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Air Vice Marshal W E Staton (04225)

William Ernest              b: 27 Aug 1898                 r: 12 Nov 1952                    d: 22 Jul 1983

CB - 1 Jan 1947, DSO - 20 Feb 1940, Bar - 7 Jul 1940, MC - 22 Jun 1918, DFC - 21 Sep 1918, Bar - 3 Dec 1918, MiD - 20 Feb 1940, MiD - 1 Oct 1946.

(Army):- (T) 2 Lt (P): 4 May 1917, 2 Lt: 21 Sep 1917.

(RAF):- Lt: 1 Apr 1918, Capt: 18 May 1918, Fg Off: 1 Aug 1919?, Flt Lt: 1 Jan 1925, Sqn Ldr: 1 Feb 1935, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1938, (T) Gp Capt: 1 Dec 1940, Act A/Cdre: 31 Dec 1941, Gp Capt (WS): 5 Jul 1942, (T) A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1946, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1946, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1947, Act AVM: 5 Apr 1949, AVM: 1 Jul 1950.

xx xxx xxxx:           Soldier, Artists Rifles

xx xxx xxxx:             Cadet, RFC

21 Sep 1917:           Flying Officer, RFC.

xx xxx 1918:            Pilot, No 62 Sqn RFC/RAF

18 May 1918:          Flight Commander, No 62 Sqn.

 1 Aug 1919:           Awarded Permanent Commission as a Lieutenant

12 Jan 1920:            Pilot, No 20 Sqn.

30 Apr 1922:           Supernumerary - non effective (sick), RAF Depot.

16 Sep 1922:           Pilot, M.A.E.E.

11 May 1927:          Staff, RAF Base, Calshot.

18 Sep 1928:           Attended Course at RAF Base, Calshot.

 6 Mar 1929:           Staff/Instructor?, RAF Base, Calshot.


17 Jan 1931:           Pilot, No 205 Sqn (arrived 18 Feb 1931).

 2 Jan - 19 Feb 1934:           Officer Commanding (Temporary), No 205 Sqn

28 Feb 1934:          Embarked on HT Neuralia on posting to Home Establishment

28 Feb 1934:          Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

18 Jun 1934:           Adjutant, No 501 (County of Gloucester) Sqn Aux AF.

15 Feb 1935:          Personnel Staff, HQ Inland Area.

20 Apr 1935:          CFI, No 3 FTS.

30 May 1938:         Flight Commander/Conversion Training?, No 76 Sqn. (Whitley)

 9 Jun 1938:            Officer Commanding, No 10 Sqn. (Whitleys)

 4 Apr - xx xxx 1940:           Officer Commanding, RAF Dishforth (Temporary)

10 Jul 1940:            Supernumerary, RAF Leeming.

12 Jul 1940:            Officer Commanding, RAF Leeming.

 1 Dec 1940:          Appointed ADC to the King.

13 Mar 1941:         Detached on Special Duty

 5 Jan 1942:            SASO, HQ RAF Far East.

10 Feb 1942:          SASO, Westgroup, Java.

10 Mar 1942:           Prisoner of War.

 1 Nov 1945:           AOC, No 46 (Transport) Group.

xx xxx 1947:            Commandant, Central Bomber Establishment, RAF Marham.

 5 Apr 1949:            AOA, HQ Technical Training Command.

‘Bull’ Staton was a flamboyant character, he even sported a scar on his head acquired when he was hit by a chair during a mess party.  Following flying training he was posted to No 62 Squadron flying Bristol Fighters.  He soon started to make a name for himself and between March 1918 and September 1918, when he was wounded, he achieved a total score of 26 enemy aircraft.  Flying his Bristol Fighter on 1 April 1918, he forced a German aircraft down out of control, thereby claiming one of the RAF's first ever aerial victories.

When he joined No 10 Squadron, he soon acquired the nickname 'King Kong', owing to his size.  Flying on the early operations of Bomber Command in WW2, he soon realised that bombing accuracy was well below the desired level and attempted to improve the results of his squadron by marking targets with flares and Very lights.  This experience led to him suggesting the formation of a specialist target marking force, which would eventually produce the Pathfinder Force (later No 8 Group).

However, before he could witness the acceptance of his scheme, he was posted to the Far East, arriving a few months before the Japanese invasion of Malaya.  Following a hard fight, he, along with many other RAF personnel was forced to surrender in Java, spending the remainder of the war in captivity, showing great courage in standing up to the extreme cruelty of his captors.  Although promised protection under the terms of the Geneva Convention, Staton along with Group Captain Bishop was imprisoned for a month shortly after capture  for simply refusing to answer questions under interrogation.  The Japanese later removed is teeth for refusing to co-operate.  He was later mentioned in despatches for his service whilst a Prisoner of War.

He was always interested in shooting and was Captain of the 1948 and 1952 British Olympic Shooting Teams as well as Chairman of the RAF Small Arms Association from 1947 until 1952.  He was also a member and official of a wide range of shooting bodies.  He retired at his own request in order to facilitate the promotion of younger officers.

Citation for the award of the Military Cross

"T./2nd Lt. William Ernest Staton, Gen. List and R.F.C.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. On one occasion, when on offensive patrol, he, by the skilful handling of his machine and accurate shooting destroyed two enemy aeroplanes and brought down a third out of control. In addition, during the nine days previous to this, he had destroyed five other enemy machines, two of these being triplanes.  The services which he has rendered » have been exceptionally brilliant, and his skill and determination are deserving of the highest praise."

(London Gazette - 22 June 1918)

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

Lieut. (T./Capt.) William Ernest Staton, M.C.

This officer has already been awarded the Military Cross for gallantry and devotion to duty. Since this award he has accounted for eleven enemy aeroplanes - nine destroyed and two shot down out of control. He has proved "himself a most efficient flight commander -and an enterprising leader, setting a very fine example to his squadron.

(London Gazette – 21 September 1918)

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

“Lieut. (A./Capt.) William Ernest Staton, M.C., D.F.C. (FRANCE)

This officer has already been awarded the Military Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Since his last award he has destroyed five enemy machines and driven down one out of control. His example of  courage and resource is a fine incentive to the other pilots of his squadron.

(M.C. gazetted 22nd June, 1918.)

(D.F.C. gazetted 21st September, 1918.)”

(London Gazette – 3 December 1918)


Citation for the award of the Bar to the Distinguished Service Order

 "Wing Commander William Ernest STATON, D.S.O., M.C., D.F.C. (04225).

This officer has continued to display outstanding gallantry and leadership in recent air operations.  One night in May, 1940, he led an attack on the oil depot at Bremen. The target was very heavily defended and difficult to identify owing to the exceptional number of searchlights but, after worrying and misleading the defences for an hour, he dived and attacked from 1,000 feet to ensure hitting the target. His aircraft was hit by six shells, the last one of which did considerable damage but he succeeded in reaching his home base.  Wing Commander Staton organises and leads his squadron on all new tasks with constant courage and his work on his station is magnificent."

(London Gazette – 7 Jun 1940)

This page was last updated on 27/10/21

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