Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation
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(Charles) John b: 7 Jun 1941 d: 10 Jul 1994
GCB – 11 Jun 1994 (KCB – 15 Jun 1991), CBE - 1984, AFC – 16 Jun 1979, 'R M Groves' Memorial Prize - 19?
Plt Off: 31 Jul 1962, Fg Off: 31 Jul 1963 [31 Jul 1962], Flt Lt: 31 Jan 1965, Sqn Ldr: 1 Jul 1970, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1975, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1980, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1985, AVM: 1 Jan 1987, AM: 8 May 1991, ACM: 4 Nov 1992.
xx Sep 1959: Flight Cadet, 'A' Sqn, RAF College.
31 Jul 1962: Appointed to a Permanent Commission
xx xxx 1962: Pilot - No. 43 Sqn, Aden
xx xxx 1964: Pilot - No. 2 Sqn, Gutersloh/ ADC to AOC in C RAF Germany
xx xxx 1967: Exchange Posting - 67 TRW USAF.
xx xxx 1973: Attended RAF Staff College
xx xxx 1973: Leader Jaguar Project Team, HQ Strike Command
25 Jul 1975: Air Plans 3, HQ Strike Command.
14 Jul 1976: Officer Commanding, No 41 Sqn
12 Mar 1979: Personal Staff Officer to Chief of the Air Staff
11 Dec 1981: Officer Commanding, RAF Bruggen
10 Jan 1984: Attended Royal College of Defence Studies
xx xxx 1985: Director of Defence Concepts
19 Feb 1987: AOC, No 1 Group
xx xxx 1989: Assistant Chief of the Air Staff
xx xxx 1991: AOC in C, Support Command
4 Nov 1992: AOC in C, Strike Command
1 Jul 1994: C in C, Allied Forces North West Europe
Sir John Thomson spent his youth in Northern Ireland being educated at Campbell College before entering the RAF College at Cranwell in 1959. At Cranwell he exhibited his potential by attaining the rank of Senior Under Officer and being awarded the 'R M Groves' Memorial Prize and the Dickson Trophy and Michael Hill Memorial Prize.
Following graduation he was posted to Cyprus to join No 43 Squadron where he flew Hunters but shortly after joining them the squadron moved to Aden, taking part in operations both there and in the Gulf area, including participation in the Radfan operations of 1964. His next posting, still flying Hunters, was to No 2 Squadron but now in the fighter/recce role, in RAF Germany at Gutersloh. He also undertook duties as ADC to the C in C, RAF Germany during this phase of his career. His third consecutive flying tour was on an exchange posting to the USAF at Bergstrom Air Force Base in Texas, where he was assigned to the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. It was whilst here that he met his wife, Jan.
Attendance at Staff College was followed by a staff appointment at HQ Strike Command as leader of the Jaguar Project Team and then in Air Plans. Command of a squadron came in 1976 when he formed No 41 Sqn at Coltishall to introduce the Jaguar into RAF service. His previous tours in both the attack and recce roles giving him valuable experience in the leadership of No 41 in it's assigned role in the Norwegian area. He also led the first deployment of Jaguars across the Atlantic to take part in Red Flag 1978.
Command of No 41 was followed by a move to MOD as Personal Staff Officer to the Chief of the Air Staff, prior to promotion to Group Captain and command of RAF Burgeon and it's strike wing which at that time consisted of four Jaguar squadrons. Appointment as Director of the newly formed Defence Concepts Directorate followed attendance at the Royal College of Defence Studies. As AOC, No 1 Group Sir John commanded all UK based offensive air assets, tankers, transports and support helicopters. A move back to MOD came in 1989 when he became ACAS where he was responsible for much of the work in arms controls and the re-structuring of the RAF in the mid 1990's. He continued to oversee these major changes when he took command of RAF Support Command, before taking the reins of the top operational post in the RAF as AOC in C, Strike Command in 1992.In July 1994 he became the first Commander in Chief of a new NATO command, Allied Forces North-western Europe. However, within days of taking up this post he was taken ill and rushed into Hospital at RAF Halton where he died on 10 July.
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