Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation


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HQ Unit on board HMS Argus


[Apr 1920 | May 1920 | Jun 1920 | Jul 1920 | Aug 1920 | Apr 1921 | Jul 1921 | Jul 1922 | May 1923 | Jul 1923 | Jan 1924 | Jul 1924 | Jan 1925 | Feb 1925 | Mar 1925 | Apr 1925 | May 1925 | Jun 1925 | Jul 1925 | Jul 1926 | Jul 1927 | Jul 1928 | Sep 1928 | Jul 1929 | Jan 1939 | Apr 1939 | May 1939]

With the formation of the RAF on 1 April 1918, all British military and naval aircraft came under its control.  This included all aircraft operated from ships of the Royal Navy, leading to the situation whereby the air and ground crews on board these ships were members of the RAF and the crews of the ships were members of the Royal Navy.  Effectively the small RAF staffs on board the ship operated in much the same way as the staff at a shore based RAF station, the airfield being the flight deck of the carrier.   Whilst on board ship the RAF personnel were subject to Naval discipline under the jurisdiction of the ship's captain, the senior RAF officer acting as the captain's air advisor. 

Initially a number of squadrons were allocated to man the carriers these being No 3 Squadron, No 203 Squadron, No 210 Squadron and No 205 Squadron but on 1 April the RAF formed the Fleet Air Arm of The RAF and these squadrons were split up into a series of smaller Flights numbered in the 400 series.  With the transfer of the FAA to the Admiralty in July 1939, RAF HQ Units in carriers ceased to exist, with most of the posts being taken over by naval officers, although some RAF personnel continued to be seconded to the Royal Navy for some time.

HMS Argus was originally laid down as the liner Conte Rosso in 1914 but construction was suspended until 1916 when it was purchased for conversion into a seaplane carrier.  However, the design was changed and it was completed with a single flush deck to become the world's first flush deck carrier when it was commissioned on 16 September 1918.  It was transferred to the reserve fleet on 7 May 1930 and was reconditioned in 1937-38 becoming a deck landing training carrier.  During WW2 it was also used to transport RAF aircraft within flying distance of Malta for them to be flown off to the island.

The HQ Unit was formed on 17 August 1918 at East Fortune, embarking for the first time on 7 October at Rosyth, it finally disbanded on 22 May 1930.

April 1920

Fleet Units operated
Atlantic Fleet
  • No formed units

 

Rank Name Branch Notes
Wg Cdr Charles E H Rathborne   DSO; later A/Cdre
Flt Lt Louis C Keeble A & S  
Flt Lt Edward G Hopcroft A & S DSC
Flt Lt David S Earp O DFC
Obs Off Gilbert H Elliot O  
Fg Off Edward R Openshaw A  
Obs Off Jaffnay J W Nicholson O DFC
Fg Off Colin P Brown A & S DFC; later AVM
Obs Off William J Umpleby O  
Obs Off William S Watson O  
Fg Off Albert L Jones A  
Fg Off Ernest C Usher A & S  
Fg Off Gerald M Bryer A AFC
Obs Off Albert F Lang O OBE; later AVM
Obs Off Leopold H Stewart O  
Obs Off William H Dunton O  
Obs Off Kenneth C McKenzie O  
Obs Off Alexander F Adams O DFC
Obs Off John Bowen O  
Obs Off James F H Stevens O  
Obs Off Ernest Smith O  
Plt Off Joseph J Teesdale T  
Plt Off Frank W Foster O DFC
Plt Off William Morgan T  

Source - Air Force List April 1920

May 1920

Fleet Command/Group Units operated
Atlantic Fleet Coastal Area/No 29 Group
  • No formed units

 

Rank Name Branch Date Notes
Flt Lt Louis C Keeble A & S 27 May 1919  
Flt Lt Edward G Hopcroft A & S   DSC
Obs Off Gilbert H Elliot O 12 Jan 1920  
Obs Off Jaffnay J W Nicholson O 12 Jan 1920 DFC
Fg Off Colin P Brown A & S 25 Nov 1919 DFC; later AVM
Obs Off William J Umpleby O 12 Jan 1920  
Obs Off William S Watson O  5 Jan 1920  
Fg Off Albert L Jones A 15 Nov 1919  
Fg Off Ernest C Usher A & S 15 Nov 1919  
Obs Off Albert F Lang O 17 Nov 1919 OBE; later AVM
Obs Off Leopold H Stewart O 24 Nov 1919  
Obs Off William H Dunton O 29 Apr 1919  
Obs Off Kenneth C McKenzie O 22 Oct 1919  
Obs Off Alexander F Adams O 29 Oct 1919 DFC
Obs Off John Bowen O 24 Nov 1919  
Obs Off James F H Stevens O 17 Nov 1919  
Obs Off Ernest Smith O  6 Nov 1919  
Obs Off Frank W Foster O 17 Nov 1919 DFC
Fg Off Joseph J Teesdale T 16 Oct 1919 AFC
Plt Off William Morgan T 20 Jun 1919  

