Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation


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Air Vice Marshal Sir Edward Fielden


AVM Sir Edward FieldenEdward Hedley                  

b: 4 Dec 1903                 

r: 14 Jan 1929

d: 8 Nov 1976

GCVO - 8 Jun 1968 (CVO - 24 Jun 1943, MVO - 30 Oct 1936), CB - 1 Jan 1946, DFC - 6 Apr 1943, AFC - 1 Mar 1929, MiD - 17 Mar 1941, MiD – 1 Jan 1945.

(RAF): Plt Off (P): 14 Jan 1924, Plt Off: 14 Jul 1924, Fg Off: 14 Aug 1925,

(RAFO): Fg Off: 14 Jan 1929, Flt Lt: 1 Nov 1929, Sqn Ldr: N/A, 22 Jul 1936, (T) Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1943, Act A/Cdre: 12 Feb 1945, Gp Capt (WS): 12 Aug 1945, A/Cdre: xx xxx 1945?, AVM: 1 Feb 1962.

14 Jan 1924:           U/T Pilot, No 2 FTS.

 9 Jul 1925:             Pilot, No 23 Sqn.

13 Sep 1926:          Pilot, Station Flight, RAF Duxford.

14 Jan 1929:           Transferred to the RAFO (Class A)

14 Jan 1929:           Personal Pilot to HRH The Prince of Wales. (RAFO).

22 Sep 1933:          Chief Air Pilot/Extra Equerry to HRH, The Prince of Wales (RAFO)

21 Jul 1936:            Captain of The King's Flight (RAFO)

xx Feb 1942:           Officer Commanding, No 161 Squadron

xx Oct 1942:           Officer Commanding, RAF Tempsford.

28 Jun 1945:           Air Staff, HQ Transport Command.

 3 Jan 1947:            Captain of the King's/Queen's Flight.

  1 Feb 1962           Senior Air Equerry to The Queen

13 Mar 1962:          Relinquished his appointment as Captain of the Queen's Flight.

Shortly after transferring to the Reserve of RAF Officers in ?, Flight Lt Fielden was chosen by the Prince of Wales (Later King Edward VIII) to be his private pilot.  This involved piloting the Prince's private aircraft, Gypsy Moth G-AAKV, and being responsible for it's maintenance.  As the Prince's pilot, Fielden, known as 'Mouse' was a member of the Prince's staff, having retired from the RAF, and all the aircraft he flew and maintained during this period were registered in his name on the civil register, whilst remaining the property of the Prince.

The Prince of Wales held the RAF rank of Air Chief Marshal but with the death of King George V on 20 Jan 1936 and the Prince's accession to the throne as Edward VIII, he became a Marshal of the RAF.  As such he was entitled to a communications aircraft provided at public expense.  It was therefore decided to replace the new Monarch's own aircraft with an Airspeed Envoy (still civil registered) and place it on official inventory by allocating it to a new unit to known as 'The King's Flight'.  At this point, 'Mouse' Fielden was appointed an Equerry in Waiting and at the same time promoted to Wing Commander.

With King Edward's abdication and succession by his brother King George VI, Fielden was confirmed in his appointment and continued as Capt of The King's Flight. The King's Flight continued to operate after the outbreak of WW2 but in early 1942 it's aircraft was absorbed into No 161 Sqn with Fielden as it's commander.  161 Sqn's role was that of delivering and picking up agents from within enemy occupied territory.  These flights involved deep penetration flights on dark nights at low level into landing sites, often of unknown quality.  Although the King's Flight as such had ceased to exist with royal flights being transferred to No 24 Squadron, Fielden maintained his appointment as Captain of the King's Flight.

As such he continued to accompany His Majesty when he flew taking time off from his duties as OC No 161 Squadron and later as Station Commander, RAF Tempsford.  With the end of World War Two, it was pointed out to the King that air travel would become even more necessary in the future and so in May 1946 the King's Flight was reformed with Fielden once again at the helm as Capt, by now promoted to Air Commodore.  Following the King's death in 1952, the Flight was renamed The Queen's Flight.  Air Commodore Fielden remained as Capt of the Queen's Flight until he retired on 1 January 1962, when he was promoted to Air Vice Marshal and appointed Senior Air Equerry to The Queen.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

“Group Captain Edward Hedley FIELDEN, M.V.O., A.F.C.

This officer has flown on various operational missions, some of a most hazardous nature.  He has displayed a high standard of operational efficiency, setting an example which has contributed materially to the high morale of the air crews under his command.  His great organising ability has proved a valuable asset.”

(London Gazette – 6 April 1943)

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