Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Marshal of the RAF Sir John Grandy (32078)

b:   8 Dec 1913                     r:   1 Apr 1971                     d:  2 Jan 2004

GCB - 1 Jan 1967 (KCB – 13 Jun 1964, CB – 31 May 1956), GCVO – 31 Dec 1987, KBE – 10 Jun 1961, DSO – 19 Oct 1945, K StJ - 31 Jan 1974,    MiD - 1 Jan 1943, MiD – 1 Jan 1945, PMN - xx xxx 1967.  

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

Plt Off (P):  11 Sep 1931, Plt Off: 11 Sep 1932, Fg Off: 11 Jun 1933, Flt Lt: 11 Jun 1936, Sqn Ldr:  1 Dec 1939, (T) Wg Cdr:  1 Mar 1941, Act Gp Capt: 12 Feb 1942, Wg Cdr (WS): 12 Aug 1942, (T) Gp Capt:  1 Jul 1944, Wg Cdr:  1 Oct 1946, Gp Capt:  1 Jan 1950, Act A/Cdre: 11 May 1953, A/Cdre:  1 Jan 1956, Act AVM:  6 Dec 1957, AVM: 1 Jul 1958, Act AM: 7 Jan 1961, AM:  1 Jan 1962, ACM: 1 Apr 1965, MRAF:  1 Apr 1971.  

Photo - Crown Copyright (expired)©

11 Sep 1931:            Granted a Short Service Commission

11 Sep 1931:            Officer Training, RAF Depot.

26 Sep 1931            U/T Pilot, No 5 FTS.

29 Aug 1932:            Pilot, No 54 Sqn.  

15 Apr 1935:            Assistant Adjutant, No 604 (County of Middlesex) Sqn AAF.

13 Jan 1936:             Attended Instructors' Course, Central Flying School (graded B).

30 Mar 1936:            QFI, No 9 FTS.

11 Sep 1936:            Granted a Permanent Commission in the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

xx Dec 1936:            Re-categorised from Instructor B to Instructor A2

 5 Jan 1937:              Adjutant & QFI, University of London Air Squadron

 6 Feb 1939:             Supernumerary, HQ No 21 (Training) Group.

13 Feb 1939:            Squadron Commander, No 13 FTS.

 6 Nov 1939:            Squadron Commander, Central Gunnery School

14 Apr 1940:            Officer Commanding, No 219 Sqn.

16 May 1940:           Officer Commanding, No 249 Sqn.

 6 Sep 1940:             Admitted to Maidstone Hospital after being injured following a bale out

 6 Dec 1940:             Air Staff, HQ Fighter Command.

22 Feb 1941:            Staff, No 52 OTU.

23 Nov 1941:           Wing Commander - Flying, RAF Coltishall.

12 Feb 1942:            Officer Commanding, RAF Duxford

15 Feb 1943:             Supernumerary, HQ No 210 Group

16 Feb 1943:             Officer Commanding, No 210 Group.

19 Sep 1943:            Officer Commanding, No 73 OTU/RAF Abu Sueir.

21 Jun 1944:             Officer Commanding, No 73 OTU/RAF Fayid

 3 Feb 1945:             Officer Commanding, No 341 Wing.

15 Sep 1945:            SASO, No 232 Group.

 2 May 1946:            Attended Army Staff College

14 Dec 1946:            Deputy Director of Operational Training.*

 8 Jan 1949:             Air Attaché, Brussels

13 Nov 1950:           Wing Commander - Flying, Northern Sector - Fighter Command.

9 May 1952:             Group Captain - Operations, HQ Fighter Command

10 Dec 1954:            Commandant, Central Fighter Establishment

 8 Jan 1957:              Attended Imperial Defence College

 2 Sep 1957:             Commander - Operation 'Grapple'

17 Oct 1958:            Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Operations)

 7 Jan 1961:              C in C, RAF Germany/Commander, 2nd Tactical Air Force

 1 Sep 1963:             AOC in C, Bomber Command

28 May 1965:           C in C, Far East Command/UK Military Adviser to SEATO

 1 Apr 1967:             Chief of the Air Staff.  

30 Apr 1971:            Placed on half pay.

 3 Oct 1973 - xx xxx 1974:             Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Gibraltar

11 Aug 1978 - 9 Feb 1988:            Governor and Constable of Windsor Castle.

* Not shown in 1949 AFL.  