 

Source - Air Force List May 1920

June 1920

Fleet Command/Group Units operated
Atlantic Fleet Coastal Area/No 29 Group
  • No formed units

 

Rank Name Branch Date Notes
Flt Lt Louis C Keeble A & S 27 May 1919  
Fg Off Albert L Jones A 15 Nov 1919  
Obs Off William H Dunton O 29 Apr 1919  
Obs Off Kenneth C McKenzie O 22 Oct 1919  
Obs Off Alexander F Adams O 29 Oct 1919 DFC

Source - Air Force List June 1920

July 1920

Fleet Command/Group Units operated
Atlantic Fleet Coastal Area/No 29 Group
  • No formed units

 

Rank Name Branch Date Notes
Flt Lt Louis C Keeble A & S 27 May 1919  
Fg Off Albert L Jones A 15 Nov 1919  
Obs Off William H Dunton O 29 Apr 1919  
Obs Off Kenneth C McKenzie O 22 Oct 1919  
Obs Off Alexander F Adams O 29 Oct 1919 DFC

 

Source - Air Force List July 1920

August 1920

Fleet Command/Group Units operated
Atlantic Fleet Coastal Area/No 29 Group
  • No formed units

 

Rank Name Branch Date Notes
Wg Cdr Douglas A Oliver   10 Jul 1920 DSO, OBE
Flt Lt Louis C Keeble A & S 27 May 1919  
Fg Off Edward R Openshaw A 28 Jul 1919  
Fg Off Albert L Jones A 15 Nov 1919  
Fg Off Gerald M Bryer A 15 Nov 1919 AFC
Fg Off Frank Susans T 22 Jul 1920 MBE
Obs Off Kenneth C McKenzie O 22 Oct 1919  
Obs Off William H Dunton O 29 Apr 1919  
Obs Off Alexander F Adams O 29 Oct 1919 DFC
Fg Off Thomas J E Thornton T 19 Jul 1920  
Fg Off Robert West T 21 Jul 1920  
Obs Off Frank W Foster O 19 Jul 1920 DFC

Source - August 1920 Air Force List

April 1921

Fleet Command/Group Units operated
Atlantic Fleet Coastal Area/No 29 Group
  • No formed units

 

Rank Name Branch Date Notes
Wg Cdr Douglas A Oliver   10 Jul 1920 DSO, OBE
Flt Lt Wilfred R D Acland A & S  3 Jan 1921 DFC, AFC
Fg Off Leonard C Maxton A & S  3 Jan 1921  
Fg Off Ernest C Usher A 11 Aug 1920  
Fg Off Thomas J E Thornton T 19 July 1921  
Fg Off Robert West T 21 Jul 1920  
Fg Off Frank H Davis T 30 Aug 1920  
Stores Officer
Fg Off Herbert Parker Stores 22 Mar 1921

Source - April 1921 Air Force List

July 1921

Fleet Command/Group Units operated
Atlantic Fleet Coastal Area/No 29 Group
  • No formed units

 

Rank Name Branch Date Notes
Wg Cdr Douglas A Oliver   10 Jul 1920 DSO, OBE
Flt Lt Wilfred R D Acland A & S  3 Jan 1921 DFC, AFC
Fg Off William F Dickson A & S  4 Apr 1921 DSO; later MRAF
Fg Off Gerald M Bryer A  4 Apr 1921 AFC
Fg Off Thomas J E Thornton T 19 July 1921  
Fg Off Frank H Davis T 30 Aug 1920  
Stores Officer
Fg Off Herbert Parker Stores 22 Mar 1921

Source - Air Force List July 1921

July 1922

Fleet Command/Group Units operated
Atlantic Fleet Coastal Area
  • No formed units

 

Rank Name Date Notes
Wg Cdr Douglas A Oliver 10 Jul 1920 DSO, OBE
Fg Off Charles C K Dagg  1 Jan 1922 AFC
Fg Off Gerald M Bryer  4 Apr 1921 AFC
Fg Off Thomas J E Thornton 19 July 1921  
Fg Off Frank H Davis 30 Aug 1920  
Stores Officer
Fg Off Herbert Parker 22 Mar 1921

