Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Vice-Marshal A H Orlebar

Augustus Henry                   b: 17 Feb 1897                                                    d: 4 Aug 1943

CBE - 1 Jan 1942, AFC - 2 Jan 1922, Bar - 3 Jun 1930, MiD - 24 Sep 1941.

(Army): - 2 Lt:  15 Jan 1915, (T) Lt: 21 Sep 1915, Lt: 21 Oct 1916 [1 Jun 1916], (T) Capt: 20 Dec 1917.

(RAF): - Lt: 1 Apr 1918, Flt Lt: 1 Aug 1919 [1 Apr 1918], Sqn Ldr: 1 Jul 1928, Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1932, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1937, (T) A/Cdre: 1 Feb 1940, Act AVM: 22 Jul 1941- 1 Jan 1943, A/Cdre (WS): 22 Jul 1942, A/Cdre: 1 Oct 1942 [22 Jul 1942], Act AVM: 1 Mar 1943 - 21 Jun 1943.

15 Jan 1915:           Officer, 1st/5th Bedfordshire Regiment (Gallipoli)

xx xxx 1916:            U/T Pilot.

17 Sep 1916:           Flying Officer, RFC.

xx xxx 1916:            Pilot, No 19 Sqn RFC. (BE12, Spad VII – Western Front)

xx xxx 1917:            Pilot, No 44 Sqn RFC. (Camel – Hainault Farm)

19 Aug 1917:           Precedence backdated to 1 Jun 1916.

20 Dec 1917:           Flight Commander, No 73 Sqn RFC. (Camel – Western Front)

xx xxx 1918:            Instructor

xx Aug 1918:           Flight Commander, No 43 Sqn. (Camel, Snipe – Western Front)

 1 Jul 1919:              Pilot, Aeroplane Experimental Station, Martlesham Heath. (renamed A.E.E - 16 Mar 1920)

 1 Aug 1919:            Relinquishes his commission in the Bedfordshire Regiment (retaining rank of Lieutenant) 

28 Oct 1919:           Granted a Permanent Commission in the rank of Flight Lieutenant (effective from 1 Aug)

16 Mar 1920:          Pilot, Aeroplane Experimental Establishment (Home)

24 Jul 1923:             Flight Commander, No 22 Sqn. (Trials aircraft – Martlesham Heath)

 4 May 1925:           Attended RAF Staff College.

12 Apr 1926:           Air Staff, HQ No 22 Group.

21 Sep 1926:           Supernumerary - awaiting disposal, HQ Iraq Command.

xx xxx 1926:            Air Staff Duties, HQ RAF Iraq Command

 3 Sep 1927:            Staff, Deputy Directorate of Staff Duties.

 9 Jan 1929:             Test Pilot, M.A.E.E.

 2 Dec 1929:            Officer Commanding, Flying Boat Development Flight.

11 May 1931:          Officer Commanding, RAF High Speed Flight.  

Photograph of the RAF High Speed Flight.  A H Orlebar is 4th from the right.  Also on the photo is J N Boothman (2nd from the right) and F W Long (3rd from the left).

 2 Jan 1932:             Staff, HQ No 1 Air Defence Group.

22 Sep 1933:           SASO, HQ Aden Command.

 1 May 1936:           Staff, Directorate of Staff Duties.

12 Jan 1937:            Attended Imperial Defence College.

20 Dec 1937:           Officer Commanding, RAF Northolt.

14 Jan 1940:           Duty Air Commodore, HQ Fighter Command

29 Jul 1940:             Director of Flying Training.

15 Oct 1940:           Air Staff, HQ Fighter Command. 

22 Jul 1941:             AOC, No 10 (Fighter) Group.

 4 Nov 1942:

 2 Mar 1943:            Deputy Chief of Combined Operations.

Educated at Rugby, he was credited with two enemy aircraft destroyed whilst serving with No 19 and a further four as a flight commander in No 73 Squadron, before being wounded and returned home again.  He gained his final victory with 43 on 29 September bringing his total to seven.  In 1931 he was appointed CO of the RAF High Speed Flight for that year’s Schneider Trophy contest which saw the coveted prize won outright for Britain.  On 12 September 1929, he established a World Air Speed Record of 357.7 mph.  He was taken ill in June 1943, resulting in him relinquishing the acting rank of AVM and died in Westminster Hospital.

Citation for the award of the Air Force Cross.

ORLEBAR, Augustus Henry, F/L - awarded as per London Gazette dated 31 December 1921 with effect from 2 January 1922; reported in Aeroplane, 4 January 1922.

"For consistent and exceptionally good work in testing experimental machines.  He has set a splendid example to all at his station and has carried out a very large proportion of the testing which has been done recently.  His determination and keenness to obtain satisfactory results are specially noteworthy."

 (Source - Air 30/46)

Citation for the award of the Bar to the Air Force Cross.

ORLEBAR, Augustus Henry, S/L, AFC - awarded as per London Gazette dated 3 June 1930. 

"This officer commanded the High Speed Flight from 9th January 1929 to 2nd December 1929, with conspicuous success, and the high morale and good team work of the Flight can be directly attributed to his personality, all round ability, and fine qualities of leadership.  He made the first flight himself on each new machine.

"Following the success of the Flight in the Schneider Trophy Contest, Squadron Leader Orlebar created, on 12th September, the world’s air speed record of 357 miles per hour."

(Source - Air 30/84)

Citation for the award of Commander of the Order of the British Empire

ORLEBAR, August Henry, A/V/M, AFC (Royal Air Force) - awarded as per London Gazette dated 1 January 1942.

"Air Vice-Marshal Orlebar has displayed an outstanding personal contribution in the development of night defence.  Throughout the heavy enemy attacks during the winter and spring of 1940-41, he was intensely engaged in building up the night fighter defence as well as the supervision and coordination of its operations."

This page was last updated on 11/12/22

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