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Bomber Command, Air Marshal Sir Robert Saundby was responsible in a large measure for planning the air operations directly concerned with the liberation of France both before and after the invasion of Normandy.  This officer has displayed the utmost zeal and ability in his exacting duties."

(Source - Air 2/9141 & Air 2/9645)

This page was last updated on 27/08/23©

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