 

Source - Air Force List July 1922

May 1923

Fleet Command/Group Units operated
Atlantic Fleet Coastal Area
  • No 401 Flight

  • No 441 Flight

  • No 442 Flight

 

Rank Name Date Notes
Wg Cdr Cecil F Kilner 15 Aug 1922 DSO
Fg/Obs Off John W Turton Jones  1 Feb 1923  
Fg/Obs Off Stephen H Reynolds  1 Mar 1923  
Fg Off Thomas J E Thornton 19 July 1921  
Fg Off Frank H Davis 30 Aug 1920  
Stores Officer
Fg Off Ernest S Bullen 30 Aug 1922

Source - May 1923 Air Force List

July 1923

Fleet Command/Group Units operated
Atlantic Fleet Coastal Area
  • No 401 Flight

  • No 441 Flight

  • No 442 Flight

 

Rank Name Date Notes
Wg Cdr Cecil F Kilner 15 Aug 1922 DSO
Fg/Obs Off John W Turton Jones  1 Feb 1923  
Fg Off Thomas J E Thornton 19 July 1921  
Fg Off Frank H Davis 30 Aug 1920  
Stores Officer
Fg Off Ernest S Bullen 30 Aug 1922

Source - Air Force List July 1923

January 1924

Fleet Command/Group Units operated
Atlantic Fleet Coastal Area
  • No 401 Flight

  • No 423 Flight

  • No 442 Flight

 

Rank Name Date Notes
Wg Cdr Cecil F Kilner 15 Aug 1922 DSO
Sqn Ldr Reginald F S Leslie 21 Jul 1923 DSC, DFC, AFC
Fg/Obs Off John W Turton Jones  1 Feb 1923  
Fg/Obs Off Frank Jezzard 13 Nov 1923 MBE
Fg Off Frank H Davis 30 Aug 1920  
Stores Officer
Fg Off Ernest S Bullen 30 Aug 1922

Source - Air Force List January 1924

July 1924

Fleet Command/Group Units operated
Atlantic Fleet Coastal Area
  • No 401 Flight

  • No 423 Flight

  • No 442 Flight

 

Rank Name Date Notes
Gp Capt Cecil F Kilner 15 Aug 1922 DSO
Wg Cdr Arnold J Miley  8 Mar 1924
Sqn Ldr Reginald F S Leslie 21 Jul 1923 DSC, DFC, AFC
Fg/Obs Off John W Turton Jones  1 Feb 1923  
Fg/Obs Off Frank Jezzard 13 Nov 1923 MBE
Fg Off Frank H Davis 30 Aug 1920  
Stores Officer
Fg Off Ernest S Bullen 30 Aug 1922

Source - Air Force List July 1924

January 1925

Source - January 1925 Air Force List

February 1925

Source - February 1925 Air Force List

March 1925

Source - March 1925 Air Force List

April 1925

Source - April 1925 Air Force List

May 1925

Source - May 1925 Air Force List

June 1925

Source - June 1925 Air Force List

July 1925

Fleet Command/Group Units operated
Atlantic Fleet Coastal Area
  • No 401 Flight

  • No 423 Flight

  • No 442 Flight

 

Rank Name Date Notes
Wg Cdr Arnold J Miley  8 Mar 1924
Sqn Ldr Reginald F S Leslie 21 Jul 1923 DSC, DFC, AFC
Hon Flt Lt Herbert R B Howell 17 Jan 1925  
Fg/Obs Off Stewart F Cole 10 Jan 1925  
Stores Officer
Fg Off Stanley D Dennis  7 Apr 1925  
Naval Observer Officer employed with unit
Lt George A M Williams 21 Oct 1924 RN

Source - Air Force List July 1925

July 1926

It was Paid off on 2 November 1925 to be refitted and recommissioned on 23 November 1926.