He joined the RAF as a direct entrant from University College School, London in 1931.  He was posted to No 5 FTS at Sealand.  Selected as a fighter  pilot he joined No 54 Squadron at Hornchurch flying the Bristol Bulldog IIa.  In 1935 he moved to Hendon to join No 604 (County of Middlesex) Squadron of the Auxiliary Air Force.  Here he was the a member of the permanent squadron staff, tasked with assisting in the conversion of it's pilots from the bomber role to the fighter role, having been re-equipped with Hawker Demons in 1934.   Following completion of this task he attended the instructors course at the CFS, gaining a very rare A1 category.  This was followed by a posting to No 9 FTS and then his appointment as Adjutant and a QFI with the University of London Air Squadron.  In 1936, he was granted a permanent commission.

From ULAS, he moved to No 13 FTS as a squadron commander and in April 1940, he was appointed to command No 219 Squadron, equipped with Blenheim, twin-engined fighters.  A moth later, he left No 219 and was given the task of reforming No 249 Squadron as a Hurricane fighter unit.   Whilst OC, one of his Flight Commanders, Flt Lt J B Nicholson, was awarded Fighter Command's only VC for remaining in his burning Hurricane until he had completed the destruction of the enemy aircraft he was attacking.  He commanded the squadron throughout the Battle of Britain and hence became the only Chief of the Air Staff to have done so.

He relinquished command of No 249 in December 1940 and after a spell at  Fighter Command HQ, he became an instructor at No 52 OTU, training fighter pilots.  He was back on operations as Wing Leader of the Coltishall Wing in November 1941 but early in 1942, he was given command of RAF Duxford.  It was here that he became responsible for establishing the first Typhoon Wing in the RAF.  He involved himself in the test flying of this new aircraft, which initially was developing a reputation as something of a problem.  He also flew on operations whenever possible, including during the  Dieppe raid in August 1942.

A move to the Middle East in early 1943 brought him command of No 210 (Air Defence) Group, which controlled fighter units in the Tripoli area.  He returned to training in September 1943, when he was given command of No 73 OTU, again training fighter pilots.  In early 1945, he tried to get back to fighter operations, but found himself posted to Burma in command of No 341 Wing, whose squadrons were equipped with Dakotas and whose main task was supplying the requirements of the 14th Army.  Whilst flying over Rangoon on 4 May 1945, he saw "JAP GONE, RAF HERE, EXTRACT DIGIT" painted on the roof of a PoW prison.  Landing at nearby Mingaladon, he was able to evacuate some of the weaker prisoners.  He was also involved in the evacuation of civilians from the Dutch East Indies during the immediate post-war period.

Before leaving the Far East he was appointed SASO of No 232 Group, until early 1946 when he returned to Britain and attended the Army Staff College.  He then spent a couple of years at the Air Ministry before being appointed Air Attaché in Belgium, after which he filled various staff appointments before taking over as Commandant of the Central Fighter Establishment.  Attendance at the Imperial Defence College preceded his return east, this time to the Pacific in command of the units attached to Operation 'Grapple Y' and 'Z'. These were the second part of the British Hydrogen Bomb trials, operating from Christmas Island.

A tour at the Air Ministry as Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Operations), preceded a move to Germany as Commander of 2nd Tactical Air Force.  Command of Bomber Command was followed by a tour as C in C, Far East Command where he was in command of all British Forces in the Far East before his appointment as Chief of the Air Staff, which came into effect on the 49th anniversary of the formation of the RAF.  During his tenure, he had to preside over a many changes, including the withdrawal of British forces for east of Suez, the cancellation of some of the most technologically advanced projects and the transfer of the nuclear deterrent to the Royal Navy.  In 1968, he was made a Freeman of the City of London and also a Honorary Liveryman of the  Haberdashers’ Company.

On retiring from the RAF he joined the Board of Brixton Estates Ltd, but left this position in 1973 on his appointment as the first Governor and C in C of Gibraltar, which he took up on 3 October, returning to the Board once again in 1978 and remaining a Director until 1983.  He has also been a member and/or official of many bodies and organisations including the Imperial War Museum (Trustee 1971 - 78, Chairman 1978 - 89), RAF Benevolent Fund, Shuttleworth Remembrance Trust, National Association of Boy's  Clubs and the RNLI.  He was also a trustee of the RAF church, St Clement Danes, the Prince Philip Trust Fund and the Burma Star Association.  He was President of the Air League from 1984 to 1987 

This page was last updated on 27/02/24©

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