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Air Vice Marshal H K Thorold


Henry Karslake               b: 11 May 1896              r: 8 Sep 1947                     d: 10 Apr 1966

CB - 14 Jun 1945, CBE - xx xxx 1942, DSC - 31 May 1916, DFC - 28 Oct 1921, AFC - 2 Nov 1918, PR3 - 29 May 1942

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(RNAS):- (P) Flt Sub-Lt: 25 May 1915, Flt Sub-Lt: 4 Nov 1915 [25 May 1915], Flt Lt: 30 Jun 1916, Act Flt Cdr: xx xxx xxxx, Flt Cdr: 30 Jun 1917.

(RAF):- (T) Maj [Lt]: 1 Apr 1918, Flt Lt: 1 Aug 1919 [1 Apr 1918], Sqn Ldr: 1 Jul 1924, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1932, Gp Capt: 1  Jul 1937, (T) A/Cdre: 1 Mar 1941, Act AVM: 25 Jun 1943, A/Cdre: 1 Dec 1943, (T) AVM: 1 Jun 1944, AVM:  7 Sep 1947.

25 May 1915:          U/T Pilot, Naval Flying School, Eastbourne

xx Jan 1916:            Pilot, No 3 Wing RNAS. (Gallipoli)

xx xxx xxxx:             Pilot, RNAS (France)

xx xxx xxxx:             Pilot, RNAS (UK)

30 Jun 1917:            Flight Commander, RNAS.

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

xx xxx 1920:             Awaiting disposal, HQ Middle East Area.

xx xxx 1920:            Pilot, No 70 Sqn. (Vimy – Egypt)

 2 May 1920:           Flight Commander, No 84 Sqn. (DH9A – Iraq)

 14 Jan 1923:           QFI, No 4 FTS.

 1 Oct 1923:            Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

15 Oct 1923:            Personnel Staff, Air Ministry.

19 Jul 1924:            Officer i/c, Fleet Spotter Flights, RAF Base, Gosport.

 1 Nov 1925:           Personnel Staff, HQ No 10 Group.

 9 May 1926:           Attended RAF Staff College.

30 Jul 1927:             Flight Commander, No 58 Sqn.

 4 May 1929:           Air Staff, Deputy Directorate of Staff Duties.

19 Jan 1932:            Attended Imperial Defence College.

 1 Jan - 1 Feb 1933:              Placed on half pay list, scale A

xx xxx 1933:            Officer Commanding. No 10 Sqn.

26 Feb 1934:           Officer Commanding, No 70 Sqn.

 1 Aug 1934:            Air Staff, HQ Iraq Command.

28 Feb 1936:           Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

14 Jul 1936:             Air Staff, HQ No 3 (Bomber) Group.

19 May 1937           Officer Commanding, RAF Mildenhall.

16 May 1938:          Deputy Director of Equipment (4). (moved Dec 39-Apr 40)

xx xxx 1940:            Officer i/c Staff Maintenance, HQ British Air Forces in France.

xx Jul 1940:             Officer Commanding, RAF Takoradi/HQ West Africa. ('Takoradi' Route)

22 Feb 1942:            SASO, GHQ Home Forces.

17 Mar 1943:           AOC, No 92 Group.

xx Apr 1945:            Head of Air Section, British Military Mission to Moscow.

 6 Feb 1946:            SASO, HQ Flying Training Command.

During WW1 he served in the Mediterranean and France.  Following the fall of France, he found himself posted to the Gold Coast (now Ghana), arriving on 14 July 1940 aboard the ss Durban Castle.  His advance party of 24 officers and other ranks were tasked with the establishment of an aircraft assembly and ferrying facility for the delivery of aircraft to the Middle East.  This system allowed the delivery of vital re-inforcements to the Mediterranean with a greatly reduced risk of the supply ships being intercepted between Gibraltar and Egypt.  The route used was basically that pioneered by Sqn Ldr Coningham (later AM Sir Arthur) in 1925.  Thorold set up his base facilities at Takoradi, which initially came under the control of HQ No 203 Group in Khartoum, from which it acquired it's unofficial title of the 'Takoradi Route', but the scheme also required a myriad of bases being established and manned across central Africa to the Sudan and then North to Egypt.  In October 1943, by which time the Mediterranean had just about been cleared of Axis forces, over 5000 aircraft had been delivered to the Middle East along the route.

Returning to the UK having completed his task in Africa, he joined GHQ Home Forces, where as SASO, he worked with his Army counterpart, Brig Oxbarrow, on plans for the proposed landings in Europe when they should eventually become possible.  Their findings were published in paper in May 1942 amongst which were the establishment of Composite Groups, composed of both fighters and bombers/fighter bombers, and the need for a specialised group to transport the airborne forces.  The first proposal eventually resulted in the creation of No's 84 and 85 Groups and the second in the formation of No 38 Wing/Group.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Cross

“Acting Lieutenant Joseph McLoughlin, R.N.R.

Flight Sub-Lieut. Henry Karslake Thorold, R.N.A.S.

Sub-Lieut. Reginald Henry Portal, R.N.

For conspicuous gallantry during a combat with an enemy aeroplane in the Dardanelles.  At the outset Flight Sub-Lieut. Thorold, the Pilot, was severely wounded in the back, and Sub-Lieut. Portal, the Observer, in the thigh and arm.  The Pilot momentarily lost control and the machine nose dived, but he soon regained control and the Observer succeeded in firing another two magazines, whereupon the enemy aeroplane sheered off and disappeared.  The Pilot took his machine safely back to the aerodrome, a distance of about twenty-five miles, and, after making a perfect landing, lost consciousness.”

(London Gazette – 31 May 1916)

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

"Flight Lieutenant Henry Karslake Thorold, D.S.C., A.F.C., R.A.F.

For gallantry and leadership on all occasions when commanding the flight at Nasiriyeh. His work in the field has been; an example to all ranks."

(London Gazette - 28 October 1921)

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