Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

 

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Air Vice-Marshal Sir Oliver Swann


Oliver                           b: xx xxx 1878             r: 2 Nov 1929              d: 7 Mar 1948

KCB - 1 Jan 1924 (CB - 1 Jan 1919), CBE - 3 Jun 1919.

(RN): - Midín: xx xxx 1895, Act Sub-Lt:  xx xxx xxxx, Sub-Lt:  15 Apr 1898, Lt: xx xxx xxxx,  Cdr: xx xxx xxxx, Capt: 30 Jun 1914,  Wg Capt: 9 Nov 1914.

(RAF): - (T) Brig-Gen (Col): 1 Apr 1918, Col: 1 Apr 1918,  Act Brig-Gen: 1 May 1919, A/Cdre: 1 Aug 1919,  AVM: 30 Jun 1922 [1 Aug 1919], A/Cdre: 28 Aug 1939.

xx xxx 1895:       Normal Naval duties.

xx xxx xxxx:       Officer, HMS Vernon

15 Jan 1910:       Officer Commanding, HMS Niger

xx xxx 19?:         Assistant Inspecting Captain of Aircraft.

xx Nov 1912:       Assistant Director of the Air Department, Admiralty.

1914                    Port Capt:

xx Apr 1915:        Officer Commanding, HMS Campania.

xx xxx 1917/18:    Officer Commanding,  Orkneys Division.

12 Aug 1918:       Deputy Chief of the Air Staff.

 2 Apr 1919:        AOC, Mediterranean District.

 1 Aug 1919:        Awarded Permanent Commission as a Colonel

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

 1 Apr 1920:        AOC, Mediterranean Group.

 1 Jun 1920:         AOC, Egyptian Group.

Jan/Feb 1922        Director of Personnel.

xx xxx 1923:        Air Member for Personnel.

27 Nov 1923:       AOC, RAF Middle East.

 2 Sep 1939:         Relinquished rank of AVM on being re-employed.

 2 Sep 1939:        AOC, RAF Halton/Commandant, No 1 SoTT (Apprentices).

20 Jul 1940:          Reverted to Retired List as AVM.

20 Jul 1940 - xx xxx 1943:    Air Liaison Officer, North Midland Region.

Born with the surname Schwann, he anglicised it in 1917 after making a forced landing on Scarborough race course in a German Mars aeroplane. With a German sounding name, flying a German aircraft still in its' German markings, he was very nearly shot by the local army.  His flying career started before WW1, having gained RAeC Certificate No 203 on 16 April 1912.  Having been appointed Assistant to Captain Murray Sueter he was involved in the development and construction of the Navyís first airship, The Mayfly.  When the Mayfly broke itís back due to structural weaknesses, development was halted and he turned to heavier-then-air machines.  He bought himself an Avro biplane, fitted it with floats and carried out the first take off by a British pilot from salt water.  However at this point he did not possess a pilotís licence and the following year he set about remedying this deficiency, obtaining RAeC Certificate No 203.  As Captain of HMS Campania, he was advised to prepare to accompany the Grand Fleet on the eve of the Battle of Jutland but never received the signal ordering the ship to set sail.  Two hours after the main Fleet sailed Swann gave orders to follow, only to be ordered back to port by Admiral Jellicoe.  As a result the Grand Fleet was deprived of valuable reconnaissance resources which may have produced a totally different outcome to the Battle.   He was later responsible (July 1916) in setting the first training establishment to train pilots and observers in fleet co-operation techniques.

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