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Air Vice-Marshal A G Dudgeon (33240)


Antony Greville             b: 6 Feb 1916                     r: 6 Apr 1968                d: 5 Jan 2004

CBE – 1 Jan 1955, DFC - 1941, MiD - 14 Jan 1944, MBIM

Plt Off: 14 Dec 1935, Fg Off: 14 Jun 1937, Act Flt Lt: 28 Nov 1938, Flt Lt: 14 Jun 1939, Sqn Ldr: 1 Sep 1940, Act Wg Cdr: xx xxx xxxx, (T) Wg Cdr: 1 Mar 1942, Sqn Ldr: 14 Apr 1942 [1 Sep 1940], Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1947, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1952, Act A/Cdre: 6 Feb 1960, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1962, Act AVM: 30 Aug 1965, AVM: Retained.

xx xxx 1934:            Flight Cadet, 'C' Sqn, RAF College.

14 Dec 1935:           Pilot, No 111 Sqn.

18 Mar 1936:           Pilot, No 11 Sqn.

28 Nov 1938:           Flight Commander, No 11 Sqn?

 7 Aug 1940:            Flight Commander, No 45 Sqn.

 8 Oct 1940:            Officer Commanding, No 55 Sqn.

xx xxx 1941:            Instructor/OC, 'B' Flight, No 4 FTS, RAF Habbaniya, Iraq

11 Jul 1941:             Air Staff, HQ RAF Middle East.

 1 Dec 1941:            Air Staff, AHQ Egypt.

21 May 1942:          SASO, No 216 Group.

xx xxx xxxx:            Officer Commanding, No 3 Aircraft Despatch Centre?, Fez, Morocco.

 

 7 Aug 1943:            Traffic Staff, HQ Transport Command

20 Jan 1945:            Air Staff, HQ No 46 (Transport) Group

xx xxx 1946:            Attended RAF Staff College.

1947:                       Officer Commanding, RAF ? - Singapore

24 Nov 1947:          Senior Personnel Staff Officer, AHQ Malaya.

xx xxx xxxx:             Personnel Staff, Air Ministry.

xx xxx 1953:            Officer Commanding, RAF Benson

xx xxx xxxx:              Attended RAF Flying College

xx Dec 1955:           Officer Commanding, RAF Bruggen

xx xxx xxxx:

 6 Feb 1960:            Air Staff - Cadets/AOC & Commandant ATC

14 Sep 1962:           Director of RAF Flight Safety

30 Aug 1965:           Chief of Staff, British Joint Services Mission - Washington.

Born in Egypt where his father was a doctor in a lunatic asylum (he later became the head of the Egypt's mental health organisation), he was able to speak the local language as well as his 'native' English, which would be useful to him later in life.  Sent to England for his education, he attended Eton and had every intention of becoming a doctor himself but having sent both of his sons to Eton, his father had almost bankrupt himself.  Therefore Tony decided to attempt entry into the RAF via the Cadet College at Cranwell.  Never a brilliant scholar, Tony Dudgeon was faced with the difficult tasks of firstly getting a 'good' school certificate and then passing the Cranwell entrance exam in the top six, in order to gain free admission.  Due to some hard work on his part but still much to his surprise, he managed to gained the sixth free place.   Entering Cranwell as a Flight Cadet in 1933 he found the academic studies something of a chore, but thoroughly enjoyed the flying training.  At the end of his course, he was one of the six cadets nominated to take part in the fly-off for the 'R M Groves'  trophy, awarded to the cadet adjudged to possess the highest flying ability by a team of examiners from the CFS.  Unfortunately, although he finished second, both he and winner lost marks for slight infringements resulting in the third placed cadet gaining the trophy.

Having been in the Hart flight at Cranwell, he expected to be sent to a bomber squadron but to his delight he was posted to No 111 (Fighter) Squadron flying Bristol Bulldogs and based at Northolt. Not happy with his Flight commander, he applied to join a Torpedo Bomber squadron in Singapore.  Being rejected on the grounds that it was to early in his career for an overseas posting, he took comfort in purchasing a car.  In typical service fashion, having just nicely acquired his own transport, he received notification that he was to proceed to overseas.  Selling the aforementioned vehicle he boarded the troopship Dorsetshire bound for India.

