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Air Vice-Marshal J R Gordon-Finlayson (36078)


James Richmond                     b: 19 Aug 1914                     r: 4 Jun 1963                d: 3 Mar 1990

DSO – 25 Mar 1941, DFC – 7 Jan 1941, MiD - 17 Mar 1941, DFC (G)  - 29 Dec 1942. MA.

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

Plt Off: 19 Oct 1936 [19 Jul 1935], Fg Off: 19 Apr 1937 [19 Jan 1937], Act Flt Lt: 19 Oct 1938 – 5 Jan 1939, Flt Lt: 19 Apr 1939 [19 Jan 1939], (T) Sqn Ldr: 1 Sep 1940, Act Wg Cdr: 1 Mar 1941, (T) Wg Cdr: 1 Dec 1941, Sqn Ldr: 14 Apr 1942 [1 Sep 1940], Act Gp Capt: 13 Mar 1944, Wg Cdr (WS): 13 Sep 1944, Wg Cdr: 1 Oct 1946, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1951, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1958, Act AVM: 1 May 1960, AVM: 1 Jan 1961.

 9 Jul 1934:            Member, Cambridge University Air Squadron.

19 Jul 1935:           Granted a Permanent Commission.

19 Jul 1935:           U/T Pilot, No 5 FTS

30 Jun 1937:          Pilot, No 83 Sqn.  

1 Apr 1938:           Pilot, No 113 Sqn.

19 Oct 1938 - 5 Jan 1939:        Flight Commander, No 113 Sqn

19 Jan 1939:           ADC to Governor of Kenya.

xx xxx 1939:           Attached to No 113 Sqn

21 Sep 1939:          'A' Flight Commander, No 211 Sqn.

xx Sep 1940:          Officer Commanding, No 211 Sqn. (Blenheim)

xx Mar 1941:          Officer Commanding, Eastern Wing (Greece)

xx xxx 1941:           Senior Operations Officer, AHQ Western Desert.

xx xxx 1942:           Attended RAF Staff College.

19 Oct 1942:          Staff, Air Staff Policy (General).

13 Mar 1944:         Deputy Director, Directorate of Air Transport Policy and Operations.

xx xxx 1945:           RAF Liaison Officer to USAAF, Guam.

xx xxx 1945:           Staff, HQ ACSEA.

xx xxx 1946:           SASO, AHQ Burma.

xx xxx 1947:           Directing Staff, Joint Services Staff College.

xx xxx 1951:           Air Staff, Air Ministry.

xx xxx 1954:           Officer Commanding, RAF Deversoir.

xx xxx 1954:           Officer Commanding, RAF Khormaksar.

xx xxx 1956:           Air Staff, HQ Bomber Command.

 3 Dec 1956:           Assistant Commandant, RAF Staff  College, Bracknell

 1 May 1960:          Director-General of Personal Services.

The son of an Army officer he attended Pembroke College, Cambridge graduating with a MA, he was elected to the Inner Temple in 1935, but opted to join the RAF.  As senior flight commander, he took command of No 211 Squadron when  his CO was lost on operations shortly before the squadron was sent to Greece.  In 1941, he was awarded the RAF 's first DSO in the Middle East having completed 100 operations, having also been awarded the RAF’s first DSO in Greece. 

Following a raid on Tobruk on 25 September 1940, his aircraft (L8523) developed a fire in the starboard engine, but he was able to nurse the aircraft a further 130km before making a forced landing.  On 24 November 1941, his aircraft (L8511) was hit by AA fire whilst attacking Valona.  Unable to reach his base, he managed to crash land on the island of Corfu, where he and his crew were toasted and feted before they were returned to the mainland by boat and they were able to rejoin their squadron. 

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

“Acting Squadron Leader James Richmond GORDON - FINLAYSON (36078), No. 211 Squadron.

This officer has completed more than 40 day and night raids and reconnaissance’s over enemy territory in Greece and the Western Desert. Undaunted by continual severe anti-aircraft fire and attacks by fighters he has shown superb courage, determination and devotion to duty. The accuracy of his bombing has resulted in great damage to enemy positions and transport concentration, and his determined leadership of his squadron has enabled most effective results to be secured.”

(London Gazette – 7 January 1941)

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order

“Squadron Leader James Richmond GORDON-FlNLAYSON, D.F.C.(36078), No.211 Squadron.

This officer has completed over 100 operational sorties both by day and night.  Throughout these operations, most of which have been carried out under exceptionally difficult conditions, he has displayed out standing leadership and skill and, by his splendid example of courage and determination, has contributed materially to the successes achieved by his squadron.”

(London Gazette – 25 March 1941)

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