Andrew Humphrey

Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Andrew Henry Humphrey, GCB, OBE, DFC, AFC & Two Bars (10 January 1921 – 24 January 1977) was a senior officer in the Royal Air Force. He fought in the Second World War as a fighter pilot taking part in the Battle of Britain and also took part in the withdrawal from Aden in November 1967. He served as the Chief of the Air Staff advising the new Labour Government on the implementation of their latest Defence Review. He then served as Chief of the Defence Staff but caught pneumonia within three months of taking office and died shortly afterwards.

Sir Andrew Humphrey
Andrew Humphrey in 1965.jpg
Humphrey in 1965
Born(1921-01-10)10 January 1921
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died24 January 1977(1977-01-24) (aged 56)
RAF Halton, Buckinghamshire, England
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Air Force
Years of service1939–77
RankMarshal of the Royal Air Force
Commands heldChief of the Defence Staff (1976–77)
Chief of the Air Staff (1974–76)
RAF Strike Command (1971–74)
Air Member for Personnel (1968–71)
Air Forces Middle East (1965–67)
RAF Akrotiri (1959–62)
Battles/warsSecond World War
Aden Emergency
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Force Cross & Two Bars
Mentioned in Despatches

Early lifeEdit

The son of John Humphrey CBE and his wife, Agnes Florence Humphrey (née Beatson-Bell), Humphrey was born on 10 January 1921 in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. He was educated at Belhaven Hill School in Dunbar and Bradfield College.[1]

RAF careerEdit

Humphrey joined the Royal Air Force College Cranwell in January 1939[2] and was granted a permanent commission as a pilot officer on 30 April 1940.[3] Following flying training he was posted as a pilot to No. 266 Squadron at RAF Wittering in September 1940 and found himself flying Spitfires in the Battle of Britain.[2] In March 1941 he was involved in an incident when his engine failed and his Spitfire crashed in flames, but he survived.[4] He was promoted to the war substantive rank of flying officer on 1 May 1941.[5] On a single night in May 1941, he shot down one bomber and two other enemy aircraft near the Dutch coast: he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for this on 30 May 1941.[6]

 
Hawker Hurricane, a type flown by Humphrey during the Second World War

Humphrey transferred to No. 452 Squadron, flying Spitfires from RAF Kenley in July 1941, before becoming an instructor at No. 58 Operational Training Unit at RAF Grangemouth in August 1941.[2] He became a Flight Commander with No. 175 Squadron flying Hurricanes from RAF Warmwell in March 1942[2] and was promoted to the war substantive rank of flight lieutenant on 1 May 1942[7] before returning to RAF Grangemouth in July 1942.[2] Awarded the Air Force Cross on 1 January 1943,[8] he attended the Low Attack Instructor's School at RAF Milfield in early 1943.[2] He became a Flight Commander with No. 6 Squadron, flying Hurricanes in North Africa in July 1943,[2] and was promoted to flight lieutenant on a permanent basis on 7 September 1943.[9] He became an instructor at No. 5 Middle East Training School at RAF Shallufa in Egypt in January 1944 before being posted to the staff at RAF Nicosia in Cyprus in June 1944 and then to the staff at RAF Ranchi in India in November 1944.[2] He was awarded a Bar to the Air Force Cross on 1 January 1945,[10] and promoted to the war substantive rank of squadron leader on 20 February 1945.[11]

At the end of the War, Humphrey joined the Air Staff at Headquarters British Air Forces South East Asia, before transferring to the Air Staff at Headquarters No. 106 Group at RAF Benson, where he learnt the art of photographic reconnaissance, in August 1946.[12] He was confirmed in the rank of squadron leader on a permanent basis on 1 August 1947.[13] He became a Flight Commander with No. 82 Squadron flying Lancasters and Dakotas in an aerial mapping role in Africa in September 1948[12] and went on to be an instructor at the RAF Flying College at Manby in May 1951.[2] Having been appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 1951 New Year Honours[14] and promoted to wing commander on 1 July 1951,[15] he became a senior instructor there in February 1953.[2] In December 1953, Humphrey piloted "Aries IV", a Canberra B.2, from Cape Town to London in a then record 13 hours 16 minutes and 25 seconds.[16]

 
Humphrey (centre) with his two navigators after the flight from Cape Town to London

Humphrey attended RAF Staff College in 1955 and was awarded a second Bar to his Air Force Cross in the 1955 Birthday Honours.[17] He was posted to the Directorate of Operational Requirements at the Air Ministry in February 1956 where he was elevated to Deputy Director before being promoted to group captain on 1 July 1957[18] and appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in the 1959 Birthday Honours.[19]

