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Air Vice-Marshal H R Graham (32009)


Henry Rudolph             b: 28 Mar 1910                     r: 28 Apr 1962                     d: 14 Feb  1987

CB – 12 Jun 1958, CBE – 9 Jun 1955, DSO- 22 Aug 1941, DFC – 9 Jan 1942, MiD - 1 Jan 1941, MC (Czech 1939) – 10 Jan 1941

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

Plt Off (P): 10 Apr 1931, Plt Off: 10 Apr 1932, Fg Off: 10 Nov 1932, Flt Lt: 1 Apr 1936, Sqn Ldr: 1 Dec 1938, (T) Wg Cdr: 1 Mar 1941, Wg Cdr (WS): 27 Jan 1943, Act Gp Capt: 22 Jun 1943?, Gp Capt (WS): 22 Dec 1943?, (T) Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1944, Wg Cdr: 1 Oct 1946, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1947, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1954, Act AVM: 19 Dec 1955, AVM: 1 Jul 1956.

24 Apr 1931:            U/T Pilot, No 3 FTS.

27 Mar 1932:            Pilot, No 56 Sqn.

28 Feb 1933:            Pilot/Flight Commander, No 45 Sqn.

 7 Dec 1936:            Adjutant, RAF Heliopolis.

 4 Apr 1938:            Attended School of Air Navigation.

30 Jan 1939:            Group Navigation Officer, HQ No 3 (Bomber) Group.

xx Aug 1940:           Seconded as Flight Commander/Navigation Instructor, No 311 (Czech) Sqn.           

17 Oct 1940:            Navigation Staff Officer, HQ Bomber Command.

xx Apr 1941:            Officer Commanding, No 7 Sqn. (Stirlings)

xx Apr 1942:

27 Jul 1942:             Command Navigation Officer, HQ Bomber Command.

22 Jun 1943:            Officer Commanding, RAF Wyton.

27 Oct 1943:

xx xxx 1945:            Deputy Director, Directorate of Navigation.

 6 Jul 1945:              Head of Flying Control, HQ Transport Command.

xx xxx xxxx:             Officer Commanding, No 5 FTS/RAF Oakington.

21 Apr 1952:           Director of Operations (3).

19 Dec 1955:           AOC, No 23 (Training) Group.

 1 Dec 1958:            AOA, HQ Flying Training Command.

A South African, he originally intended to make a career at sea having been educated on the Training Ship ''General Botha'' followed by five years (1926 -31) with the Union Castle Line.

In 1940 he was seconded to assist in the formation of the Czechoslovakia manned No 311 Squadron, flying at least one sortie with the unit in Wellington L7778/KX-U attacking Boulogne-sur-Mer harbour on 26 September.  In 1941, he was involved in talks with fellow South African, A G "Sailor" Malan at HQ Fighter Command which eventually led to the establishment of joint bomber/fighter operations, to be known by the name  "Circus".   Selected to command the first four-engined bomber squadron in Bomber Command, No 7, when it re-equipped with the Short Stirling, it was not long before he was attempting to prove the type in battle.   During a daylight raid in 1941, he led three

Stirlings which were promptly attacked by 12 Bf 109's, for a while he was able to hold off the German attack but the three bombers were eventually separated.  However, he managed to hold his aircraft steady thereby giving his gunners a steady platform, a tactic which resulted in a 109 being seen to go down having attempted a head on attack and narrowly missed his Stirling.  On 15 August 1941, he was returning from an operation to Magdenburg in N6041 when it overshot the runway at Oakington and crashed, although all the crew were uninjured.

He retired from the RAF and returned to his native South Africa to take up farming and from 1966 to 1969, was a member of the National Trust.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

“Wing Commander Henry Rudolph GRAHAM, D.S.O. (32009), No.7 Squadron.

One day in December 1941, a strong force of bomber aircraft carried out a determined attack on the German warships Gneisenau and Scharnhorst at Brest.  The operation was carried out in the face of extremely heavy and accurate anti-aircraft fire and determined attacks by enemy fighters.  Nevertheless the air crews engaged pressed home their attacks to the utmost and succeeded in scoring hits on their objectives.  Several enemy aircraft were shot down.  The success of the operation, which demanded the highest degree of skill and courage ,reflects the greatest credit on the efforts of the following officers and airmen who participated in various capacities as leaders and members of aircraft crews: -“

This was a general citation for a number of awards

 (London Gazette – 9 Jan 1942)

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