Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Marshal of the RAF Sir Thomas Pike (16202)

Thomas Geoffrey            b:  29 Jun 1906              r:   1 Mar 1967                     d:   1 Jun 1983

GCB - 1 Jan 1961 (KCB - 9 Jun 1955, CB - 1 Jan 1946), CBE - 8 Jun 1944, DFC - 13 May 1941, Bar - 30 May 1941, MiD - 2 Jun 1943, LoM (O) - 16 Oct 1945, DL (Essex) - 7 Feb 1973 - 8 Dec 1981.

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

Plt Off: 16 Dec 1925, Fg Off: 16 Jun 1927, Flt Lt:  9 Jul 1930, Sqn Ldr: 1 Feb 1937, Act Wg Cdr:  4 Jan 1940, (T) Wg Cdr: 1 Mar 1940, Act Gp Capt: 29 Sep 1941, (T) Gp Capt: 1 Mar 1942, Wg Cdr: 14 Apr 1942 [1 Jan 1940], Act A/Cdre:  21 Feb 1944, Gp Capt (W): 21 Aug 1944, (T) A/Cdre:  1 Jan 1946, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1946, A/Cdre:  1 Jul 1947, Act AVM:  9 Jan 1950, AVM: 1 Jul 1950, Act AM:  9 Nov 1953, AM:  1 Jan 1955, ACM:  1 Nov 1957, MRAF:  6 Apr 1962.

18 Jan 1924:            Flight Cadet, 'B' Sqn, RAF College.

16 Dec 1925:           Appointed to a Permanent Commission.

16 Dec 1925:           Pilot, No 56 Sqn.

xx xxx - 1 Jan 1928:    Officer Commanding, 'A' Flight, No 56 Sqn

 2 Oct 1928:            Attended Instructors' Course, Central Flying School.

19  Dec 1928:          Instructor, No 5 FTS.

 6 May 1929:           Instructor, Central Flying School.

 5 Aug 1930:            Attended Long Aircraft Engineering Course, Home Aircraft Depot.

 1 Oct 1932:            Engineering Staff, RAF Depot, Middle East

13 Nov 1934:           Instructor, No 4 FTS.

19 Jan 1937:            Attended RAF Staff College.

 1 Jan 1938:             CFI, No 10 Flying Training School, Tern Hill

14 Feb 1939:           Staff Officer, Deputy Directorate of Peace Organisation.

xx Sep 1939:             Head of O1, Deputy Directorate of  Organisation (1).

 4 Feb 1941:            Officer Commanding, No 219 Sqn.

29 Sep 1941:           Air Staff - Night Fighters, HQ No 11 Group.

 2 Feb 1942:            Officer Commanding, RAF North Weald.

 5 Aug 1942             SOA, HQ No 11/12? Group.

16 May 1943:           Officer Commanding, No 1 Mobile Operations Room Unit.

21 Feb 1944:            SASO, HQ Desert Air Force.

23 Jun 1945:             Commandant, Officer Advanced Training School.

xx Jul 1945:              Commandant, No 1 OATS. (RAF Digby from 13 Sep 1945)

12 Oct 1946:            Director of Operational Requirements.

1948                        ?

11 Jan 1949:            Attended Imperial Defence College.

 9 Jan 1950:             AOC, No 11 Group.

21 Jul 1951:             Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations), HQ Allied Air Forces Central Europe.

12 Jun 1953:            Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Policy)

 9 Nov 1953:           Deputy Chief of the Air Staff.

 8 Aug 1956:            AOC in C, Fighter Command.

30 Jul 1959:             ?

 1 Jan 1960:             Chief of the Air Staff.

 1 Jan 1964:             Deputy Supreme Commander Allied Powers Europe.

 8 May 1967:           Placed on Half-Pay List.

Another 'old boy' of Bedford School, he entered the RAF College at Cranwell in 1924 and attained the rank of Flt Cdt Cpl prior to graduating in 1925.  He started his flying career as a fighter pilot with No 56 Squadron at Biggin Hill initially flying Gloster Grebes and later Armstrong Whitworth Siskins.  Qualifying as an instructor he then served at No 5 FTS, Sealand before returning to the Central Flying School to train instructors.  Whilst at the CFS he was a member of the School's five man aerobatic team  of Gipsy Moths in 1930.  As was the norm in the pre war years, he decided to further his knowledge and experience by training as a engineer which required him to attend the two year Engineering Officer's course at the Home Aircraft Depot, Henlow.

