Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Chief Marshal Sir Norman Bottomley

N H Bottomley - 1916Sir Norman Howard BottomleyNorman Howard               

b: 18 Sep 1891                r: 1 Jan 1948                        d: 13 Aug 1970

KCB - 8 Jun 1944 (CB - 17 Mar 1941), CIE - 11 May 1937, DSO - 21 Dec 1937, AFC - 2 Nov 1918, MiD - 12 Nov 1937, MiD - 18 Feb 1938 (2), MiD - 14 Jun 1938, MiD - 1 Jan 1941, LoM (Cdr) - 9 Oct 1945.  

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

2nd Prize - 'R M Groves' - 1923  

(Army): - 2 Lt:  15 Aug 1914, Lt: 12 Feb 1915, Capt:  9 Apr 1916.

(RAF): - Capt: 1 Apr 1918, Flt Lt: 1 Aug 1919 [1 Apr 1918], Sqn Ldr: 30 Jun 1922, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1929, Act Gp Capt: 4 Oct 1934,  Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1935, A/Cdre: 1 Nov 1938, Act AVM: 4 Mar 1940, (T) AVM: 1 Jul 1940, AVM: 14 Apr 1942 [1 Jul 1940], Act  AM: 1 Aug 1943, (T) AM: 16 Aug 1944, AM: 1 Jan 1946, ACM: 23 Mar 1947.

Sir Norman Howard Bottomley

by Howard Coster
quarter-plate film negative, 1940
NPG x3037

National Portrait Gallery, London


15 Aug 1914:              Officer, 3rd Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment

17 Dec 1915:                U/T Pilot, No 6 Reserve Sqn RFC.

 5 Dec 1915:                U/T Pilot, No 15 Reserve Sqn RFC

12 Apr 1916:               Flying Officer, RFC

xx Apr 1916:               Pilot, No 47 Sqn RFC (Beverley)

 9 Jan 1917:                 Instructor, No 50 Reserve Sqn RFC

27 Mar 1917:              Attached, British Flying School, Vendome

 5 Apr 1917:                Instructor, British Flying School, Vendome

 1 Aug 1917:                Flight Commander, British Flying School, Vendome

16 Oct 1917:                ?

 1 Aug 1919:                Awarded Permanent Commission as a Captain

25 Nov 1919:              Staff Officer 2nd Class, HQ Northern Area.

 18 Oct 1919:              Reverted to Aeroplane Officer from Staff Officer.

 1 Apr 1920:                Staff Officer, HQ No 1 Group.

23 Mar 1921:              Air Staff, HQ Middle East Area.

19 May 1921:              Staff Officer, HQ Egyptian Group.

 7 Nov 1921:               Staff Officer, HQ Middle East Area.

19 Dec 1922:               CFI/Squadron Commander?, No 4 FTS.

5 May 1924:                Attended RAF Staff College.

 1 May 1925:               Air Staff - Plans, Directorate of Operations and Intelligence.

15 Oct 1928:               Officer Commanding, No 4 Sqn. (Bristol F2B, Atlas I Farnborough)

14 Jan 1930:                Attended Imperial Defence College.

20 Dec 1930:               Directing Staff, RAF Staff College.  

xx xxx 1934:                Officer Commanding, Aircraft Park, Lahore.

 4 Oct 1934:                Officer Commanding, No 1 (Indian) Group.

21 Feb 1938:               SASO, HQ Bomber Command.

22 Nov 1940:              AOC, No 5 Group - Bomber Command.

 1 Jun 1941:                 Deputy Chief of the Air Staff.

 3 May 1942:              Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Operations).  [DCAS changed to ACAS (Ops)]

30 Jul 1943:                Deputy Chief of the Air Staff. [ACAS (Ops) changed back to DCAS)

15 Sep 1945:               AOC in C, Bomber Command.

17 Jan 1947:                Inspector-General of the RAF.

Born in Yorkshire, he was educated at Halifax Secondary School, The Borough College in London and Rennes University in France.  He received RAeC Certificate No 2328 on 27 January 1916.  In 1940  he organised a force of bombers to be sent to France at the request of the Air Component, this was carried out without higher authority, an indication of the measures felt necessary in order to stem the German advance.  He was one of the leading proponents of 'Area Bombing' being instrumental in its acceptance as policy.  However, with the build up for Overlord well underway he tried to get Harris to changeover to precision bombing, a task which brought the two into conflict on a number of occasions.

From 1948 until 1956, he held the post of Director of Administration at the BBC.

Citation and recommendation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order

BOTTOMLEY, Norman Howard, G/C, CIE, AFC - Distinguished Service Order - awarded as per London Gazette dated 21 December 1937;

"for gallant and distinguished services rendered in connection with the operations in Waziristan during the period January 17 to September 15, 1937."

Recommendation drafted 8 November 1937 by Air Marshal J.B. Joubert:-

"Group Captain N.H. Bottomley, CIE, AFC, has commanded No.1 (Indian) Group, Peshwar, during these operations from 16th June 1937 to 12th July 1937.  He has been responsible for the direction of the operations and of the air forces engaged in Waziristan during that period.

 He handled the air forces under his command with conspicuous ability and success.  He has at all times displayed a high sense of devotion to duty.  In order to keep himself in close touch with the progress of the operations, he has undertaken a great deal of flying duty including a number of reconnaissances at low altitude over the area of operations.  He has in this way shown an excellent example to all those under his command.  The success of the operations is in no small measure due to his personal conduct."

(Source - Air 2/2516)

This page was last updated on 25/12/22

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