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Air Commodore A H Wheeler (05109)

Allen Henry                            b: 27 Sep 1903                        r: 5 May 1955                        d: 1 Jan 1984

CBE 1 Jan 1955, MiD - 1 Jan 1941, MiD - 14 Jan 1944, FRAeS, DFC (Dutch), BA.

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

Plt Off: 17 Jan 1925 [17 Jan 1924], Fg Off: 17 Jul 1925, Flt Lt: 14 May 1930, Sqn Ldr: 1 Apr 1937, (T) Wg Cdr: 1 Mar 1940, (T) Gp Capt: 1 Mar 1942, Act A/Cdre: 24 Oct 1944?, Gp Capt: 1 Oct 1946, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1951.

17 Jan 1925:               Appointed to a Permanent Commission.

17 Jan 1925:               U/T Pilot, No 2 FTS.

15 Dec 1925:              Pilot, No 2 Sqn.

18 Oct 1926:              Pilot No 111 Sqn

30 Jul 1927:                Attended Aircraft Engineering Course, Home Aircraft Depot.

9 Nov 1929:               Engineering Officer, Aircraft Depot, Iraq

18 Oct 1930:              PA to AOC, Iraq Command.

18 Feb 1932:              Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

 8 May 1932:              Engineering Officer/Instructor, Home Aircraft Depot.

30 Sep 1933:              Flight Commander, No 41 Sqn.

18 Sep - 1 Nov 1935:              Attached to No 8 Sqn as OC 'D' Flight.

 1 Nov 1935:              'D' Flight Commander, No 41 Sqn.

 7 Aug 1936:               Engineering Officer?, HQ British Forces in Aden.

24 Jan 1938:               Attended Course No 16, RAF Staff College.

31 Dec 1938:              Air Staff, HQ No 6 (Auxiliary) Group.

 1 Mar 1940:              Officer Commanding, Performance Testing Squadron, A & A E E.

 1 Mar 1942:               Officer Commanding, Experimental Flying Section, RAE Farnborough.

23 Feb 1944:              Officer Commanding, RAF Fairford.

24 Oct 1944:              SASO, HQ Base Air Forces, South East Asia.

xx xxx 1946:               Deputy Director, Auxiliary & Reserve Forces

xx xxx xxxx:                Officer Commanding, Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment

xx xxx 1949:               Officer Commanding, Experimental Flying Section, RAE Farnborough.

xx xxx 1951:               AOC, AHQ Cyprus

xx xxx 1953?:             Commandant, A & A E E, Boscombe Down.

He joined the RAF after having attended Eton (8 May 1917 to 1 April 1921) and Cambridge, where he gained an BA in Engineering.  Much of his WW2 career was spent at Boscombe Down or Farnborough on various testing duties.  After  retiring from the RAF, he remained in the aviation field in a number of roles, including consultant and technical advisor to the film industry, for films such as "The Blue Max" and "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines".  He bought his first aircraft, an SE5A for 25 and later owned two Spitfires, one of which he flew into his 70's.  He also owned a Tiger Moth which he retained until 1983 and an Auster, which he finally disposed of in September 1983.   He flew over 400 different types of aircraft ranging from WW1 biplanes to supersonic jets.

He was an Assessor on the Comet inquiry 1954, Aviation Consultant and advisor to the Air Registration Board and a Trustee of Shuttleworth Trust since 1943. 

Citation for the award of Officer of Order of the British Empire

"WHEELER, Alan Henry, Act /A/Cdre (05109, Royal Air Force) - Station Fairford.

This officer is Station Commander at Fairford.  He was faced with a very difficult task in the preparation for the landings in Normandy on D Day.  He took over a new and unfinished station in February and had to weld into an efficient fighting machine a depleted squadron transferred from Bomber Command and a squadron just commencing to form.  Group Captain Wheeler not only brought both squadrons up to a high state of efficiency but also organized the station to deal with the despatch of a large number of gliders in a minimum period of time.  Throughout his service in the Group, he has displayed drive, initiative and leadership which he has used to the greatest advantage.  He has set an excellent example by himself participating in operations."

(Source - Air 2/8872 drafted when he was a Group Captain)

Recommendation for the award of Commander of Order of the British Empire

"WHEELER, Allen Henry, G/C (Royal Air Force) - Experimental Section, Royal Aircraft Establishment

This officer commands the Experimental Flying Section.  He has done valuable work in improving the cooperation between the Establishment and the Services and in promoting a more intimate and effective relationship between his pilots and the civilian employees of all grades in the Establishment.  He has greatly improved the flying organisation since he came.  Group Captain Wheeler has shown resource and initiative in developing the resources of the air field and in planning for the future.  He has taken an active part in experimental flying and his wide experience has been of great value, especially in solving the more difficult problems."

(Source - Air 2/9003 intended for the June 1944 Birthday Honours List.  Not approved and no other award found for that period (though he had been Mentioned in Despatches, 14 January 1944 and would receive the CBE on 1 January 1955); transcribed for the historical record)

This page was last updated on 16/09/23

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