Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Commodore P F Fullard

Philip Fletcher               b: 27 May 1897                       r: 20 Nov 1946                    d: 24 Apr 1984

CBE - 1 Jan  1941, DSO - 6 Apr 1918, MC - 9 Jan 1918, Bar - 9 Jan 1918, AFC - 3 Jun 1919, MiD - 5 Jun 1919.

(Army):- (T) 2 Lt (P):  5 Aug 1916, (T) 2 Lt:  12 Jan 1917, (T) Capt: 19 Jun 1917,.

(RAF):- (T) Capt [Lt]: 1 Apr 1918, Act Maj: 24 Sep 1918,  Flt Lt: 1 Aug 1919/31 Dec1920? [1 Apr 1918], Sqn Ldr: 13 Nov 1929, Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1936, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1939, Act A/Cdre: xx xxx xxxx, (T) A/Cdre: 1 Mar 1941, A/Cdre: Retained.

xx xxx xxxx:          Officer, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

xx xxx 1916:            U/T, School of Military Aeronautics, Oxford.

xx xxx 1916:            U/T, No 3/24 Reserve Sqn RFC.

xx xxx 1916:            U/T, Central Flying School

23 Dec 1916:           Flying Officer, RFC

xx Dec 1916:            Instructor, Central Flying School.

xx May 1917:           Pilot, No 1 Sqn RFC

19 Jun 1917:            Flight Commander, No 1 Sqn RFC.

17 Nov 1917:           Convalescing

 1 Aug 1919:            Awarded Permanent Commission as a Captain

 1 Aug - 12 Nov 1919:            Placed on half pay list, scale B.

16 Dec 1919:           Flight Commander, No 12 Sqn.

xx May 1922:          Officer Commanding (Acting?), No 12 Sqn.

29 Jul 1922:             Adjutant, No 4 Sqn.

 5 May 1924:           Attended RAF Staff College.

14 Apr 1925:           Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

 1 Jun 1925:             AI 3 (b), Directorate of Operations and Intelligence.

25 Jan 1928:            Supernumerary, RAF Depot.


 1 Mar 1929:            Air Staff - Operations/Training, HQ Iraq Command.

 8 May 1931:           Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

 6 Sep - 4 Oct 1931:    Placed on half pay list, scale A 

5 Oct 1931:            Attended Senior Officer's (Army) School, Sheerness. (half-pay)

10 Jan - 1 Mar 1932:           Placed on half pay list, scale A 

 1 Mar 1932:           Staff, School of Army Co-operation.

 7 Jan 1933:            Officer Commanding, No 2 Sqn.

23 Dec 1933:          Attended Army Staff College, Quetta.

13 Jul 1935:            Officer Commanding, No 5 Sqn.

31 Dec 1935:          Posted to Home Establishment (sick leave)

23 May 1936:         Supernumerary, HQ RAF Halton.

10 Jul 1936:            Officer Commanding, No 3 (Apprentices) Wing - RAF Halton.

23 Mar 1938:         Supernumerary - non effective (sick), No 1 RAF Depot.

20 Jun 1938:          Air Staff, HQ Maintenance Command.

27 Jul 1939:           Group Captain - Training, HQ No 11 (Fighter) Group.

14 Jan 1940:          Allocated to Air Component of the BEF. (Officer Commanding, No 60 Wing?)

19 Jan 1940:          Officer Commanding, No 14 (Fighter) Group, Air Component of the BEF.

23 Feb - Mar 1940:         Sick leave in UK

xx xxx 1940:           Staff, Department of Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, Air Ministry.

