Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Commodore H G Brackley

Herbert George            b: 4 Oct 1894                     r: 15 Oct 1945                     d: 15 Nov 1948

CBE - 24 Sep 1941, DSO - 22 Jun 1917, DSC - 12 May 1917, MiD - 1 Jan 1941, CdeG (P) - 8 Nov 1918, Cwn, O - 8 Feb 1919, RS4 - 8 May 1924.

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(RNAS):- (T) (P) Flt Sub-Lt: 13 Jun 1915, (T) Flt Sub-Lt: 21 Sep 1915 [13 Jun 1915], (T) Flt Lt: 1 Oct 1916, Act Flt Cdr: 7 May 1917, (T) Flt Cdr: 30 Jun 1917, Act Sqn Cdr: 22 Dec 1917.

(RAF): - (T) Capt [Lt]: 1 Apr 1918, Act Maj: 1 Apr 1918, Maj: xx xxx xxxx [1 Apr 1918], Sqn Ldr: 9 Oct 1939, (T) Wg Cdr: 1 Sep 1940, Act Gp Capt: xx xxx xxxx, (T) Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1943, Act A/Cdre: 24 Mar 1943, Gp Capt (WS): 24 Sep 1943,

(RAFO):-   Fg Off (P): 8 Apr 1924, Fg Off: 8 Oct 1924, Flt Lt: 20 Jan 1925,  Sqn Ldr: 26 Jul 1927,

13 Jun 1915:            Officer, HMS Excellent

26 Jul 1915:             U/T Pilot, Naval Flying School, Eastchurch.

20 Sep 1915:           Pilot, No 4 Sqn, No 4 Wing, RNAS.

xx Nov 1915:           Pilot, D Wing, Dunkerque.

xx Dec 1915:            Pilot, Wireless Trials, No 4 Wing, Eastchurch

11 Apr 1916:           Pilot, No 4 Sqn, No 4 Wing, Dunkerque.

xx xxx 1916:            Pilot, No 5 Sqn, No 4 Wing, RNAS, Dunkerque.

 7 May 1917:           Flight Commander, No 7 Sqn, No 5 Wing, RNAS, Coudekerque

 9 Dec 1917:            Officer Commanding, No 14 Sqn RNAS (Handley Page 0/400)

 1 Apr 1918:            Officer Commanding, No 214 Sqn. (Handley Page 0/400)

20 Mar 1919:           Returned to Home Establishment

31 Mar 1919 - 8 Apr 1924:            Unemployed List.

xx xxx 1921:           Air Adviser to Japanese Naval Air Service.

 8 Apr 1924:            Appointed to a commission in the RAFO, Class A

 8 Apr 1933:            Transferred from Class A to Class C, RAFO

 9 Oct 1939:             Staff Officer - Organisation, HQ Coastal Command.

xx xxx 1941:             SASO, HQ No 19 Group.

24 Mar 1943:           SASO, HQ Transport Command.

13 Jul 1945:              SASO, No 46 (Transport) Group.

11 Dec 1945:            Resigned his Commission

After being educated at Sevenoaks School, he joined Reuters in 1912, by 1914 he was working in their Paris office.  He gained Royal Aero Club Certificate No 1474 on 27 July 1915.  Intending to sent up an air service for Reuters after the war, these plans fell through and instead he went to Newfoundland with a Handley Page V/1500 in order to attempt the trans-Atlantic crossing.  Beaten in the attempt by Alcock and Brown, he flew the other way and completed the first flight from Newfoundland to New York, accompanied by Admiral Mark Kerr.  He also completed a number of other record breaking flights in America.  Returning to Britain, he joined Handley Page as the Chief of the Air Department of Handley Page Transport.

In 1921 he joined the British Air Mission as an Air Adviser to the Japanese Naval Air Service and spent the next three years helping in the organisation and training of the Japanese Naval Air Arm.  Returning to Britain in 1924, he joined the newly formed Imperial Airways as their Air Superintendent as well as remaining a member of the RAFO.  His task with Imperial Airways was to plan operations and organise training as well as carry out route development.  He even undertook some of the developmental flying himself such as the first scheduled flight in the new Armstrong Whitworth Argosy from London to Paris which he carried out on 5 August 1926.  He also personally surveyed the route to be taken by the new four engined flying boats between England and Australia, recommending that large distances could be flown overland. 

Recalled to service in 1939, he was initially assigned to Coastal Command where his experience with flying boats and trans-Atlantic flights proved useful.  However, by the middle of the war the vast operating areas, the speed of modern warfare and the development of airborne forces, not to mention the ferrying of aircraft to and from operational zones, had brought with them the requirement for dedicated transport units.  In 1943 these dedicated units were brought together under the umbrella of the newly created Transport Command.  With his pre-war experience of running an Empire wide airline service, it was appropriate to appoint him to the post of SASO in the new command.

With the end of the war, he relinquished his commission and returned to the civilian airline world, initially as the Assistant to the Chairman of BOAC.  Amongst his post-war achievements was the successful evacuation of 35,000 people from India to Pakistan following the partition of India.  On 1 April 1948 he was appointed Chief Executive of British South American Airways Corporation, but unfortunately on a stop over in Rio de Janeiro during a tour of South America he drowned whilst swimming.

Citation for award of Distinguished Service Order: -

"Flt.-Lieut. Herbert George Brackley, R.N.A.S.

In recognition of his services on the morning of 14th April, 1917, when he carried out a raid on Bruges Harbour with good results in spite of difficult conditions.  Great credit is due to him for his persistence and determination.  He also dropped bombs on Ostend seaplane base on the night of 3-4 May, 1917 making two trips."

(London Gazette  - 22 June 1917) 

Citation for award of Distinguished Service Cross: -

"Flt.-Lieut. Herbert George Brackley, R.N.A.S.

For conspicuously good work as pilot of a bombing machine.  Has carried out twelve raids since the 1st June, 1916, mostly by night.  On one occasion he returned with forty holes in his machine."

(London Gazette - 12 May 1917)

This page was last updated on 15/10/22

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