Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Commodore B J Silly

Benjamin James               b: 28 May 1893                                                         d:  7 Dec 1943

MC - 4 Mar 1918, DFC - 21 Sep 1918.

(Army):- (T) 2 Lt (P): 5 Sep 1916, (T) Capt: 29 Nov 1917.

(RAF):- (T) Capt [Lt]: 1 Apr 1918, Act Maj: 20 Sep 1918, Flt Lt: 4 Aug 1919 [1 Apr 1918], Sqn Ldr: 1 Jul 1928, Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1935, Gp Capt: 1 Nov 1938, Act A/Cdre: 18 Feb 1942?

xx xxx 1914:          Private, 2nd (Public Schools) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers

xx xxx xxxx:          Private, 4th (Public Schools) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers

 2 Sep 1916:           Officer, Royal Field Artillery

 5 Sep 1916,           U/T Pilot, RFC

 4 Apr 1917:           Appointed Flying Officer, RFC.

14 Apr 1917:          Embarked for France

15 Apr 1917:          Attached, No 1 AD

28 Apr 1917:          Pilot, No 55 Sqn RFC

29 Nov 1917:         Flight Commander, No 55 Sqn RFC/RAF

20 Sep 1918:          Officer Commanding, No 55 Sqn. (DH4 Independent Force)

xx Jan 1919:

 1 Aug 1919:          Awarded Permanent Commission as a Captain

24 Dec 1919:          Staff/Instructor, School of Technical Training (Boys).

16 Mar 1920:          Staff/Instructor, No 1 School of Technical Training (Boys).

15 Nov 1921:          Attended Instructors' Course, CFS

15 Feb 1922:          Instructor, No 5 FTS.

14 Sep 1923:          Flight Commander, No 55 Sqn.

 8 Oct 1925:           Personnel Staff, HQ RAF Middle East.

22 May 1927:         Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

19 Sep 1927:          Attended RAF Staff College.

?17 Dec 1928:        Staff, HQ Wessex Bombing Area.

15 Jan 1932:           Staff, Superintendent of RAF Reserve.

19 Jul 1933:            Squadron Commander, No 5 Flying Training School

13 Apr - 8 Jun 1934:    Placed on half pay list, scale A

11 Jun 1934:           Air Staff, HQ Iraq Command.

14 Jan 1936:           Attended Imperial Defence College.

 7 Jan 1937:            Staff, Directorate of Organisation.

19 Oct 1938:           Officer Commanding, RAF Pembroke Dock. 

 5 Aug 1939:           Group Captain - ?, HQ RAF Far East.

xx xxx 1940:           SASO, HQ RAF Far East.

18 Feb 1942:           AOC, RAF Base, Batavia. (AHQ Sumatra?)

xx xxx 1942            Prisoner of War

Australian by birth, he began work as a clerk with Thomas Pulman & Co and from 1909 to April 1911 worked in Switzerland.  He was a qualified interpreter in German.

On 5th February 1942, he was sent to Batavia to set up a rear base for the reception of equipment and personnel evacuated from Singapore.  This involved setting up six transit camps and the processing of 12,000 men in an attempt to sort them out and evacuate as many as possible, an incredibly difficult task in view of the chaos.  He died in captivity.

Citation for the award of the Military Cross

T./2nd Lt. (T./Capt.) Benjamin James Silly, Gen. List and R.F.C.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  He has led several successful bomb raids and carried out many long-distance reconnaissances.  By his skill and determination he has invariably set a fine example to his squadron.

(London Gazette 19 August 1918)

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

Lieut. (T./Capt.) Benjamin James Silly, M.C.

For exceptional skill and gallantry on long-distance raids, in 47 of which he has been engaged, and has been the leader on 22 occasions. Within the past month he led a formation of bombers which accomplished their object notwithstanding that the enemy scouts were encountered almost from the start, and at the destination they numbered 40 machines. Capt. Silly's formation destroyed four enemy aircraft, and returned without losing a single machine.

(London Gazette 21 September 1918)

This page was last updated on 03/03/18 using FrontPage 2003

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