Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Vice Marshal E B C Betts

Eric Bourne Coulter      b: 14 Jan 1897                 r: 10 Mar 1946                        d: 30 Oct 1971

CBE - 2 Jun 1943, DSC - 21 Apr 1917, DFC - 21 Sep 1918, MiD – 1 Jan 1945, CdeG(F) - 20 Jul 1917, CdeG(P) - 16 Dec 1919, OP(GC) - 6 Sep 1946.  

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(RNVR/RNAS):-  OS: 19 Jan 1915, Sig/man: 20 Apr 1915, (T) Sub-Lt:  14 Oct 1915, (T) Obs Sub-Lt:  1 Jan 1916, Obs Lt: 28 Feb 1917, (T) Lt:  28 Feb 1917(T) Flt Obs: 31 Dec 1917.

(RAF):-- (T) Capt [Lt]  1 Apr 1918, Ob Off: 1 Aug 1919 [1 Apr 1918], Flt Lt: 30 Jun 1921 [1 Apr 1918], Sqn Ldr: 29 May 1929, Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1936, Gp Capt: 1 Apr 1939, (T) A/Cdre: 1 Mar 1941, Act AVM: 14 Mar 1943 - 16 Dec 1944,  A/Cdre (WS): 14 Mar 1944, A/Cdre: 1 Dec 1944, AVM: Retained,

19 Jan 1915:          Ordinary Seaman (Z/1300), RNVR, Public Schools Battalion, RN Division.

 6 Feb 1915:           Attended Signals School.

16 Mar 1915:         Drafted to Chatham for Sea Service (HMS Pembroke I).

22 Apr 1915:          Signalman, HMS Imperiense

 9 Sep 1915:           Signalman, HMS Royal Arthur

16 Oct 1915:           Seconded for Observer duty in the RNAS

xx xxx 1915:           Observer, No 1 Wing RNAS

 24 May 1917:        Sick Leave

5 May 1917:           Instructor, Observers' School, Eastchurch

xx Jun 1917:            Observer, Hendon Air Station.

xx Aug 1917:           Observer, Yarmouth Air Station.

1918                        Officer Commanding, Observer's School.  

1917                        Observer, No 2 Sqn, RNAS.

 1 Apr 1918:            Observer, No 202 Sqn.

29 Mar 1919:           Observer, RAF Eastchurch

 1 Aug 1919:            Awarded Permanent Commission as a Lieutenant (Observer)

 5 Dec 1919:            Observer, HMS Pegasus.

28 Feb 1922:           Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

  3 Apr 1922:           Attended RAF Staff College.

 4 Apr 1923:            U/T Pilot, No 1 FTS.

17 Sep 1923:           Air Staff, HQ Inland Area.

?                              QFI Course?

20 Mar 1928:           QFI, No 3 FTS.

16 Nov 1929:           Air Staff, HQ Aden Command.

 5 Mar 1932:            Supernumerary, RAF Depot.  

xx xxx - 28 Jun 1932:    Placed on half pay list, Scale ?

 8 Aug 1932:            Air Staff, HQ Wessex Bombing Area/Western Area.

21 Dec 1933:           Officer Commanding, No 101 Sqn. (Sidestrand/Overstrand)

 1 Dec 1934:             Officer Commanding, No 101 Sqn/RAF Bicester

14 Jan 1936:            Air Staff, Deputy Directorate of  War Organization.

xx xxx 1939:             Deputy Director of War Organisation.

15 Mar 1940:           Head of WO1, Directorate-General of Organisation.

 1 Jan 1941:            Gazetted for rendering valuable services in connection with the war

15 Aug 1942:           Group Captain - Operations?, HQ Middle East Command.

26 Mar 1943:           AOA, HQ Middle East Command.

16 Dec 1944 - 46      ?

He attended Sherborne School from 1911 to 1914 and went to Trinity College, Dublin.  Originally a officer in the Royal Marines.  He was selected for a special mission in 1917, involving specially modified DH4s.  This mission was intended to take reconnaissance pictures of German naval bases west of the Kiel Canal.  The Admiralty cancelled the projected mission in August and the aircraft and crews were allocated to Great Yarmouth, to where they had moved earlier that month.  Joining No 202 Squadron, he often flew as observer to Capt Noel Keeble.  Flying DH4’s along the Belgium coast, they claimed four enemy aircraft shot down including two Fokker DVII’s.

Between September 1939 and May 1940, he made 16 forecasts of requirements for the summer of 1940.  These forecasts covered items including, ammunition, bomb expenditure, aircrew and aviation fuel consumption.  Of these forecasts, only two were over 4% out and they were still less than 5% inaccurate.

During his time as Deputy Director of Peace Organisation he was a member of the committee that held talks in 1939 with delegates from Poland about the supply of Battles Hurricanes and Spitfires, but supplies failed to reach the country before the German victory.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Cross

“Sub-Lieut, (now Lieut.)Eric Bourne Coulter Betts, R.N.V.R.

In recognition of his services on the 1st February,1917,when he carried out a long reconnaissance and returned with extremely important information, shooting down an enemy scout machine which attacked him on his way back.”

(London Gazette – 21 April 1917)

Citation for the award the of the Distinguished Flying Cross

"Capt. Eric Bourne Coulter Betts, D.S.C. (Sea Patrol).

An observer officer of great skill who has carried out over 20 long-distance photographic reconnaissances during the past four months, and in conjunction with his pilot, has brought home about 1,000 photographs of enemy positions of inestimable value, in addition to destroying eight enemy machines."

(London Gazette - 21 September 1918)

This page was last updated on 12/10/22

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