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Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Saunders

Sir Hugh William Lumsden SaundersHugh William Lumsden         b: 24 Aug 1894              r: 22 Sep 1953                  d: 8 May 1987

GCB - 1 June 1953 (KCB - 2 Jan 1950, CB - 2 Jun 1943), KBE - 14 Jun 1945 (CBE - 1 Jul 1941), MC - 16 Sep 1918, DFC2 Nov 1918, Bar - 28 Oct 1921, MM - 12 Mar 1917, MiD – 1 Jan 1945, PR2 - 12 Jun 1945, LoM (Cdr) - 20 Apr 1948, LoH, O - xx xxx 194?, OD (GC) - 20 Nov 1956.

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(Army):- 3AM: 11 May 1917, (T) 2 Lt: 2 Aug 1917, 2 Lt: 19 Oct 1917

(RAF):- Lt: 1 Apr 1918, Act Capt: 25 May 1918, Fg Off: 1 Aug 1919, Flt Lt: 1 Jan 1921, Sqn Ldr: 29 May 1929, Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1936, Act Gp Capt(pd): 25 Feb 1939, Gp Capt: 1 Apr 1939, (T) A/Cdre: 1 Mar 1941, Act AVM: 17 Feb 1942, A/Cdre: 14 Apr 1942 [1 Mar 1941], (T) AVM: 1 Dec 1942, AVM: 1 Jan 1946, Act AM (pd): 1 Aug 1945 - 1 Apr 1946, Act AM: 1 Apr 1946, AM: 1 Jul 1947, ACM: 15 May 1950.

Sir Hugh William Lumsden Saunders

by Walter Stoneman
bromide print, September 1943
NPG x169202

© National Portrait Gallery, London

xx Aug 1914:          Soldier, 10th Infantry, Witwatersrand Rifles

xx xxx xxxx:          Soldier, South African Rifles.

11 May 1917:          U/T Pilot, No 2 Cadet Wing  RFC.

19 Oct  1917:          Appointed Flying Officer,

28 Nov 1917:          Embarked for France

29 Nov 1917:          Attached, No 2 ASD

 1 Dec 1917:           Pilot, No 84 Sqn RFC.

13-18 Jan 1918:     Temporary duty at No 2 ASD

25 May 1918:          Flight Commander, No 84 Sqn.

26 Jul 1918:           Officer Commanding (Temporary), No 84 Sqn.

 6 Aug 1918:           Returned to Home Establishment

 1 Aug 1919:           Awarded Permanent Commission as a Lieutenant

xx xxx 1920:            Awaiting disposal, HQ Middle East Area.

 2 May 1920:           Pilot, No 84 Sqn.

17 Jul 1924:             Air Staff - T 3, Directorate of Training.

30 Dec 1928:           Attended RAF Staff College.

14 Dec 1929:           Air Staff, HQ ADGB.

 8 Jan 1932:             Officer Commanding (designate?), No 45 Sqn.

13 Feb 1932:           Officer Commanding, No 45 Sqn.

11 Nov 1935:          Air Staff, Directorate of Training 

18 Jan 1938:            Attended Imperial Defence College. (He was originally due to attend the 1937 course)

25 Feb 1939:           Chief of Staff, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

17 Feb 1942:           AOA, HQ Fighter Command.

28 Nov 1942:          AOC, No 11 Group - Fighter Command/ADGB.

 1 Nov 1944:           Director-General of Personnel (II) .

 1 Aug 1945:           Air Marshal Commanding, RAF Burma.

16 Jan 1947:            AOC in C, Bomber Command.

 1 Oct 1947:            Air Member for Personnel.

31 Oct 1949:           Inspector-General of the RAF.

 8 Feb 1951:            C in C, HQ Air Forces Western Europe

 1 Apr 1951:            Air Deputy to Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

A South African, he served until 1917 with the Witwatersrand Rifles and the South African Horse as a private soldier, winning the MM, before transferring to the RFC.  Completing his flying training he was posted to fly SE5A's with No 84 Squadron during the German offensive of March 1918 when their aircraft were fitted with bombs as well as machines guns.  They operated throughout the day in pairs harrying the Germans at any and every opportunity.  By the time he left 84 in August 1918 he had been credited with 15 victories and was the senior flight commander on the squadron.

He was a representative of the RAF at the funeral of King George VI.  Retiring from the RAF in 1953 he took up an appointment as Special Air Adviser to the Royal Danish Air Force from 1954 to 1956.  This was followed by the post of Chief Co-ordinator of Anglo-American hospitality activities in the UK until 1959.  From 1956  until 1970 he was also a Vice-Chairman of the National Savings Committee.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

“Lieut. (T./Capt.)Hugh William Lumsden Saunders, M,C., M.M.

An .officer of exceptional courage, who, since he was awarded the M.C., has destroyed five enemy aircraft and shot down two balloons in flames.  While on patrol he observed a formation of seven hostile scouts below him.  Diving to attack he engaged the leader and firing shoot bursts at close range shot him down nose foremost; the remainder of the formation scattered in all directions.

(M.C. gazetted 16th September,1918.)”

(London Gazette – 2 November 1918)

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

"Flying Officer Hugh William Lumsden Saunders, M.C, D.F.C., M.M., R.A.F.

For gallantry and unflinching example on all occasions, especially during the operations around Samawalh, where he descended to very low altitudes, to drop food and supplies on the garrison, at Saznawahi and the gunboat "Greenfly." This officer's machine has been put out of action by hostile fire on several occasions.

(D.F.O. gazetted 2nd, November, 1918.)"

(London Gazette - 28 October 1921)

Recommendation for the award of Legion of Honour (France)

"SAUNDERS, Hugh William Lumsden, A/V/M, CB, CBE, MC - Headquarters, No.11 Group

As Air Officer Commanding, No.11 Group, this officer was responsible for the organization, training and development of the fighter technique of the majority of our fighter forces at home prior to the air offensive against the continent.  When the operation was launched the Fighter Command control organisation of No.11 Group, supervised by Air Vice-Marshal Saunders, controlled the vast and complex organization of the entire air forces engaged in the operation.  This force constituted the largest Air Force ever placed under one control.  Due to Air Vice-Marshal Saunders’ initiative and drive, the control organisation worked smoothly and with precision thereby contributing in a large measure to the excellent results of the operation."

(Source - Air 2/9141 )

This page was last updated on 27/08/23

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