Colin McMullen

Air Commodore Colin Campbell McMullen, CBE, AFC (27 August 1908 – 17 February 1954), commonly referred to as C.C. McMullen, was an Australian-born Royal Air Force (RAF) officer. McMullen was educated in Sydney, and commissioned as an officer in the RAF after moving to the United Kingdom in 1931. During World War II he commanded two flying squadrons, as well as an air station. He continued to serve after the war and was appointed to command a group shortly before his death in 1954.

Colin C. McMullen
Group Captain Collin McMullen in 1945.JPG
Group Captain C.C. McMullen in March 1945
Born(1908-08-27)27 August 1908
Summer Hill, New South Wales, Australia
Died17 February 1954(1954-02-17) (aged 45)
Hungerford, United Kingdom
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Air Force
Years of service1931–54
RankAir Commodore
Commands heldNo. 81 Group (1954)
RAF Bardney (c. 1944)
No. 109 Squadron (c. 1941)
No. 79 Squadron (1939–40)
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsCommander of the Order of the British Empire
Air Force Cross
Mentioned in Despatches (2)

Early lifeEdit

McMullen was born in Summer Hill, New South Wales, on 27 August 1908,[1] the son of Frank and Blanche MacMullen,[2] and was educated at Fort Street High School before completing a degree in veterinary studies at the University of Sydney.[3][4][5] A well-known rugby union player, he was a member of the University and Drummoyne teams.[6] He was also a member of an air cadet unit located at Royal Australian Air Force Station Richmond.[6]

RAF careerEdit

McMullen moved from Australia to the United Kingdom in 1931 to continue flight training, and received a temporary commission as an officer in the Royal Air Force (RAF) shortly afterwards. This commission was later made permanent.[3] He placed first in a flying course conducted at RAF Station Grantham in early 1932, and was later trained to operate combat aircraft at RAF Tangmere.[6] On 1 March 1933 a fighter aircraft he was piloting collided with another RAF plane. McMullen escaped with only minor injuries after successfully making an emergency landing, but the pilot of the other aircraft was killed.[7]

In January 1939 McMullen was appointed commander of a fighter unit, No. 79 Squadron, and led it following the outbreak of World War II until February 1940.[8] In July 1940 he was mentioned in despatches for "meritorious service with the RAF".[5] In December 1941 McMullen assumed command of No. 109 Squadron, a unit responsible for the development of new technologies.[9][10] McMullen was responsible for encouraging Don Bennett to try the de Havilland Mosquito, which proved crucial for the effective use of the Oboe target finding device.[11]

McMullen was promoted acting wing commander on 11 March 1943,[12] and awarded an Air Force Cross in the 1943 New Year Honours.[13] McMullen was raised to temporary group captain on 21 January 1944.[14] As the commanding officer of RAF Bardney he led the deployment of two squadrons of Avro Lancaster bombers to the Soviet Union in September that year during Operation Paravane, an attack on the German battleship Tirpitz in northern Norway. He also led the deployment of these squadrons to Scotland during the two subsequent attacks on the Tirpitz, Operation Obviate in October and Operation Catechism in November.[15] McMullen was mentioned in despatches again on 1 January 1945.[16] On 1 January 1946 he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).[17]

McMullen was permanently promoted to the rank of group captain on 22 July 1947.[18] He was raised to air commodore in January 1954,[19] and appointed the commanding officer of No. 81 Group. On 17 February that year he collapsed at Hungerford while driving and subsequently died.[3]


  1. ^ "A9300, McMullen C C". National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  2. ^ "Birth Search Results – Certificate 32788/1908". New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Death of Air Commodore". The Sydney Morning Herald. 20 February 1954. p. 3. Retrieved 21 August 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ Ellison, Norman (22 March 1933). "In the Air". The Referee. p. 21. Retrieved 21 August 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ a b "Australian Mentioned in Dispatches". Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate. 12 July 1940. p. 10. Retrieved 21 August 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ a b c "Top Place. Australian in Air Examination". The Sun. 23 March 1932. p. 17 (last race edition). Retrieved 21 August 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ "Sydney Pilot Has Lucky Escape In Aerial Collision". The Advertiser. Adelaide. 3 March 1933. p. 21. Retrieved 21 August 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ Holmes, Tony (2015). American Eagles: US Fighter Pilots in the RAF 1939–1945: Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives. Barnsley, United Kingdom: Pen and Sword. p. 14. ISBN 1473866545.
  9. ^ Cumming, Michael (1998). Beam Bombers: The Secret War of No. 109 Squadron. Brimscombe and Thrupp, United Kingdom: Sutton Publishing. pp. 57, 82. ISBN 0750919981.
  10. ^ "109 Squadron". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Bennett, Donald Clifford Tyndall, (Oral history)". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  12. ^ "No. 35102". The London Gazette. 11 March 1941. p. 1449.
  13. ^ "New Year Honours" (PDF). Flight. 14 January 1943. p. 38. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  14. ^ "No. 36340". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 January 1944. p. 403.
  15. ^ Flower, Stephen (2013). The Dam Busters: An Operational History of Barnes Wallis' Bombs. Stroud, United Kingdom: Amberley Publishing. ISBN 9781445618289.
  16. ^ "No. 36866". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1945. p. 61.
  17. ^ "No. 37407". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1946. p. 33.
  18. ^ "No. 38020". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 July 1947. p. 3417.
  19. ^ "Half-yearly Promotions" (PDF). Flight. 8 January 1954. p. 56. Retrieved 21 August 2016.