Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Vice Marshal S P Simpson

S P Simpson - 1915Sturley Philip                b: 13 Jun 1896                  r: 27 Mar 1947                     d: 28 Apr 1966

CB - 8 Jun 1944, CBE - 1 Jan 1942, MC - 14 May 1926, MiD - 1 Jan 1941, MiD - 2 Jun 1943, WL2 - 6 Sep 1946, CWC - 6 Sep 1946.

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(Army):- 2 Lt: 20 Oct 1915, Lt: 10 Feb 1917, (T) Capt: 23 Apr 1917.

(RAF):- (T) Capt [Lt]: 1 Apr 1918, Flt Lt: 4 Aug 1919 [1 Apr 1918], Sqn Ldr: 1 Jan 1928, Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1935, Gp Capt: 1 Nov 1938, Act A/Cdre: 16 Dec 1941, (T) A/Cdre: 1 Nov 1942, Act AVM: 14 Sep 1943, (T) AVM: 1 Jun 1944, A/Cdre: 1 Dec 1944, AVM: 26 Mar 1947.

xx xxx xxxx:           Attended RMC Sandhurst

20 Oct 1915:           Officer, The Bedfordshire Regiment.

xx Jan 1916:            U/T Pilot, CFS.

19 Feb 1916:           Appointed Flying Officer, RFC.

xx xxx 1916:            Pilot, No 32 Sqn.

28 May 1916:          Embarked for France (by air with No 32 Sqn)

21 Jun 1916:            Wounded

25 Jun 1916:            Admitted to No 1 BRX (Injury - Right Shoulder and head)

29 Jun 1916:            Returned to England on HS 'Stad Antwerpen'

17 Jan 1917:            Re-embarked for France

18 Jan 1917:            Pilot, No 29 Sqn

24 Apr 1917:           Flight Commander, No 29 Sqn.

15 Feb 1917:           Returned to Home Establishment

 5 Mar 1918:            Flight Commander, No 32 Sqn

19 Aug 1918:           Returned to Home Establishment

xx xxx xxxx:             Flight Commander, No 208 Sqn

22 Aug 1919:           To UK on Temporary duty

28 Aug 1919:           Returned to Home Establishment (whilst in UK)

22 Apr 1920:           Staff, Inspectorate of Recruiting.

22 Apr 1920:           Appointed to a Short Service Commission in the rank of Light Lieutenant.

14 Jun 1920:            Staff, School of  PT & Drill.

 2 Oct 1920:            Supernumerary, RAF Depot

 7 Feb 1921:            Instructor/Staff, Ground Wing, RAF Cranwell.

26 Mar 1923:          Instructor/Staff, RAF (Cadet) College, Cranwell

23 Nov 1923:          Officer, No 6 Armoured Car Company.

 4 Feb 1925:            Flight Commander, No 30 Sqn.

 1 Jan 1926:             Appointed to a Permanent Commission in the rank of Flight Lieutenant

14 May 1926:          Supernumerary - non effective (sick), RAF Depot.

14 Jan 1927:            Staff, HQ RAF Cranwell.

25 Jan 1928:            'P' Staff, HQ No 22 Group.

29 Dec 1930:           Officer Commanding, No 4 Sqn. (Atlas I, Audax I)

 4 Oct 1933:            Staff, RAF Cranwell.

 10 Feb 1935:         Administration Staff, No 1 SoTT (Apprentices).

20 Jan 1936:           Officer Commanding, No 2 (Apprentices) Wing, No 1 SoTT (Apprentices).

28 Jul 1938:            Officer Commanding, RAF Thornaby.

16 Dec 1941:          AOC, AHQ Gibraltar.

22 Feb 1944:          AOC, Ho 18 Group.

7 Jan 1947 - 30 Jan 1950:            Commandant, Northolt Aerodrome.

31 Jan 1950 /56:   Divisional Controller, London and South East Division.

He attended Dulwich College from 23 July 1910 to December 1912.  Commissioned into the Bedfordshire Regiment after leaving Sandhurst, he was awarded RAeC Certificate No 2148 on 12 December 1915.

Qualified PT Officer.  He was awarded the MC "in recognition of valuable and distinguished service rendered in connection with operations in Kurdistan during the period July to October 1924" whilst serving with No 6 Armoured Car Company. 

During his tenure as AOC, Gibraltar, he was tasked with ensuring the safe passage of the vessels in connection with 'Torch' landing.  For this he was given extra resources and owing to the efforts of the crews under his command a total of 8,656 flying hours resulted in 142 U-boats being sighted, 83 attacks being made with only one ship being damaged.

Recommendation for the award of Legion of Honour (France)

"SIMPSON, Sturley Phillip, AVM, CBE, MC - Headquarters, No.18 Group

This officer has commanded No.18 Group since February 1944.  Since his command of this Group he has displayed exceptional qualities of leadership and organisation.  With others, Air Vice-Marshal Simpson thought out an intricate plan to deal with the U-Boat threat to the invasion of Normandy and it was this officerís responsibility to stifle the U-Boats as they emerged from their Norwegian bases .  In this No.18 Group was conspicuously successful, and many U-Boats were sunk.  Air Vice-Marshal Simpsonís skilful planning, energy and tactful handling of his squadrons  undoubtedly contributed largely to the ineffectiveness of the U-boat menace to the vast amount of shipping engaged with the invasion forces."

 (Source - Air 2/9141)

 Citation for the award of Companion, Order of the Bath

"SIMPSON, Sturley Philip, Act AVM, CBE, MC - Air Headquarters, Gibraltar.

This officer has been in command at Gibraltar from December 1941 to February 1944.  From the date of his arrival he displayed remarkable qualities of organisation and drive and it was due to his ability and tact with the other Services that the runway at North Front was developed to take large aircraft and that New Camp was built up into a satisfactory flying boat station.  There is no doubt that Air Vice Marshal Simpsonís handling of the situation at Gibraltar, both from an operational and administrative point of view, contributed largely to the success of the North African operations in November 1942.  The squadrons under his command have done extremely well and their success against U-Boats reflects the greatest credit on this officer."

(Source - Air 2/9003)

This page was last updated on 02/09/23©

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