Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Commodore J A Sowrey (33551)

John Adam                   b: 5 Jan 1920               r: 18 Jun 1968        d: 30 Nov 2010

DFC – 17 Apr 1945, AFC – 9 Jun 1955, QCVSA – 1 Jan 1955, AFRAeS.

Plt Off (P): 7 Mar 1940, Plt Off: 7 Mar 1941, Fg Off (WS): 7 Mar 1941, Flt Lt (WS): 7 Mar 1942, Act Sqn Ldr: xx xxx xxxx, Flt Lt: 21 May 1946 [7 Sep 1943],Sqn Ldr: 1 Aug 1947, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1955, Act Gp Capt: 29 Dec 1960, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1961, Act A/Cdre: 6 Sep 1963 - 1965, A/Cdre: Retained.

27 Apr 1939:     Flight Cadet, 'C' Sqn, RAF College.

 7 Mar 1940:     Attended No 2 School of Army Co-operation, RAF Andover

7 May 1940:     Attached, 'A' Flight, No 613 Sqn.

21 Jan 1941:     Attended No 56 OTU.

 3 Mar 1941:     Pilot, No 17 Sqn

17 Apr 1941:     Pilot, No 213 Sqn

xx xxx 1941:      Pilot, No 80 Sqn

xx xxx 1941:     Attached to No 73 Sqn

xx xxx 1942:     Flight Commander, No 80 Sqn.

xx xxx 1943:     Instructor, No 71 OTU.

xx xxx 1943:     Attended CFS, Salisbury.

xx Nov 1943:   Flight Commander, No 336 (Greek) Sqn

xx Jun 1944:     Supernumerary Sqn Ldr, No 131 Sqn

8 Dec 1944:     Training Staff, HQ Fighter Command. (Sqn Ldr)

25 Aug 1947:   Air Staff, HQ, No 65 Group

xx xxx xxxx:      Adjutant, No 603 Sqn RAuxAF

xx xxx 1951:     Attended Empire Test Pilots School

xx xxx xxxx:      Test Pilot, RAE

xx xxx xxxx:      Test Pilot, ‘A’ Sqn, A & AEE, RAF Boscombe Down.

xx xxx 1955:     Wing Commander – Flying, RAF Wattisham.

12 May 1958:  Staff officer - Tactical Operations, HQ Allied Air Forces Northern Europe.

29 Dec 1960:   Officer Commanding, RAF North Luffenham.

xx xxx xxxx:      Attended Joint Services Staff College.

 6 Sep 1963:    Air Adviser to UK High Commissioner to India.

16 Nov 1965:   Deputy Director of Organisation (Establishments).

The son of an RFC pilot, one of his uncle's claimed the destruction of a Zeppelin and 12 other victories in WW1 whilst another uncle became Air Commodore J Sowrey and his cousin became Air Marshal Sir Frederick Sowrey.  He undertook an accelerated course at Cranwell on a King's Cadetship and on graduating was posted to No 613 Squadron flying Lysanders.  At the end of 1940 he attended No 55 OTU to train as a fighter pilot and was then posted to No 17 Squadron.  However, he was soon sent to the Middle East, where he joined No 80 Squadron in Syria.   He was then sent to join No 213 Squadron in Cyprus, which had just arrived from the UK but almost immediately he was sent to Egypt and attached to No 73 Squadron, with whom he made his first claims.  He re-joined No 213 Squadron and made further claims before being posted to No 80 Squadron as a flight commander.  His final total was five confirmed and two shared with one damaged.

As a test pilot, he tested aircraft such as the Hawker Hunter, Supermarine Swift, Folland Gnat and the Gloster Javelin.  He was awarded the AFC for successfully recovering the, then, only prototype Javelin to Boscombe Down after it suffered a hydraulic failure during a test flight over the Welsh Mountains.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

“Acting Squadron Leader John Adam SOWREY (33551), R.A.F., 131 Sqn.

This officer is a skilful and resolute fighter. He has participated in a very large number of sorties, including many attacks on enemy airfields and lines of supply. In air fighting, he has destroyed 5 enemy aircraft. Squadron Leader Sowrey has invariably displayed a high degree, of courage and, throughout a long period of operational flying, his devotion to duty has been unfailing.”

(London Gazette – 17 April 1945)

This page was last updated on 27/12/23

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