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Air Marshal Sir John D'Albiac

J H D'Albiac - 1918Sir John Henry D'AlbiacJohn Henry                    b: 28 Jan 1894                 r: 14 Apr 1947                        d: 20 Aug 1963

KCVO - 1 Jan 1957, KBE - 1 Jan 1946, CB - 24 Sep 1941, DSO - 22 Jun 1916, MiD - 2 Jun 1943, OP(GO) - 29 Dec 1942, LoM (Cdr) - 26 Sep 1944, ON-GC - 9 Oct 1945.  

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(RM/RNAS): - (T) 2 Lt: 3 Dec 1914, (T) Lt: 17 Jul 1915, (T) Capt: 25 Mar 1917, (P) (T) Flt Cdr:  31 Dec 1917.

(RAF): - (T) Maj [Capt]: 1 Apr 1918, Maj (A): 24 - 31 Jul 1919, Flt Lt: 1 Aug 1919 [1 Apr 1918], Sqn Ldr: 1 Jan 1923, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1931, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1937, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1939, Act AVM: 15 Nov 1940, (T) AVM: 1 Jun 1941, AVM: 15 Mar 1942, Act AM: 1 Jun 1943? - 21 Jan 1944, AM: Retained.

Sir John Henry D'Albiac

by Elliott & Fry
bromide print
NPG x86928

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Photo (far left) - from his RAeC Certificate.

xx Aug 1914:              Private, The Middlesex Regiment

 3 Dec 1914:              Officer, Royal Marine Artillery

 3 Feb 1915:               Observer, No 1 Sqn RNAS.

21 Jun 1915:               Observer, No 1 Wing RNAS.

xx xxx 1917:                Recording Officer, No 8 Sqn RNAS

xx xxx 1917:                Administration Officer, RNAS HQ, Dunkerque

xx xxx 1918:               Officer Commanding, RAF Scopwick (Digby).

24 Jul 1919:                 Staff Officer, HQ No 29 (Fleet) Group.

 1 Aug 1919:               Awarded Permanent Commission as a Captain  

xx May 1920:              Awaiting disposal, HQ Middle East Area.

18 May 1920:              Stores Staff Duties, HQ Middle East Area

24 Oct 1921:               U/T Pilot, No 4 FTS

13 Feb 1922:               Pilot, No 47 Sqn.

 1 Apr 1922:                Staff, HQ RAF Trans-Jordania

 1 Mar 1923:                Staff, HQ RAF Trans Jordania.

25 May 1926:              Flight Commander, No 99 Sqn. (Hyderabad – Bircham Newton)

24 Apr 1927:               Air Staff, HQ ADGB.

21 Jan 1929:                Attended RAF Staff College.

14 Dec 1929:               Air Staff, HQ No 22 Group.

23 Nov - 3 Dec 1930:    Attended Senior Army Officers' Course, Old Sarum

27 Nov - 2 Dec 1931:    Attended Higher Commanders' Course, Old Sarum.

28 Dec 1932:               Attended Army Staff College , Quetta.

18 Dec 1934:               Officer Commanding, Aircraft Park - India (Lahore)

xx xxx 1937:                 Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

22 Mar 1937:               SASO, No 22 Group.

17 Jan 1939:                 Attended Imperial Defence College. (Course ended prematurely)

10 Aug 1939:                AOC, RAF Palestine and Transjordan.

15 Nov 1940:                AOC, British Forces in Greece.

 2 May 1941 :                AOC, RAF Palestine and Transjordan.

 1 Jun 1941:                   AOC, British Forces in Iraq.

xx Aug 1941:                 AOC, AHQ Iraq.  

13 Mar 1942:                AOC, No 222 (General Reconnaissance) Group.

 3 Dec 1942:                 In transit to the UK

29 Dec 1942:                AOC, No 2 Group.

 1 Jun 1943:                  AOC, Tactical Air Force HQ

21 Jan 1944:                 In transit to the Mediterranean

 3 Feb 1944:                 Deputy Commander, Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air Force

18 Jul 1944                   Attached to HQ Tactical Air Force, Central Mediterranean Forces

xx Nov 1944:                Director-General of Personnel (Permanent Commission Selection Board).

 7 Jan 1947 – xx xxx 1957:                Aerodrome Commandant, London Heathrow Airport.

He was educated at Framlingham School.

On 6 September 1915, he was acting as observer to Flt Sub-Lt Mulock, when they sighted and attacked a submarine seven miles North of Ostend, one of the first, if not the first attack made on  a submarine by a British aircraft. 

He gained RAeC Certificate No 5732 on 1 March 1918.

With the Italian attack on Greece in 1940 D'Albiac found himself promoted to Air Vice Marshal and appointed commander of the meagre air forces in Greece.  These forces consisting of 80 aircraft against approximately 800 German and 300 Italian machines.  His return to Palestine was short-lived as he was almost immediately posted to Iraq following the premature removal of AVM Smart as a result of the 'Battle of Habbaniya'.  However, he almost didn't make it as the aircraft transporting him, Blenheim IV (T1820), swung on take-off from Lydda and hit a steam roller, killing an Arab workman.

Within a month of assuming command in Ceylon, he was faced with an attempted assault on the island by the Japanese Navy.  To combat this assault of over 300 carrier borne aircraft, he had a force of 50 Hurricanes, 14 Blenheims, six Catalina’s and some Fulmars of the FAA.  Heavily outnumbered, his forces successfully fought off the Japanese, who never again ventured into the Indian Ocean in any force.  Having formed the new 2nd Tactical Air Force, he found himself replaced by Arthur Coningham six months later.  After retiring from Heathrow he became Deputy Chairman of the Air Transport Advisory Council retiring in 1961.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order

“Lieutenant John Henry D’Albiac, R.M.A.

In recognition of his services as an aeroplane observer at Dunkirk since February, 1915.  During the past year Lieutenant D’Albiac has been continually employed in coastal reconnaissances and fighting patrols. The Vice-Admiral Commanding the Dover Patrol, in reporting on the work of the R.N.A.S. at Dunkirk, lays particular emphasis on the good work done by the observers.”

(London Gazette – 22 June 1916)

This page was last updated on 16/10/22

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