Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Chief Marshal Sir Christopher Courtney

ACM Sir Christopher Courtney being greeted at RCAF Rockcliffe by AM L S Breadner, Chief of the Air Staff, RCAFC L Courtney - 1912Christopher Lloyd           

b: 27 Jun 1890               

 r:  9 Nov 1945                       

d: 22 Oct 1976

GBE - 1 Jan 1945 (CBE - 1 Jan 1919), KCB - 8 Jun 1939 (CB - 6 May 1932), DSO – 30 Nov 1917, MiD - 12 May 1917, SA3 - xx xxx 1917, LoH, C - 2 Nov 1917, LoM (Cdr) - 1 Jan 1946.

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(RN): - Mid’n:  15 Sep 1906, Act Sub-Lt: 30 Nov 1909, Sub-Lt: 24 Sep 1910, Lt: 28 Feb 1911, Flt Cdr: 15 Apr 1913, Sqn Cdr: 1 Jul 1914, Wg Cdr: 31 Dec 1916, Lt-Cdr: 28 Feb 1919.

(RAF): - (T) Lt Col [Maj]: 1 Apr 1918, (T) Col: 1 Apr 1918, Act Brig-Gen: 1 Nov 1918 - 30 Apr 1919, Wg Cdr: 4 Aug 1919, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1925, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1931, AVM: 1 Jan 1935, Act AM (unpd): 1 Oct 1938, AM: 1 Jan 1939, (T) ACM: 1 Jan 1942, ACM: 1 Jun 1943.

Photo (left) - ACM Sir Christopher Courtney being greeted at RCAF Rockcliffe by AM L S Breadner, Chief of the Air Staff, RCAF. Courtesy, Louise Favreau

Photo (centre) - taken from his RAeC Certificate

15 May 1905:            Attended HMS Britannia.

15 Sep 1906:             Midshipman, HMS Prince of Wales

xx Aug 1907:            Midshipman, HMS Venerable (Mediterranean)

 7 Jan 1908:             Midshipman, HMS Venerable (China Station)

 2 Feb 1909:             Midshipman, HMS Implacable (China Station)

 8 Apr 1909:             Midshipman/Officer, HMS Queen (Atlantic Fleet)

18 Jan 1910:            Attended various courses

 4 Apr 1911:            Officer, HMS Formidable (Atlantic Fleet)

14 May 1912:           Officer, HMS Commonwealth (Home Fleet)

19 Aug 1912:            U/T Pilot, Naval Flying School, Eastchurch NAS.

 7 Jan 1913:              Instructor, Naval Flying School, Eastchurch NAS

15 Apr 1913:            Flight Commander, Yarmouth NAS  

 1 Jul 1914:               Squadron Commander, Yarmouth NAS

xx xxx xxxx:              Squadron Commander, HMS Hermes

 1 Jan 1915:              Officer Commanding, Isle of Grain NAS

25 Mar 1915:           Officer Commanding, No 4 Aeroplane Sqn RNAS (Dover)

xx Aug 1915:           Officer Commanding, RNAS Dover

xx Mar 1916:              Officer Commanding, No 4 Wing RNAS (Petite Synthe from 11 Apr 1916)

21 Nov 1917:            Staff Officer, Naval Intelligence Section, Hotel Cecil

 1 Apr 1918:              Deputy Director of Aircraft Equipment

 1 Nov 1918:             GOC, 11th Brigade.

xx xxx 1918:              GOC, Independent Force.?  

xx xxx xxxx:               Officer Commanding, No 2 School of Technical Training

 1 Mar 1919:             Director of ?, Air Ministry

 1 May 1919:             Deputy Director (Equipment)

 1 Aug 1919:              Awarded Permanent Commission as a Lieutenant Colonel.

 1 Aug 1919:              Appointed Deputy Director, 2nd Class

22 Jan 1920:              Removed from the Navy Lists on being awarded Permanent Commission in RAF

6 Apr 1920:               Awaiting disposal, HQ India Group. (pending formation of No 2 (Indian) Wing)

10 Jul 1920:               Officer Commanding, No 2 (Indian) Wing.

 1 Mar 1924:              Attended Army Staff College, Quetta.

 4 Jan 1925:                Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

22 Apr 1925:              Directing Staff, RAF Staff College.

15 Jan 1929:               Deputy Director of Operations and Intelligence.

18 Dec 1930:              Chief Staff Officer, HQ Iraq Command.

xx xxx 1932 - 22 Nov 1932:                AOC, Iraq Command (Temporary)

 6 Dec 1932:               Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

30 Jan 1933:               Director of Training.

 3 Apr 1934:               Director of Staff Duties

26 Jan 1935:               Director of Operations & Intelligence/Deputy Chief of the Air Staff.

Sir Christopher Lloyd Courtney

Sir Christopher Lloyd Courtney

by Walter Stoneman
bromide print, February 1935
NPG x166773

© National Portrait Gallery, London

xx Feb 1937:               AOC, Iraq Command

20-21 Sep 1938:         AOC, No 16 (Reconnaissance) Group.

26 Oct 1938:               Special duty in India

xx xxx 1939:                AOC, No 16 (Reconnaissance) Group.

14 Mar 1939:              AOC in C, Reserve Command  

xx Sep 1939:                ?, Empire Air Training Scheme, Canada

15 Jan 1940:                Air Member for Supply and Organisation

He was educated at Bradfield College and HMS Britannia and first applied to undergo pilot training in 1910 but it was not until 1912 that achieved his wish, gaining RAeC Certificate No 328 on 15 October, transferring to the Naval Wing, RFC.  On 31 May 1913, he delivered the first landplane to Yarmouth.  He commanded 'D' Flight of four aircraft during the Royal Flypast at Spithead on 18 July 1914.

Tipped for the posts of Chief of the Air Staff and AOC in C, Fighter Command, he missed out on both appointments.  The first when MRAF Sir Edward Ellington was replaced by Sir Cyril Newall instead and the second just prior to taking over from Dowding at Fighter Command.  Whilst being flown to Sydenham for the official opening of the new Belfast airport together with Sholto Douglas amongst others, his aircraft flew into a mountainside in Cumberland.  Although not seriously injured it prevented him from taking over the reins of Fighter Command  leaving Dowding to lead the command during the critical period of the Battle of Britain.  Appointed Air Member for Supply and Organisation instead he remained in post for the rest of WW2.  He retired on account of being medically unfit for air force service. 

Turning is hand to business he also found time to devote his energies in support of a number of charitable organisations, such as the Victory Club and the Star and Garter Home.

Citation for the award of the DSO: -

"Wing Cdr. Christopher Lloyd Courtney, R.N.A.S.

In recognition of his services in command of a Wing of the Royal Naval Air Service at Dunkirk.  Squadrons attached to his Wing have invariably shown a high standard of efficiency, and the success of the fighting squadrons generally is largely due to his knowledge and initiative."

(London Gazette - 30 Nov 1917)

Recommendation for the award of Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath: -

“For the KCB I should like to submit the name of Air Marshal C L Courtney, CB, CBE, DSO, who has recently assumed command of the newly formed Reserve Command of the Royal Air Force. His Majesty is familiar with Air Marshal Courtney’s career; he has filled many important appointments with great success and I feel that his services warrant the award."

Source - Letter from CAS to Sir Alexander Hardinge, Private Secretary to King George VI, dated 12 April 1939 (AIR 2/10212).

This page was last updated on 02/02/24

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