Arriving in India, he was assigned to No 11 Squadron flying Hawker Harts and based at Risalpur.  During this period, he found himself working on detachments from advanced landing grounds with just a mechanic/air gunner.  He developed a taste for these independent operations and undertook a wide range of duties particularly developing an expertise in aerial photography/mapping.   Flying in India at that time was quite challenging with little hope of making a successful force landing should the aircraft be damaged through hostile action or should simply the engine fail.  In  1938 the squadron was re-equipped with the twin engined Bristol Blenheim and following his own conversion by his squadron commander, Tony Dudgeon was tasked with converting the rest of the unit.  In August 1939, the squadron relocated to Singapore.  It was whilst serving in Singapore that World War 2 broke out, but at that time it had little effect on the Far East.

After four years with No 11, Tony was informed that he would return to Britain just as the squadron was advised that it would return to India.  Bidding farewell to his colleagues he boarded a ship once again and sent sail 'home'.   However, he arrived in Port Said just as Italy declared war and he found himself 'posted' as a flight commander to No 45 Sqn operating in the Sudan.  After only a couple of raids with 45 he was promoted to Squadron Leader and appointed to command No 55 Squadron then based a Fuka.  Awarded a DFC after completing 44 operations he carried out about six more before being sent to rest as a instructor at No 4 FTS at RAF Habbaniya in Iraq. 

He arrived just as tension was building up in the area and quickly became involved in the preparations for a possible assault by Iraqi rebels ( see Operations Section).  However, the attack when it came was from the Iraqi Army and Air Force.   During the subsequent action, Tony Dudgeon played a key role by commanding the Oxford element of the defending forces.  He was also instrumental in carrying out a number of photographic sorties and night operations without the assistance of lighting.   Although twin engined and probably the largest aircraft available the Oxfords were limited in their bomb carrying capability and had it not been for his unofficial efforts in designing and having special brackets made they would have been unable to carry anything bigger then 8lb practise bombs. 

As with many others he found himself suffering from battle fatigue after his 'rest' posting and he was posted back to Egypt spending the remainder of his time in the theatre basically enjoying himself.  Firstly he managed to find a post for his fiancee  which allowed her to travel from India and having got married they were able to live at home in Cairo.  He was appointed SASO of No 216 Group, and was promptly informed that his job was to fly anywhere within the Middle Eastern area in any type of aircraft to ensure that the various scattered units of the Group were performing as required.  So for the next few months, he found himself flying around the Middle East, North Africa, along the re-supply route from Takoradi and back down to his old operating, the Sudan.  

However, it was eventually decided to appoint an Air Commodore to command the group and the post of SASO was raised to Group Captain.  He therefore invited to pick his own posting, opting to go to Fez in Morocco in order to set up a base for the reception of aircraft from the UK and their onward delivery to Egypt.  In 1943 he was posted back to Britain and managed to get both himself and his wife, who was pregnant, aboard a returning Dakota arriving in time for his son to be born in England.

Remaining in the transport field he found himself involved in preparations for the 'Overlord'.  He personally landed one of the first aircraft in the beach-head area following the successful landings.

After the war, he returned to Singapore, this time as a Station Commander, where he commanded two Spitfire squadrons. He did not let the opportunity slip by and managed to find time to take part in operations against Communist insurgents in Malaya.  Following his return from Singapore, he joined he Personnel staff at the Air Ministry looking after cases which not appear to be covered by King's Regulations.    One such case involved an ex-airman who wrote to him stating 'One day, in Married Quarters, I shot and killed my wife.  I was found guilty but insane.  This is not a conviction in law.  Therefore I am fully entitled to the medal for good conduct in the RAF.  Please send it to me.' *

Commands of other stations included RAF Benson, the home of the Queen's Flight and RAF Bruggen in Germany.  Prior to taking command at Bruggen, he was involved in Operation Beecher's Brook, the delivery of 400 Sabre jet fighters across the Atlantic by air, for which he received the CBE and possibly became the first RAF Group Captain to exceed the 'sound barrier'.   Appointed to the Air Staff of Flying Training Command he was responsible for the Air Cadets, later becoming the first AOC Air Cadets and Commandant of the ATC with the formation of HQ Air Cadets in ?.

Prior to his retirement he was Director of RAF Flight Safety, a job someone described to him as '..setting a poacher to catch a poacher'*.  His final posting was to Washington as a member of the NATO Standing Group and Chief of Staff to the British Joint Services Mission. 

Following his retirement, Tony Dudgeon had quite a successful career as an author as well as working for companies in France from 1968 until 1981.

*"The Luck of the Devil", AVM A G Dudgeon, p209.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

“Squadron Leader Antony Greville Dudgeon (33240), No.55 Squadron.

This officer is an outstanding leader who seeks every opportunity to inflict damage on the enemy.  He has led his squadron on numerous operational raids and has contributed largely to the many successes obtained.”

(London Gazette – 11  February 1941)

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