Suitably qualified, he was posted to the Middle East as an engineer.  Remaining in  the Middle East he returned to training as an instructor at No 4 FTS at Abu Sueir, Egypt.  His middle eastern tour completed he was selected to attend the RAF Staff College at Andover, but instead of being posted to a staff position on completion, he returned to flying training, this time as Chief Flying Instructor at Tern Hill.  However, in 1939, he received his staff posting which was in the Deputy Directorate of  Peace Organisation.  When this deputy directorate became superfluous and its functions absorbed in the Directorate of Organisation, he remained until early 1941.

He at last returned to operations as CO of No 219 Squadron, equipped with Beaufighter night fighters at Tangmere.  He soon made his mark, shooting down a German aircraft on his very first patrol and a further three night victories brought him a Bar to his DFC which he had won earlier in the year.  Having developed some expertise as a night fighter pilot, it was no surprise to find his next posting being as a Staff officer at HQ Fighter Command with responsibility for night fighters.  Command of RAF North Weald and a further spell as a staff officer was followed by a posting overseas.

Initially taking command of a mobile operations unit, in early 1944, he was promoted to air commodore and appointed SASO to the Desert Air Force, remaining as such for the remainder of the Italian campaign.  On his return to Britain, he assumed command of the Officer's Advanced Training School before once again entering the Air Ministry as Director of Operational Requirements.  He held this post during an important period of RAF history as plans were brought to fruition for the replacement of the numerous wartime piston engined aircraft by the new breed of jet powered fighters and later bombers. 

However, having overseen the introduction of many new types and prepared the way for the further introduction of others, he returned to study, this time at the Imperial Defence College.  Following completion of the IDC course, he returned to the fighter world as AOC, No 11 Group.  His first NATO appointment came in 1951 when he assumed the duties of Chief of Staff (Operations) at the, then, HQ in Fontainbleu, France.   Returning to the Air Ministry as ?, he was soon appointed Deputy Chief off the Air Staff with a seat on the Air Council following the unfortunate and untimely death of Air Marshal W A D Brook.  Having commanded a fighter squadron, station and group, he completed the set when he was appointed AOC in C, Fighter Command in 1956.

At the turn of 1960, he was appointed to the ultimate post in the RAF, that of Chief of the Air Staff.  He held the post during a period of major changes in defence policy, such as the scrapping of Blue Streak, cancellation of Skybolt and the decision to hand over the guardianship of the nuclear deterrent to the Royal Navy.  In 1962, he undertook a World Tour visiting RCAF and USAF bases as well as RAF units overseas.  During this tour he addressed both the RCAF Staff College and the United States War College.  Unlike his predecessors, his spell as CAS did not bring his career to an end, having been offered the post of Deputy Supreme Allied Commander.  Accepting the appointment somewhat reluctantly he served for three years, but at the end of it, he knew that his initial reluctance had been proved correct.

In retirement, he became an active member of his local community.   He was President of RAFA for 10 years between 1969 and 1978 and was made Deputy Lt of Essex in 1973, retaining the post until 1981.  He died in the RAF Hospital at Halton in 1983.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

“Wing Commander Thomas Geoffrey PIKE (16202) — No.219 Squadron.

This officer, who recently assumed command of the squadron, has shown great skill in intercepting enemy aircraft at night.  During his first night patrol, he intercepted and, it is believed,  destroyed a  aiding aircraft.  He has since destroyed 3 enemy aircraft, of which 2 were destroyed during one night.  His keenness and example have had a splendid effect on other members of his squadron.”

 (London Gazette – 13 May  1941)

Citation for the award of the Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross.

“Wing Commander Thomas Geoffrey PIKE, D.F.C. (16202), No.219 Squadron.

This officer has displayed outstanding skill and keenness in his efforts to seek and destroy the enemy at night.  One night recently while his aerodrome was being bombed, he took off to engage the attackers  when the aerodrome was illuminated by the glare from a large number of incendiary bombs.”

 (London Gazette – 30 May 1941)

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