July 1927

Fleet Units operated
China Station
  • No 442 Flight

  • No 443A Flight

  • No 404B Flight

  • No 441 Flight

 

Rank Name Date Notes
Wg Cdr Christopher E Maude 19 Jan 1927
Sqn Ldr Richard B Munday 19 Jan 1927
Fg Off John W Hutchins 26 Jan 1927  
Fg Off Erskine A H Fisher 26 Jan 1927  
Stores Officer
Fg Off Thomas A G Hawley 31 Jan 1927  

Source - Air Force List July 1927

July 1928

Fleet Units operated
Atlantic Fleet
  • No 401 Flight

  • No 422 Flight

  • No 441 Flight

 

Rank Name Date Notes
Wg Cdr Christopher E Maude 19 Jan 1927
Sqn Ldr Richard B Munday 19 Jan 1927
Fg Off John W Hutchins 26 Jan 1927  
Fg Off Philip Jones  7 Nov 1927 later A/Cdre
Stores Officer
Fg Off Cecil W Rugg 20 Feb 1928  

Source - Air Force List July 1928

September 1928

Fleet Units operated
Atlantic Fleet
  • No 401 Flight

  • No 422 Flight

  • No 441 Flight

 

Rank Name Date Notes
Wg Cdr Christopher E Maude 19 Jan 1927
Sqn Ldr Richard B Munday 19 Jan 1927
Fg Off John W Hutchins 26 Jan 1927  
Fg Off Sylvanus G Connolly  1 Aug 1928 Armament Duties
Stores Officer
Fg Off Cecil W Rugg 20 Feb 1928  

Source - September 1928 Air Force List

July 1929

Fleet Units operated
Atlantic Fleet
  • No 401 Flight

  • No 441 Flight

  • No 450 Flight

 

Rank Name Date Notes
Wg Cdr John H S Tyssen 19 Sep 1928 MC; later AVM
Sqn Ldr Richard B Munday 19 Jan 1927
Flt Lt Sylvanus G Connolly  1 Aug 1928 Armament Duties
Fg Off John W Hutchins 26 Jan 1927  
Stores Officer
Fg Off Cecil W Rugg 20 Feb 1928  

Source - Air Force List July 1929

It was Paid off and transferred to reserve on 7 May 1930

It was commissioned for trials on 16 May 1938 and commissioned for service on 30 July 1938 as the Home Fleet Requirement Unit.

January 1939

Fleet Units operated
Home Fleet
  • No formed units

 

Rank Name Date Notes
Sqn Ldr R A Peyton  9 Aug 1938 Lt Cdr, RN
Sqn Ldr H Wright  9 Aug 1938 Lt Cdr, RN
Fg Off A T Darley  9 Aug 1938 Act Lt, RN
Fg Off D W Kirke 16 Aug 1938 Sub-Lt, RN
Fg Off G Villiers 26 Aug 1938 Sub-Lt, RN
Plt Off J D Edmonds 22 Aug 1938  
Plt Off J C Mungo-Park 22 Aug 1938  

Source - Air Force List January 1939

April 1939

Fleet Units operated
Home Fleet
  • No formed units

 

Rank Name Date Notes
Sqn Ldr R A Peyton  9 Aug 1938 Lt Cdr, RN
Sqn Ldr H Wright  9 Aug 1938 Lt Cdr, RN
Flt Lt P G O Sydney-Turner  9 Jan 1939 Lt, RN
Fg Off A T Darley  9 Aug 1938 Act Lt, RN
Fg Off G Villiers 26 Aug 1938 Act Lt, RN
Fg Off D W Kirke 16 Aug 1938 Sub-Lt, RN
Plt Off J D Edmonds 22 Aug 1938  
Plt Off J C Mungo-Park 22 Aug 1938  

Source - Confidential Air Force List April 1939

May 1939

Fleet Units operated
Home Fleet
  • No formed units

 

Rank Name Date Notes
Sqn Ldr H Wright  9 Aug 1938 Lt Cdr, RN
Flt Lt P G O Sydney-Turner  9 Jan 1939 Lt, RN
Flt Lt E G Savage  6 Apr 1939 Lt, RN
Fg Off A T Darley  9 Aug 1938 Act Lt, RN
Fg Off G Villiers 26 Aug 1938 Act Lt, RN
Fg Off D W Kirke 16 Aug 1938 Sub-Lt, RN
Plt Off J D Edmonds 22 Aug 1938  
Plt Off J C Mungo-Park 22 Aug 1938  

Source - Confidential Air Force List May 1939

[Apr 1920 | May 1920 | Jun 1920 | Jul 1920 | Aug 1920 | Apr 1921 | Jul 1921 | Jul 1922 | May 1923 | Jul 1923 | Jan 1924 | Jul 1924 | Jan 1925 | Feb 1925 | Mar 1925 | Apr 1925 | May 1925 | Jun 1925 | Jul 1925 | Jul 1926 | Jul 1927 | Jul 1928 | Sep 1928 | Jul 1929 | Jan 1939 | Apr 1939 | May 1939]

This page was last updated on 07/07/18

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