Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Marshal Sir John Rowlands (73378)

John Samuel                 b: 23 Sep 1915            r: 1 Jul 1973            d:  4 Jun 2006

GC 10 Aug 1943, KBE 12 Jun 1971 (OBE 1 Jan 1954; MBE 11 Jun 1942), BSc, CEng, FRAeS, M Inst P (A Inst P),

(RAFVR): - Plt Off (P): 4 Apr 1939, (H) Fg Off: 4 Apr 1939, Fg Off: 8 Sep 1939, Act Flt Lt: xx xxx xxxx, (T) Flt Lt: 1 Dec 1941, Act Sqn Ldr: 2 Nov 1942, Flt Lt (WS): 2 Apr 1943, Act Wg Cdr: 13 Jul 1944, Sqn Ldr (WS): 13 Jan 1944,

(RAF): - Flt Lt: 1 Sep 1945, Sqn Ldr: 3 Dec 1946 [1 Jan 1945], Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1952, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1958, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1963, Act AVM: 4 Jun 1968, AVM: 1 Jul 1968, Act AM: 13 Apr 1970, AM: 1 Jul 1971.

4 Apr 1939:                 Appointed to a Commission in the Admin and Special Duties Branch, RAFVR

 7 Oct 1940:                 Transferred to the Technical Branch

23 Sep 1940:               Staff Officer, Deputy Directorate of Organisation (1)

 7 Oct 1940:                Staff Officer, T Arm 4, Directorate of Flying Training.

xx xxx xxxx:                 Staff Officer, Deputy Directorate of Organisation (1)

xx Oct 1943:                Bomb Disposal Officer, HQ North-West African Air Force

xx xxx 1944:                Technical Officer, Ministry of Supply.

 1 Sep 1945:                Appointed to a Permanent Commission in the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

 4 Apr 1946:                Attended No 16 War Course, RAF Staff College, Haifa

xx xxx 1947:                U/T pilot, No 28 EFTS.

xx Dec 1947:               Technical Officer, RAE Farnborough attached to the Armament Research Establishment, Fort Halstead.

xx Oct 1949:               Attended/Instructor?, RAF Technical College.

xx May 1950:              Technical Officer, Armament Research Establishment, Fort Halstead.

 1 Aug 1953:               Officer Commanding, Bomber Command Armament School.

xx Dec 1955:               Officer Commanding, Technical Wing, RAF Binbrook.

xx xxx 1957:                Senior RAF Advisor, Atomic Weapons Research Establishment

 1 Jun 1961:                 Representative of the Scientific Adviser to MOD, British Defence Staff, Washington

xx xxx 1964:                Attended Imperial Defence College

 1 Jun 1965:                Assistant Commandant (Technical), RAF College, Cranwell

 4 Jun 1968:                 Director-General of Ground Training

13 Apr 1970:               AOC-in-C, Maintenance Command

 2 Jun 1973:                 Relinquished command of Maintenance Command

Joining the RAFVR following graduation from the University of Wales, he trained as an armaments specialist and spent the next four years in the field of bomb disposal, being awarded the George Cross for this work.  In June 1943, he oversaw the clearance of the bomb dump at RAF Snaith, in which there had been an explosion killing 18 personnel, a task which took ten days.  In October 1943 he moved out to North Africa before joining the Ministry of Supply in late 1944.  A course at the Staff College at Haifa was following by pilot training, both resulting from the award of a permanent commission, after which he was posted to Farnborough but being detached to the Armament Research Establishment.

During his time at Fort Halstead between 1950 and 1953, he oversaw the assembly of the first British atomic bomb and it delivery to the Monte Bello Islands for its test in 1952.  He then took command of the Armament School at Wittering, and was responsible for the introduction of atomic weapons into the RAF, the development of the handling systems, production of manuals and the training of personnel in the handling of these weapons.

A spell at RAF Binbrook, was followed by promotion to Group Captain and a return to the Armament Research Establishment before a move to the USA as the Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Defence at the British Defence Staff in Washington.  On his return he attended the Imperial Defence College and then took up the post of Assistant Commandant (Technical) at the RAF College at Cranwell.  Following his appointment as Director-General of Ground Training, he was appointed AOC-in-C, Maintenance Command, finally retiring in 1973 he took up an administrative post at Queen Mary College, University of London, before being appointed Assistant Principal of Sheffield Polytechnic from 1974 to 1980.

George Cross Citation.

This page was last updated on 28/06/22 using FrontPage 2003

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