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Air Commodore J G Topham (41882)

John Groves                 b: 18 Mar 1917                     r: 20 Aug 1968                     d: 27 Feb 1987

DSO – 19 Mar 1943, OBE – 1 Jan 1952, DFC – 3 Mar 1942, Bar – 14 Jul 1942.

Act Plt Off: 1 Apr 1939, Plt Off: 23 Oct 1939, Fg Off (WS): 23 Oct 1940, Act Flt Lt:  3 Dec 1940, Flt Lt (WS): 23 Oct 1941, Act Wg Cdr: 7 Nov 1942?, Sqn Ldr (WS): 7 May 1943, Sqn Ldr: 26 Mar 1946 [1 Sep 1945], (T) Sqn Ldr: 3 Dec 1946 [1 Jul 1945], Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1952, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1958, Act A/Cdre: 12 Feb 1962, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1965.

 1 Apr 1939:             Appointed to a Short Service Commission.

xx xxx 1939:             U/T Pilot, No 11 FTS.

23 Oct 1939:            Pilot, No 219 Sqn. (Blenheim/Beaufighter)

 3 Dec 1940:            Officer Commanding, 'A' Flight No 219 Sqn

xx xxx 1942:             Instructor, No 54 OTU

23 Jan 1943:            Transferred to RAFO and called up for service

xx Oct 1943:            Officer Commanding, No 125 Sqn. (Beaufighter VIf/Mosquito NFXVII)

xx Dec 1944:            CFI, No 51 OTU.

xx xxx xxxx:              Attended RAF Staff College 

xx xxx xxxx:              Officer Commanding, Fighter Wing, Commonwealth Air Forces of Occupation, Japan.

26 Mar 1946:           Appointed to a Permanent Commission in the rank of Squadron Leader (retaining rank current at the time) [wef 1 Sep 1945]

22 Jun 1948:             Air Staff, Directorate-General of Manning.

xx xxx 1951:             Wing Commander - Flying, RAF Leeming.

xx xxx 1953:             Air Staff - Operations, HQ Far East Air Force.

xx xxx 1956:             Air Staff - HQ No 11 Group.

xx xxx 1958:             Officer Commanding, RAF Waterbeach.

xx xxx xxxx:               Commander, RAF Training Mission to Nigeria.

14 Nov 1960:           Group Captain - Operations, HQ No 12 (Fighter) Group.

25 Jun 1962:             Directing Staff, RAF Staff College.

25 Mar 1964:           AOC/Commandant, College of Air Warfare.

27 Jun 1966:            Commander, HQ RAF Persian Gulf/Air Forces Gulf.

Born in Bradford, he was educated in Manchester and then worked in the local textiles industry.  He became a very successful night fighter pilot during the war, together with his radar operator, Sergeant (later Flight Lieutenant) H W 'Wilber' Berridge. His final tally standing at 13 destroyed (although his DSO citation quotes 14), one probable and one damaged.   He retired at his own request.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

“Acting Squadron Leader John Groves TOPHAM (41882), No.219 Squadron.

This officer has participated in operational flying over a long period.  He is a skilful and keen night fighter pilot and, although he has frequently carried out his sorties in extremely unfavourable flying conditions, he has destroyed 2 Junkers 88's.Squadron Leader Topham has at all times set a worthy example.”

(London Gazette – 3 March 1942)

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

“Acting Squadron Leader John Groves TOPHAM, D.F.C. (41882), No. 219 Squadron.

This officer has performed work of outstanding merit.  A skilful pilot and a fine leader, Squadron Leader Topham has been tireless in his efforts to attain success.  By his personal example he has been largely responsible for the high standard of morale existing in his squadron.  Squadron Leader Topham has destroyed five enemy aircraft during sorties at night.”

(London Gazette – 14 July 1942)

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order

“Acting Wing Commander John Groves TOPHAM, D.F.C. (41882) R.A.F.O., 125 Sqn.

This officer has completed a large number of operational flying hours since being awarded a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross.  His knowledge of all aspects of night fighting tactics is profound and his example of courage and tenacity has impressed all.  Fourteen enemy aircraft have fallen to his guns at night.”

(London Gazette – 1 September 1944)

This page was last updated on 06/01/24

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