25 Jul 1940:           Supernumerary, HQ No 13 (Fighter) Group

 1 Sep 1940:          SASO, HQ, No 14 (Fighter) Group

30 Nov 1940:        SASO, HQ No 10 (Fighter) Group.

 2 Jun 1942:           Duty Air Commodore, HQ Fighter Command. 

 3 Jul 1943:            AOC, No 246 (Special Operations) Group.?

xx Aug 1943:        Secretary to the Military Mission to Portugal

Relatively unknown and overshadowed by the likes of Ball, Bishop and McCudden, Philip Fullard was one of the highest scoring fighter pilots of WW1 being credited with a final score of 46.  Many would have considered this score on it's own a remarkable achievement, but what made it even  more so was the fact that he achieved it in just six months, a period which included a leave and a sick leave.  However his run of victories was finally brought to an end, not by an enemy bullet, but by a football injury acquired during a match just three days before the start of the battle of Cambrai in November 1917.

Perhaps if the Great War had not come, his career path would have been somewhat different.  He had had a successful sports record whilst at King Edward VI's School in Norwich having been Captain of both the school's hockey and football teams as well as a member of the cricket team.  He had even played in Norwich City's reserve team.  He had been awarded an Exhibition place at Brasenose College, Oxford, but chose to take flying lessons instead in order to gain his RAeC Certificate.  Joining the Inn's of Court Officer Training Corps, he was eventually commissioned into the Royal Irish Fusiliers.  It was not long before he applied to transfer to the RFC and was accepted.   Having attended the School of Aeronautics at Oxford, he underwent his flying training at Netheravon and Upavon, soloing after only three hours and being awarded his 'Wings' in December 1916.  However, he was not posted overseas for active duty but as a flying instructor at Upavon.

This enforced stay in England probably accounted for much of his later success as the greater competence acquired as an instructor assisted him in overcoming his lack of experience in the field when eventually he was posted to France and No 1 Squadron in April 1917. Making his operational debut in May he quickly started scoring with two enemy aircraft that month building up to 12 in August, including three in one day.  Early in September 1917, he damaged a blood vessel during a spin which caused (T) blindness resulting in his absence from operations until October when he shot down a further 12 enemy aircraft.  As well as being an excellent pilot he also became a superb leader, with very few casualties in patrols led by him and resulting in the award of the DSO and the MC and Bar.

Post war he (Temporarily commanded No 12 Squadron, which was the only squadron at that time allocated to the British Army of Occupation and when he assumed command was being run down, finally being disbanded in July 1922. He later  commanded No 2 Squadron (Atlas I) at Manston  and No 5 Squadron (Wapiti IIA) in India.

On the outbreak of WW2, he was appointed OC, No 14 Group which was formed to control the fighters allocated to the Air Component of the British Expeditionary Force.

In early August 1943 he replaced Air Commodore R E deT Vintras as secretary to the Military Mission to Portugal which had just completed negotiations for the use of the Azores as a base for long range anti-submarine aircraft.   However, the arrangements negotiated were difficult to disentangle and A/Cdre Vintras stayed on to assist him until late August before he returned to England.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order

T./Capt. Philip Fletcher Fullard, M.C., Gen. List & R.F.C.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  As a patrol leader and scout pilot he is without equal.  The moral effect of his presence in a patrol is most marked.  He has now accounted for fourteen machines destroyed and eighteen driven down out of control in a little over four months.

(London Gazette - 6 April 1918)

Citation for the award of the Military Cross

"T./2nd Lt. (T./Capt.) Philip Fletcher Fullard, Gen. List and R.F.C.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when engaged in aerial combat.  He has on four occasions attacked and destroyed enemy aircraft, and has in  addition engaged in 25 indecisive combats, in which he has shown fine leadership, great dash,  and determination to close with the enemy."

(London Gazette - 9 January 1918)

Citation for the award of the Bar to the Military Cross

"Temp. Capt. Philip Fletcher Fullard, M.C., Gen. List and R.F.C.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  He has on many occasions displayed the utmost dash and fearlessness in attacking enemy aircraft at close range and in destroying at least eight hostile machine during a period of about ten days.    His determination  and fine offensive spirit he in almost every instance resulted in disaster to the enemy."

(M.C. gazetted in this Gazette.)"

(London Gazette - 9 January 1918)

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