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Air Chief Marshal Sir John Boothman (09244)

Sir John Nelson BoothmanJohn  Nelson             b: 19 Feb 1901            r: 3 May 1956                     d: 29 Dec 1957

KCB - 10 Jun 1954 (CB - 8 Jun 1944), KBE - 7 Jun 1951, DFC – 14 Jul 1944, AFC -9 Oct 1931, MiD - 1 Jan 1942, C de G (F) - xx xxx 194?, DFC (US) - 28 Aug 1945, LoM (Cdr) - 9 Oct 1945, CMC - 27 Jun 1947.

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

Plt Off (P):  29 Mar 1921, Plt Off: 29 Feb 1922 [29 Mar 1921], Fg Off: 29 Sep 1922, Flt Lt: 1 Jul 1927, Sqn Ldr: 1 Dec 1935, Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1939, (T) Gp Capt: 1 Mar 1941, Act A/Cdre: 6 Jun 1943, (T) A/Cdre: 1 Dec 1943, Gp Capt (WS): 6 Dec 1943, Gp Capt: 23 Jan 1945 [1 Jun 1944], Act AVM: 2 Jul 1945, (T) AVM: 1 Jan 1946, A/Cdre: 1 Apr 1946, AVM: 1 Jul 1947, Act AM: 4 Sep 1950, AM: 1 Jan 1952, ACM: 1 Oct 1954.

Sir John Nelson Boothman

by Walter Stoneman
bromide print, August 1946
NPG x164376

© National Portrait Gallery, London


xx Mar 1921:           U/T Officer, RAF Depot?

29 Mar 1921:          U/T Pilot, No 1 FTS.

xx xxx xxxx:             Pilot, No ? Sqn, Constantinople.

25 Sep 1922:           Attended Air Pilotage School.

1 Mar 1924:            Student, Central Flying School.

xx xxx 1925:            Instructor, Central Flying School.

 1 Jan 1926:             Appointed to a Permanent Commission in the rank of Flying Officer

21 Sep 1926:           Pilot, No 56 Sqn.

24 Feb 1928:           Flight Commander, No 30 Sqn.

 3 Feb 1929:            Flight Commander, No 32 Sqn.

10 Feb 1930:           Test Pilot, Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment.

11 May 1931:          Member, RAF High Speed Flight.

RAF high speed flight including orlebar1.JPG (149901 bytes)
Photograph of the RAF High Speed Flight.  J N Boothman is 3rd from the right.  Also on the photo are  A H Orlebar (4th from the right) and F W Long (3rd from the left).

 3 Oct 1931:           Flight Commander, No 22 Sqn.

27 May 1932:         Supernumerary - Non effective (Sick), RAF Depot.

13 Aug 1932:          Test Pilot,  Experimental Section, RAE 

xx xxx xxxx:            Chief Flying Instructor, Central Flying School.

21 Jan 1935:           Attended RAF Staff College.

 4 Jan 1936:            Air Staff, HQ Coastal Command

26 Mar 1937:          Air Staff, HQ RAF Far East.

10 Feb 1939:          Supernumerary, No 1 RAF Depot

24 Apr 1939:           Officer Commanding, No 44 Sqn.

13 Dec 1939:           Posted to Air Ministry, pending posting

27 Dec 1939:          Air Staff – Directorate of Operations (Home).

24 Jul 1940:            Air Staff, HQ Bomber Command

26 Mar 1941:          Officer Commanding, RAF Waddington.

14 Oct 1941:           Attached, No 1 RAF Depot, Uxbridge

xx Oct 1941:           Adviser to USAAF, Washington.

30 Dec 1941:          Officer Commanding, No 25 OTU/RAF Finningley.

10 Jun 1942:           Staff, Directorate of Operational Requirements.

 6 Jun 1943:            AOC, RAF Benson.

 3 Jul 1943:             AOC, No 106 (PR) Wing.

23 Oct 1943:          AOC, No 106 (PR) Wing/RAF Benson.

14 Apr 1944:          AOC, No 106 (PR) Group.

xx Jul 1944:             Commandant, A. & A.E.E.

 2 Jul 1945:             Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Technical Requirements).

 8 Nov 1948:          AOC, Air HQ - Iraq.

 4 Sep 1950:           Controller of Supply (Air), Ministry of Supply.

15 Nov 1953:         AOC in C, Coastal Command/C in C (Air), Eastern Atlantic Area.

John Boothman’s desire to fly started at an early age and by the age of 10 he had even flown as a passenger with the legendary Samuel Cody.  Attempting to join the RFC in 1918 he was turned down  due to his age and instead he joined the French Red Cross in Salonika as a voluntary driver, serving there from January to September 1918, for which he was awarded the Croix de Guerre.    

Returning from France he took up private flying and continued with his attempts to get into the newly formed  RAF, eventually being awarded a short service commission in 1921.  John Boothman was one of those pilots who just seemed to find flying a natural act and he simply loved to fly.  Even when he found himself desk bound in staff or command posts, he inevitably found time to escape by flying somewhere or to try out a new aircraft or piece of equipment.

Being posted to the CFS in 1924?, he soon began to make a name for himself as a display pilot.  In 1924 he was a member of the five man CFS team equipped with Sopwith Snipes and for the 1925 Hendon display he and Flt Lt H A Hamersley flew a pair of Grebes in mock combat against the prototype Boulton & Paul Bugle.   In 1926, he and Fg Off D'Arcy Greig carried out a rather spectacular manoeuvre in which he did an inverted falling leaf whilst 1000ft below him, D'Arcy Greig did a normal one.  During one of these displays D'Arcy Greig's aircraft fell apart and crashed although the pilot walked away. 

As a member of the 1931 RAF High Speed Flight he took part in that year’s Schneider Trophy competition, piloting the winning Supermarine S6B at a speed of 340.6 mph, winning the trophy outright for Britain.

He only had one son, who also followed him into the RAF and in 1945 father and son possibly made RAF history when they were both presented with the DFC at the same investiture.  Unfortunately his son having survived the war perished in a flying accident in 1946.  Retiring in 1956, he had barely started to enjoy retirement when he died at the early age of 56 as a result of illness which had started to plague him in Iraq and would continue to do so from time to time for the remainder of his service.

Citation for the award of the Air Force Cross.

"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Air Force Cross to the undermentioned officers of the Royal Air Force: —

Flight Lieutenant John Nelson BOOTHMAN.

In recognition of his achievement in winning the Schneider Trophy Contest, 1931."

(London Gazette – 9 October 1931)

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

“Air Commodore John Nelson BOOTHMAN, C. B., A.F.C.

This officer has displayed the highest standard 'of skill resolution and devotion to duty.  In the early days of the war he undertook many sorties as pilot of aircraft.  He participated in the initial attack against .German naval vessels at Kiel and subsequently in numerous bombing missions against industrial targets.  Air Commodore Boothman has completed many notable reconnaissances and his successes are a splendid tribute to>his high skill and endurance.  This officer has always displayed the greatest 'keenness for air operations and has only been prevented from participating in them more frequently by the pressure ''of his normal duties. He has set an example in keeping with the best traditions of the Royal Air Force.”

(London Gazette – 14 July 1944)


This page was last updated on 09/04/22

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