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Air Marshal Sir Geoffrey Dhenin (138384)

Geoffrey Howard     b: 2 Apr 1918                      r: 31 Mar 1978                                    d: 6 May 2011

KBE –  1 Jan 1975, AFC - 1 Jan 1954, Bar - 13 Jun 1959, GM - 14 Jan 1944, CStJ - 29 Nov 1974, QHP - 3 Aug 1970, MA, MD, ChB, MRCS, LRCP, MFCM, DPH, FRAeS, MiD - 14 Jun 1945

(RAF): - Fg Off (Emer): 11 Feb 1943, (WS) Flt Lt: 11 Feb 1944 [11 Aug 1943 wef 15 Jul 1947], Sqn Ldr: 11 Aug 1950 [11 Aug 1948 wef 10 Oct 1950], Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1953, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1961, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1967, AVM: 1 Jul 1970, AM: 1 Jan 1974

11 Feb 1943:           Appointed to an Emergency Commission

xx xxx 1943:            Medical Officer, No 22 OTU

14 Apr 1943:           Medical Officer i/c, RAF Kirmington

 7 Jun 1943:            Attended Course in Aviation Medicine, Farnborough

21 May 1944:          Posted to No 1 Personnel Despatch Centre

 8 Jun 1944:             Medical Officer, Mobile Field Hospital (Normandy)

xx xxx 1945:            FFAF Liaison Officer, No ? OTU, Acklington

xx xxx 1945:            U/T Pilot

 1 Sep 1945:            Appointed to a Permanent Commission in the rank of Flight Lieutenant

xx xxx xxxx:            Medical Officer, RAF ?

xx xxx xxxx:            Flying Medical Officer, RAF Institute of Aviation Medicine, Farnborough

xx xxx xxxx:            Flying Medical Officer, Central Bomber Establishment

xx xxx 1950:           Attended No 1 Flying College Course, RAF Flying College, Manby

xx xxx xxxx:            Staff, RAF Flying College, Manby

xx xxx xxxx:            Qualified as a Radiologist

10 Nov 1952:         Deputy Principal Medical Officer (Flying), HQ Bomber Command

xx xxx xxxx:            Atomic Energy Research Establishment

xx xxx 1959:           Attended RAF Staff College, Bracknell

xx xxx 1960:           Officer Commanding, Princess Mary’s RAF Hospital in Akrotiri, Cyprus

xx xxx 1963:           Officer Commanding, RAF Hospital, Ely

18 Jul 1966:            Principal Medical Officer, Air Support Command

 4 Apr 1968:           Director of Health and Research, RAF

6 Jul 1970:              Deputy Director-General of RAF Medical Services

 3 Aug 1970-31 Mar 1978:            Appointed Honorary Physician to The Queen

15 Jan 1971:            Principal Medical Officer, HQ Strike Command

18 Jan 1974:            Director-General of RAF Medical Services

Geoffrey Dhenin was born in Bridgend, Glamorgan.  He was educated at Hereford Cathedral School and St John’s College, Cambridge, where he read the natural sciences tripos (for medicine) before completing his clinical training at Guy’s Hospital, London.  After serving at RAF Kirmington where he was awarded the George Medal (see below) he joined a mobile hospital two days after D-Day.

Whilst serving as a liaison officer to the Free French at RAF Acklington he met his wife who was serving there as a French Officer.  Retained in the post-war air force and awarded a permanent commission he became one of the few RAF Medical Officers to qualify as a pilot, permitting him to carry out much research into aviation medical problems himself.  In 1953 he piloted a Canberra which flew through the 'mushroom' cloud of Britain's first Atom bomb on the Maralinga ranges in Australia for which he was awarded the AFC.  Four years later he took part in the British H-bomb tests from Christmas Island, receiving a Bar to his AFC.

He retired at his own request and became an adviser to the Saudi Arabian National Guard as well as editing the Textbook of Aviation Medicine in 1978.

Citation for the award of the George Medal

"Flying Officer Geoffrey Howard Dhenin, M.B., Ch.B., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. (138354), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night in October, 1943, an aircraft, which had sustained damage during an attack against Hanover, crashed near an airfield. The aircraft disintegrated on impact and immediately burst into flames. The rear gunner was injured and trapped in his crushed turret, being pinned down by the remains of the tail unit and the rear of the fuselage. A high explosive bomb was in the blazing wreckage some 10 yards away from the gunner. Flying Officer Dhenin, the station medical officer, and Corporal Lush, a gunner, hastened to the scene of the accident. Although fully aware that the heat might cause the bomb to detonate at any moment Flying Officer Dhenin worked for over half an hour to relieve the injured airman's pain and, assisted by Corporal Lush, endeavoured to release him. Their efforts to extricate the gunner were, however, unavailing. A mobile crane was brought to the scene and the mass of wreckage was lifted clear of the ground. Displaying complete disregard for his own safety, Flying Officer Dhenin then crawled under the wreckage and released the trapped airman thereby enabling others helpers to drag him to safety. Flying Officer Dhenin and Corporal Lush showed fine courage and determination in circumstances of great danger."

(London Gazette - 14 January 1944)

This page was last updated on 18/03/24

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