Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Vice-Marshal R G Knott (39442)

Ronald George             b: 19 Dec 1917                     r: 18 Mar 1972                     d: 29 Nov 2002

CB – 10 Jun 1967, DSO – 11 Jun 1945, DFC – 28 Apr 1944, AFC – 31 May 1956, Bar – 12 Jun 1958.

Act Plt Off (P): 31 Jan 1937, Plt Off: 16 Nov 1937, Fg Off: 16 Jun 1939, Flt Lt: 3 Sep 1940, (T) Sqn Ldr: 1 Dec 1941, Act Wg Cdr: 20 Apr 1944?, Sqn Ldr (WS): 20 Oct 1944, Sqn Ldr: 28 Aug 1948, Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1955, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1959, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1964, Act AVM: 8 Jun 1967, AVM: 1 Jul 1967.

31 Jan 1937:            Granted a Short Service Commission.

31 Jan 1937:            Initial Officer Training.

 6 Feb 1937:            U/T Pilot, No 2 FTS.

 4 Sep 1937:            Supernumerary, School of Army Co-operation.

 8 Mar 1938:            Pilot, No 20 Sqn. (Audax I)

xx xxx 1940:             Pilot/Flight Commander?, No 5 Coast Defence Flight, Indian Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

xx xxx 1942:             Staff, HQ Coast Defence Wing, Bombay.

 6 Oct 1942:            Transferred to the Reserve and recalled for Air Force Service.

xx xxx 1943:             Attended No 3 (C) OTU.

xx xxx 1943:             Flight Commander, No 179 Sqn. (Wellington VIII/XIV)

13 Jul 1944:              Officer Commanding, No 524 Sqn. ( Wellington XIII)

 4 Jun 1945:              Air Staff, HQ No 16 (Reconnaissance) Group

xx Dec 1945:            Demobilised

xx xxx 1948:              Recalled to service

xx xxx 1948:              Pilot, No ? Sqn

22 Mar 1949:            Granted a Permanent Commission in the rank of Squadron Leader.

xx xxx 1949:              Operations Staff, RAF Gatow.

xx xxx 1950:              Officer Commanding, RAF Eindhoven.

xx xxx 1951:              Staff, HQ 2nd TAF.

xx Jan 1952:              Attended RAF Staff College.

xx xxx 1953:              Attended Course No 155, Central Flying School.

xx xxx 1953:              Staff, HQ Flying Training Command.

xx xxx 1956:              CFI, Central Flying School.

20 Dec 1958:            Air Staff, Directorate of Air Staff Briefing

19 Sep 1959:            Officer Commanding, RAF Gutersloh.

23 May 1961:            Assistant Chief of Staff - Plans, HQ 2nd ATAF.

xx xxx 1963:              Defence Res.(?) Staff, MoD.

 7 Jan 1964:               Director of Operational Requirements (2).

 8 Jun 1967:               SASO, HQ Near East Air Force/Chief of Staff, HQ British Forces (Near East).

 2 Feb 1970:              AOA, HQ Air Support Command.

The son of a Royal Marine officer he attended Borden Grammar School in Sittingbourne and learnt to fly at a civilian flying club at Yatesbury, prior to joining the RAF.  On completion of his service flying training, he was posted to India, where he joined No 20 Squadron, then stationed at Peshawar, flying the Hawker Audax.  The squadron also operated detachments at Miranshah and Kohat.  In 1940, he joined a Flight of the Indian Air Force Volunteer Reserve at Drigh Road near Karachi, possibly as the flight commander.  His final posting in India began in 1942, when he was posted to the staff of the Coast Defence Wing, which controlled the various Coast Defence Flights in India.

After nearly five years in India, he returned to Britain, converted to the Wellington and was appointed as a flight commander with No 179 Squadron in Gibraltar, flying Leigh-Light equipped Wellingtons on anti-submarine patrols.  In July 1943, whilst still with No 3 OTU, he was forced to ditch in the North Sea, following failure of both engines.  He and his crew abandoned the aircraft safely and were eventually picked up by a fishing boat after 20 hours adrift.  He was awarded a DFC during this period, see his citation below.  He was promoted to take command of No 524 Squadron in 1944 and was tasked with developing a new method of operation.  His squadron's aircraft would detect E-boats at night and vector strike aircraft onto them and he personally was awarded the DSO for his work with the squadron

With the end of the war, his short service commission came to an end and he was demobilised, becoming the pilot to the Chairman of shoe manufacturer Bata. However, the start of the Berlin Airlift in 1948, resulted in him being recalled to service and he was soon flying supplies into the city.  The following year he joined the operations staff at one of the terminal airfields in the city, Gatow and in the same year he was appointed to a permanent commission.  With the airlift over, he was given command of RAF Eindhoven in Holland and was then posted to HQ 2nd Tactical Air Force.

Returning to Britain at the beginning of 1952, he attended the RAF Staff College, after which he joined the air staff of Flying Training Command, having qualified as a QFI in September 1953 and having been awarded the CFS Trophy.  In 1956, he was appointed Chief Flying Instructor at the Central Flying School and as such was responsible for the training of all the RAF's QFIs. He was awarded an AFC in 1956 and a Bar to the AFC in 1958 for his work in this field.  A short spell in the Air Ministry was followed by command of RAF Gutersloh in Germany, which at that time was home to a Wing of Hunter fighter-reconnaissance aircraft.  In 1963, he found himself, once again at HQ 2nd Tactical Air Force as Assistant Chief of Staff (Plans).

From early 1964, he was Director of Operational Requirements (2) at the Ministry of Defence and during his tenure, he championed two major projects.  The first being the supersonic TSR2, which despite its advanced technology, was scrapped by the Labour Government in 1965.  The second project was much more successful and this was the Nimrod, maritime reconnaissance aircraft, which remains in service today (2005).  He was also involved in the development of helicopters manufactured under joint agreement between Britain and France.

In 1967, he was posted to Cyprus, as SASO, where he was confronted with problems such as Colonel Gadaffi's take over of Lybia and Britain's withdrawal from Aden. After three years there he returned to the UK and assumed the post of AOA at HQ Air Support Command.  In his retirement in Kent, he became chairman of the Weald of Kent Preservation Society and he played an important role in the discussions that resulted in the decision to route the Channel tunnel rail link into King’s Cross, he also established a vineyard in the county.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

“Squadron Leader Ronald George KNOTT (39442), Reserve of Air-Force Officers, No. 179 Squadron.

During his present tour of operational duty this officer has 'sighted 4 enemy submarines at night and has made determined attacks on 3 of the U-boats.  On each of these occasions Squadron Leader Knott pressed home his attack in the face of intense fire from the U-boat's guns.  This officer has displayed .commendable courage and devotion to duty.”

(London Gazette – 28 April 1944)

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order

“Acting Wing Commander Ronald George KNOTT, D.F.C. (39442), R.A.F.O., 524 Sqn.

This officer has commanded the squadron, with outstanding success for many months.  During the period he has participated in numerous attacks on enemy shipping.  In these operations he has displayed the highest standard of skill, courage and leadership, qualities which have contributed in good measure to the successes obtained.  His devotion to duty over a long .period of operational flying “

(London Gazette – 11 Jun 1945)

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