Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Commodore C E H Rathborne

Charles Edward Henry RathborneCharles Edward Henry       b: 17 Feb 1886          r: 13 Oct 1935             d: 21 Dec 1943

CB - 1 Jan 1935, DSO xx xxx 1917, Bar - 16 Dec 1919.

(RMLI): - 2 Lt: 1 Sep 1903, Lt: 1 Jul 1904, Flt Cdr: 1 Jul 1914, Capt: 1 Sep 1914, (T) Maj/Sqn Cdr: 31 Dec 1914, (T) Lt Col/Wg Cdr: 31 Dec 1916.

(RAF): - (T) Lt Col [Maj]: 1 Apr 1918, Wg Cdr: 1 Aug 1919 [1 Apr 1918], Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1925, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1931.

Charles Edward Henry Rathborne

by Bassano Ltd
half-plate glass negative, 18 November 1930
NPG x150229

National Portrait Gallery, London

 1 Sep 1903:               Officer, Royal Marine Light Infantry

27 Mar 1906:             Interpreter (acting) in German, HMS Black Prince (Channel Fleet)

31 Mar 1908:            Staff, Portsmouth Division

 6 Jan - 20 Feb 1909:              Interpreter (German), HMS Vengeance

21 Feb 1909:              Staff, Portsmouth Division

 1 Apr 1909 - 10 Jan 1910:        Interpreter (German), HMS Acteon

11 Jan 1910:              Staff, Chatham Division             

26 Mar 1910 - 17 May 1912:        Interpreter (German), HMS St George

18 May 1912:             Staff, Chatham Division             

17 Jan 1913:               Attended Central Flying School.

17 Apr 1913:              Flying Officer, Naval Wing RFC

17 May 1913:             Interpreter (German), Naval Flying School

15 Aug 1913:              Flight Commander, Felixstowe Naval Air Station

31 Dec 1914:              Squadron Commander, RNAS.  

1915                           Officer Commanding, Redcar Naval Air Station

15 Feb 1915               Officer Commanding, RN Seaplane Base, Dunkirk

12 Sep 1915:              ?

 2 Jul 1916:                 Supernumerary Captain, absorbed into establishment of RMLI

xx xxx 1916:               Officer Commanding, Eastbourne Naval Air Station

30 Jan 1917:               Officer Commanding - Flying Operations, No 3 Wing RNAS.?

xx Apr 1917:               Prisoner of War.

xx xxx 1918:                ?, France

18 Dec 1918:              Officer Commanding, No 68 (Operations) Wing.

25 Apr 1919:               Officer Commanding, No 18 Group.

xx Oct 1919:                Officer Commanding, RAF Isle of Grain.

 1 Aug 1919:               Commission in the RMLI terminated

 1 Aug 1919:               Awarded Permanent Commission as a Lieutenant Colonel

1920                           Officer Commanding - Flying, HMS Argus.

 1 Apr 1920:               Air Staff, HQ Coastal Area.

10 Sep 1923:              Commandant (Designate), M.A.E.E.  

24 Sep 1923:              Commandant, M.A.E.E.

22 Sep 1925:              Officer Commanding, RAF Basrah.

13 May 1927:             Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

xx xxx - 10 Oct 1927:    Placed on half pay

25 Oct 1927:              Officer Commanding, RAF Upper Heyford.

22 Sep 1930:              Senior Air Staff Officer, HQ Inland Area.

22 Jan 1932:               AOC, RAF Mediterranean.

 1 Mar 1932:              Appointment confirmed as a Member of the Nominated Council of Malta.

 1 - 13 Oct 1935:       Placed on half pay list, scale A.

xx xxx 1936:             Deputy Commandant, Southern Area, Observer Corps.

 3 Sep 1939:              Deputy Commandant, Southern Area, Observer Corps, HQ No 11 (Fighter) Group

xx xxx 1943:             London Industrial Alarm Controller (Central and East London Area)

Born in Trieste, he was educated at Winchester, and was a graduate of the first course held at the CFS in April 1913, having gained his RAeC Certificate, No 437 on 4 March 1913.  Flying back to Felixstowe in Maurice Farman, '115' on 22 July 1914, he was compelled by engine problems to alight off Worthing.  Unfortunately the aircraft overturned on landing and was wrecked and he and Telegraphist Stirling had to be rescued by boat.  On 16 May 1915, he attacked a U-boat five miles off Middelkerke, dropping two 20lb bombs without effect.

Having been promoted to Lt Colonel he was awarded the DSO for a bombing attack against Freiburg on 14 April 1917.  Unfortunately he was shot down during this mission and captured.  However in July 1918, he managed to escape from the camp at Holzminden and returned to the British lines, for which he was awarded a Bar to his DSO.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order

"RATHBORNE, Charles Edward Harry, Wing Commander, formerly Captain, Royal Marine Light Infantry and Royal Naval Air Service, now Royal Air Force.

In recognition of his gallantry and devotion to duty during the course of a long distance air raid in which he acted as pilot of a fighting machine which formed part of the escort.  Wing Commander Rathborne was brought down while protecting the bombing machines, his engine having been put out of action.  It was owing to the gallantry and self-sacrifice of this officer and those of the other fighting machines that all the bombing machines returned safely from the raid."

(Source - London Gazette, 17 Jan 1919)

 Citation for the award of the Bar to Distinguished Service Order

RATHBORNE, Charles Edward Harry, Wing Commander, DSO, Royal Air Force

"in recognition being Officers and other ranks of the Royal Air Force, for gallantry while Prisoners of War in escaping, or attempting to escape, from captivity, or for valuable services rendered in the Prison Camps of the Enemy."

(Source - London Gazette, 18 Dec 1919)

This page was last updated on 27/08/23

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