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Air Marshal Sir Thomas Williams (08195)


AM Sir Thomas Williams during the Berlin AirliftThomas Melling            

b: 27 Sep 1899              r: 7 Feb 1953                d: 10 Jun 1956

KCB - 8 Jun 1950 (CB - 1 Jan 1944), OBE - 1 Jan 1941, MC - 16 Sep 1918, DFC - 2 Nov 1918, Bar - 22 Dec 1919, MiD - 31 Mar 1920, MiD - 11 Jul 1940, AM (US) - 28 Jul 1944, LoM (Cdr) - 15 Mar 1946, DSM (US) - 12 Dec 1950, Hon MA (Cambridge), JP (Kent) - 1954.  

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(Army):- (T) 2 Lt (P): 30 Aug 1917, (T) 2 Lt: 6 Nov 1917, Lt: xx xxx xxxx.

(RAF):- Lt: 1 Apr 1918, (T) Capt: 19 Jul 1918, Fg Off: 1 Aug 1919, Flt Lt: 1 Jul 1924, Sqn Ldr:  1 Oct 1934, Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1938, (T) Gp Capt: 1 Sep 1940, Gp Capt (WS): 15 Mar 1942, Act A/Cdre: 15 Sep 1941?, Act AVM: xx xxx xxxx - xx xxx xxxx, 15 Dec 1943, (T) A/Cdre: 1 Jun 1943, Gp Capt: 1 Dec 1943, (T) AVM: 1 Jun 1944, A/Cdre: 1 Dec 1944, AVM: 1 Oct 1946, Act AM: 30 Oct 1948, AM: 1 Jan 1950.

Photo Copyright - J Pett-Ridge

xx xxx 1916:          ?, 12th South African Infantry

xx xxx 1917:            U/T Pilot, RFC.

 6 Nov 1917:          Flying Officer, RFC

xx xxx xxxx:            Pilot, No 65 Sqn RFC

19 Jul 1918:            Flight Commander, No 65 Sqn.

xx xxx 1918:            Pilot/Flight Commander, RAF Detachment, Baltic/North Russia.

14 Oct 1919:           Pilot, Coastal Area Aircraft Depot

24 Oct 1919:           Awarded Short Service Commission in the rank of Flying Officer (Aeroplane). 

28 Feb 1921:           Attended P.T. Course, School of Physical Training and Drill.

 1 Oct 1921:            Pilot, No 3 Sqn.

 1 Apr 1923:            Pilot, No 420 Flight.

21 Nov 1924:          Officer Commanding, No 423 (Fleet Spotter) Flight, FAA.

15 Dec 1924:          Officer Commanding, No 406 (Fleet Fighter) Flight, FAA.

15 Jul 1925:            Officer Commanding, 'A' (Fighter) Training Flight, RAF Training Base, Leuchars.

 6 Apr 1926:            Officer Commanding, No 406 (Fleet Fighter) Flight, FAA.

21 Jan 1927:            Officer Commanding, No 423 (Fleet Spotter) Flight, FAA.

 2 Apr 1929:            Adjutant?, SHQ RAF Hal Far.

 6 Oct 1931:            Adjutant/QFI, Cambridge University Air Sqn.

21 Jan 1935:            Attended RAF Staff College.

23 Mar 1936:           Air Staff, Directorate of Operations and Intelligence

11 Mar 1938:           Officer Commanding, RAF Andover.

20 Feb 1939:           Air Staff, HQ No 1 Group.

24 Aug 1939:           Air Staff, HQ AASF.

xx Jul 1940:             Officer Commanding, RAF Watton.

xx Jul 1941:             SASO, No 2 Group.

xx xxx 1941:            Deputy SASO, HQ Bomber Command.

xx Jan 1942:            SASO to C in C, Far East.

xx Mar 1942:           SASO, Air Forces in India.

 1 Jan 1943:             AOC, AHQ Bengal.

15 Dec 1943:           Deputy Commander, HQ Eastern Air Command - ACSEA.

 1 Aug 1944:            Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Operations).

xx xxx 1947:            Commandant, RAF Staff College.

30 Oct 1948:           AOC in C, British Air Forces of Occupation.

 1 Oct 1951:            Inspector-General of the RAF.  

Although born in Lancashire, he completed his education in South Africa at Germiston in the province. He joined the 12th South African Infantry seeing action in German West Africa during 1916 and 1917.  Transferring to the RFC in 1917 as a cadet, he saw further service in France with No 65 Squadron flying Sopwith Camels gaining nine confirmed victories with the unit.  He later served in North Russia until 1919 as a fighter pilot.

Together with his AOC, he was one of the last RAF officers to escape from France in 1940 via Brest.

As AOC AHQ Bengal, he commanded two composite groups, No 221 with it's HQ in Calcutta and No 224 at Chittagong.  One of his first actions was to instigate a realistic live exercise in supply dropping to test out procedures to be used in support of the forthcoming Chindit operations.

Accompanied the crew of the York which carried the millionth ton of freight into Berlin during the Airlift. He was awarded the DSM (US) for his services during the airlift.

In 1952 it was announced that he was to be appointed C in C, FEAF but he had to turn down the post due to ill-health.  The following year he was to be appointed AOC in C, Home Command, but once again his health prevented him from taking up the post and he was forced to take premature retirement.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

"Lieut. (T./Capt.) Thomas Melling Williams, M.C.

During recent operations this officer rendered most gallant and valuable service, proving himself to be a very capable and inspiring leader.  On one occasion, observing three enemy railway trains, he dived, and in face of very heavy machine-gun fire seriously damaged one by a direct hit with a bomb.  He then descended almost to the ground, and attacked the personnel escaping from the ruined train, scattering them in all directions.  On returning to-his aerodrome his machine was found to be riddled with bullets.

(M.C. gazetted 16th September, 1918)"

(London Gazette 2 November 1918)

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