Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Commodore H M Probyn

H M Probyn - 1916Harold Melsome                      b: 8 Dec 1891             r: 29 Apr 1944                     d: 24 Mar 1992

CB - 8 Jun 1944, CBE - 1 Jan 1943, DSO - 17 Sep 1917, MiD - 1 Jan 1919, MiD - 11 Jul 1940.

(Army): - 2 Lt: 2 Apr 1915, (T) Lt: 28 Jun 1917 [1 Jun 1916], (T) Capt: 11 Apr 1917, Lt: 27 Jun 1917 [1 Jun 1916],

(RAF): - (T) Capt [Lt]: 1 Apr 1918, Flt Lt: 1 Aug 1919 [1 Apr 1918], Sqn Ldr: 1 Jan 1924, Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1932, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1937, (T) A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1940, A/Cdre: Retained.

 2 Apr 1915:            Officer, 5th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

xx xxx xxxx:              U/T Pilot

15 May 1916:           Flying Officer, RFC.

15 Jun 1916:             Pilot, No 34 Sqn RFC.

10 Jul 1916:              Embarked for France (by air with No 34 Sqn)

23-25 Aug 1916:      Admitted to No 39 Casualty Clearing Station (Gun shot wound to back)

11 Apr 1917:            Appointed Flight Commander (No 34 Sqn)

13 Apr 1917:            Posted to No 52 Sqn RFC

 4 Jul 1917:               Flight Commander, No 34 Sqn RFC

 8 Sep 1917:             Returned to Home Establishment

xx xxx xxxx:              Instructor, No 16 Reserve Sqn. (Yatesbury)

15 Aug 1918:            Officer Commanding, No 244 Sqn.

 1 Aug 1919:             Awarded Permanent Commission as a Captain

16 Feb 1920:            Flight Commander, No 4 Sqn. (Bristol F2B Farnborough)

20 May 1921:           Flight Commander, No 208 Sqn. (Bristol F2B Ismailia)

xx Mar 1924:            Officer Commanding, No 208 Sqn.

 4 Feb 1926:             Staff, School of Army Co-operation.

 17 Mar 1928:           Officer Commanding (designate?), No 2 Sqn.

  1 Apr 1928:            Officer Commanding, No 2 Sqn. (Bristol F2B, Atlas I Manston)

29 Sep 1930:            Officer Commanding, No 25 Sqn. (Siskin IIIA Hawkinge)

12 Feb 1932:            Officer Commanding, School of Photography.

20 Aug 1933:            Staff, HQ No 22 Group.

13 Feb 1934:            Senior Personnel Staff Officer, HQ RAF Middle East.

30 Jan 1935:              Engineering Section, HQ RAF Middle East.

26 Apr 1937:            Wing Commander/Group Captain - Training, HQ No 12 (Fighter) Group.

27 Jul 1939:              SASO, HQ No 11 (Fighter) Group.

17 Jun 1940:             AOC, RAF Cranwell.

29 Apr 1944             Retired but recalled to service?

 8 Jul 1944:               Reverted to Retired List

He gained RAeC Certificate No 2693 on 1 April 1916 and flew the first contact patrol by No 34 Squadron over the Somme battles on 12 July 1916.  On 23rd August he was slightly wounded in action.  During the 1930's he owned his own Westland Widgeon in which he and his wife used to fly all over Europe.  Even in retirement and into old age he could not let go of the flying bug and in December 1981 on his 90th birthday, he flew an aircraft he had built himself, from his home near Mount Kenya to the Nairobi Flying Club.  

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order

"2nd Lt. (T./Capt.) Harold Melsome Probyn, . War. R., and R.F.C.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. At a critical time when hostile infantry had penetrated our trenches, he went up in unfavourable weather and under heavy machine-gun and anti-aircraft fire from guns of heavy calibre, and managed to locate and report with complete accuracy the position and progress of the enemy. To do this he had to fly at a very low altitude, during which his machine was seriously damaged by enemy fire. The following day he carried out another daring and successful reconnaissance  of the enemy's line, bringing back information of the greatest value. He has already experienced a whole year's strenuous service flying, a fact which speaks for his gallantry and endurance on both of these particular occasions."

(London Gazette - 17 September 1917)

This page was last updated on 09/03/19

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