Humphrey became Officer Commanding RAF Akrotiri in February 1959 and then attended the Imperial Defence College in 1962[2] before being promoted to air commodore on 1 July 1962.[20] He became Director of Joint Plans at the Air Ministry in November 1962 and then Director of Defence Plans (Air) at the Ministry of Defence in April 1964[2] Promoted to air vice marshal on 1 January 1965,[21] he became Air Officer Commanding Air Forces Middle East on 15 December 1965[22] and, following the withdrawal from Aden in November 1967,[16] he was mentioned in despatches for his services in operations there on 23 January 1968.[23] He went on to be Air Member for Personnel with the acting rank of air marshal on 18 March 1968[24] and advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 1968 Birthday Honours.[25]

Having been promoted to the substantive rank of air marshal on 1 January 1969,[26] and to air chief marshal on 1 December 1970,[27] Humphrey became Commander-in-Chief RAF Strike Command on 5 January 1971.[28] He was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the 1974 New Year Honours.[29]

Humphrey was appointed Air Aide-de-Camp to the Queen on 31 March 1974 and Chief of the Air Staff on 1 April 1974.[30] As Chief of the Air Staff he advised the new Labour Government on the implementation of their latest Defence Review.[31] Following promotion to Marshal of the Royal Air Force on 6 August 1976,[32] Humphrey was appointed Chief of the Defence Staff on 24 October 1976.[33] However he only served in that role for only three months before catching pneumonia following a visit to British forces in Norway during a particularly cold Winter.[34] He died in the RAF Hospital at Halton on 24 January 1977.[2]

Personal lifeEdit

In March 1952 Humphrey married Agnes Stevenson Wright; there were no children.[1] In 1978 his widow, Lady Humphrey, visited RAF Gütersloh in the then West Germany to open the newly built Andrew Humphrey School in the village of Blankenhagen, a primary school for the children of RAF personnel.[35]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Marshal of the RAF Sir Andrew Humphrey". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Andrew Humphrey". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  3. ^ "No. 34854". The London Gazette. 21 May 1940. p. 3033.
  4. ^ Probert, p. 75
  5. ^ "No. 35196". The London Gazette. 20 June 1941. p. 3517.
  6. ^ "No. 35176". The London Gazette. 30 May 1941. p. 3096.
  7. ^ "No. 35606". The London Gazette. 23 June 1942. p. 2760.
  8. ^ "No. 35841". The London Gazette. 29 December 1942. p. 34.
  9. ^ "No. 37571". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 May 1946. p. 2396.
  10. ^ "No. 36866". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1944. p. 58.
  11. ^ "No. 37153". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 June 1945. p. 3397.
  12. ^ a b Probert, p. 76
  13. ^ "No. 38035". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 August 1947. p. 3663.
  14. ^ "No. 39104". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1950. p. 9.
  15. ^ "No. 39271". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 June 1951. p. 3544.
  16. ^ a b Probert, p. 77
  17. ^ "No. 40497". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 June 1955. p. 3292.
  18. ^ "No. 41111". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 June 1957. p. 3859.
  19. ^ "No. 41727". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 June 1959. p. 3699.
  20. ^ "No. 42721". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 June 1962. p. 5299.
  21. ^ "No. 43537". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1964. p. 79.
  22. ^ "No. 43838". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 December 1965. p. 11687.
  23. ^ "No. 44508". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 January 1968. p. 886.
  24. ^ "No. 44549". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 March 1968. p. 3250.
  25. ^ "No. 44600". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 May 1968. p. 6301.
  26. ^ "No. 44760". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 January 1969. p. 203.
  27. ^ "No. 45240". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 November 1970. p. 13115.
  28. ^ "No. 45271". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1971. p. 126.
  29. ^ "No. 46162". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 1973. p. 3.
  30. ^ "No. 46252". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 April 1974. p. 4287.
  31. ^ Probert, p. 78
  32. ^ "No. 46984". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 August 1976. p. 10916.
  33. ^ "No. 47050". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 October 1976. p. 14421.
  34. ^ Probert, p. 79
  35. ^ "Our History". Blankenhagen School. Archived from the original on 19 October 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2012.

SourcesEdit

  • Probert, Henry (1991). High Commanders of the Royal Air Force. HMSO. ISBN 0-11-772635-4.
Military offices
Preceded by
Johnnie Johnson
Air Officer Commanding Air Forces Middle East
1965–1967
Absorbed into Air Forces Gulf
Preceded by
Sir David Lee
Air Member for Personnel
1968–1970
Succeeded by
Sir Lewis Hodges
Preceded by
Sir Denis Spotswood
Commander-in-Chief RAF Strike Command
1971–1974
Succeeded by
Sir Denis Smallwood
Chief of the Air Staff
1974–1976
Succeeded by
Sir Neil Cameron
Preceded by
Sir Michael Carver
Chief of the Defence Staff
1976–1977
Succeeded by
Sir Edward Ashmore