Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Marshal Sir Ivor Broom (112392)

Ivor Gordon                

b: 2 Jun 1920                      r: 6 Jul 1977                d: 24 Jan 2003

KCB 14 Jun 1975 (CB 1 Jan 1972), CBE 1 Jan 1969, DSO 26 Oct 1945, DFC 7  Apr 1942, Bar 3 Oct 1944, Bar 27 Feb 1945, AFC 31 May 1956, QCVSA 9 Jun 1955.

Plt Off: 9 Nov 1941, Fg Off (P): 1 Oct 1942, Flt Lt (WS): 9 Nov 1943, Act Sqn Ldr: xx xxx xxxx, Act Wg Cdr: 25 Oct 1944, Sqn Ldr (WS): 25 Apr 1945, Flt Lt: 2 Apr 1946 [1 Sep 1945], Sqn Ldr: 1 Jan 1950, Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1956, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1960, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1965, AVM: 1 Jan 1970, Act AM: 11 May 1974, AM: 1 Jul 1974.

xx Aug 1940:            U/T Pilot, No 6 Initial Training Wing, Aberystwyth

xx Oct 1940:            U/T Pilot, No 13 EFTS - RAF White Waltham, 

xx Dec 1940:           No 14  SFTS - RAF Cranfield

xx May 1941:           Blenheim Conversion Course, No 13 OTU -RAF Bicester

xx Jul 1941:              Sergeant Pilot, No 114 Sqn.

xx Sep 1941:            Transit flight to Malta.

18 Sep 1941:            Pilot, No 105 Sqn.

xx Sep 1941:             Pilot, No 107 Sqn.

xx Feb1942:             Attended No 7 Flying Instructor's School

xx Apr 1942:             Staff Pilot, No 13 OTU.

14 Aug 1943:            Instructor, No 1655 MTU.

23 May 1944:           Pilot, No 571 Sqn - LNSF.

xx Sep 1944:            Flight Commander, No 128 Sqn.

27 Jan 1945:             Officer Commanding, No 163 Sqn.

2 Apr 1946 :            Appointed to Permanent Commission in the rank of Flight Lieutenant (retaining rank current at the time). [wef 1 Sep 1945]

 1 Dec 1945:            Command Air Movements Officer, HQ ACSEA.

12 Dec 1946:           Officer Commanding, No 28 Sqn.

xx xxx 1948:             School's Liaison Officer - East Anglia.

xx Apr 1949:            Attended RAF Staff College.

xx Dec 1949:            Squadron Commander, No 1 Initial Training School.

xx Apr 1952:            Attended RAF Flying College.

15 May 1953:          Officer Commanding, No 57 Sqn.

xx Dec 1954:            Syndicate Leader, RAF Flying College.

xx xxx xxxx:              Officer Commanding, Bomber Command Development Unit.

23 Mar 1959:           Staff Officer, Department of the AMP.  

26 Sep 1960:           Staff Officer, Department of the AMP

28 Oct 1962:           Officer Commanding, RAF Bruggen.

xx xxx 1964:             Staff Officer, Air Ministry.

5 Mar 1966:             Director of Organisation (Establishments).

xx xxx 1968:            Commandant, Central Flying School.

 2 Feb 1970:            AOC, No 11 Group.

 6 Jan 1973:              Deputy Controller, National Air Traffic Control Service.

11 May 1974:          Controller, National Air Traffic Control Service.

Born in Cardiff and raised in the Rhondda Valley, he left school at seventeen having passed the quite difficult Civil Service Entrance Exam.  He was posted to the tax office in Banbury, Oxfordshire and by the outbreak of WW2 had been promoted and moved to Ipswich in Suffolk.  It was here that he saw and heard the Blenhiems of No 2 Group passing over his office on their way to the Continent which gave him his first thoughts about joining the struggle against Germany.  It was only because of this constant air traffic over his office that he chose the RAF in preference to the either the Army or Navy.  He reported for his initial training as an AC2 in August 1940.  Unlike the majority of trainees which would follow him, his initial flying training was conducted in Britain, with the Battle of Britain still raging overhead.

Chosen to fly twin engined aircraft, he qualified as a pilot, was promoted to Sergeant, converted onto Blenheims, the very aircraft responsible for his joining the RAF, and was posted to No 114 Sqn in No 2 Group based at West Raynham in Norfolk.  After only 12 operations with 114, he was  told to prepare for overseas.  Together with six other crews, all skippered by Sergeants he was then advised that as the most experienced, he was to lead the other six to the Middle East via Gibraltar and Malta, although at this stage nobody knew their final destination.  He successfully lead his flock to Malta at which point fate played a hand.  Due to the lack of resources on the island the AOC, AVM H P Lloyd, had developed the habit of 'high-jacking' aircraft and crews passing through Malta.  As a result Ivor Broom found himself retained in Malta, whilst the other six crews continued onto the Far East, eventually being killed or taken prisoner by the Japanese.  Ivor Broom then proceeded to take part in offensive operations against targets in Italy, Sicily and North Africa as well as supply conveys to Rommel as part of whichever squadron was detached to Malta at the time (he flew with 105 and 107 during this period).  Before long the squadron had suffered such heavy losses that Sgt Broom was one of the senior pilots left in the squadron and in Nov 1941 was commissioned by AVM Lloyd to lead the remnants on operations whilst the 'Tour Expired' CO ran things on the ground.

He was eventually repatriated to the UK via Egypt and West Africa and returned to the OTU which had trained him as an Instructor.  He remained on instructional duties for almost two years, transferring in 1943 to No 1655 Mosquito Training Unit.  It was whilst serving at 1655 MTU, that he suffered his first major crash.  He was instructing Flight Lieutenant B A MacDonald RCAF in Mosquito III, HJ962, when the port engine failed on final approach, he immediately took control from his student and attempted a 'belly' landing alongside the runway. However, his pupil, in an attempt to regain the runway pushed the good throttle forward inducing a roll and stall.  The pupil was killed and Ivor sustained a broken back having to be encased in plaster but was able to return to his unit within eight weeks to undertake ground duties.  It would be a further eight weeks before he was passed fit to fly again.   It was whilst on ground instructional duties that he met up with his namesake, 'Tommy' Broom, the CGI.  Having recovered, he returned to flying duties but on 13 March 1944, he was involved in another incident which resulted in a forced landing.  An electrical fault caused the dinghy in Mosquito IV, DK288, to deploy three minutes into the flight and foul the tail surfaces resulting in a skilful forced landing in a field.  When Ivor's instructional tour came to an end and he returned to ops., he took Tommy Broom with him as his navigator and they remained together as a team until the end of the war.  Ivor returned to the sharp end, firstly as a pilot with 571 Sqn, before assisting in the formation of 128 Sqn as a Flight Commander and finally forming No 163 Sqn as it's CO.  All of these units were equipped with Mosquito's and were part of the Light Night Striking Force of No 8 (Pathfinder) Group.

With the end of the war, he considered joining his old 'boss', Don Bennett in his airline venture, but failure to pass one of the necessary elements of the navigation exam prevented this and he applied for a permanent commission and was accepted.  Awarded a regular commission as a Flight Lieutenant, he retained the Act rank of Wing Commander and was appointed to Air Command South East Asia.  However, as the RAF contracted so the available places for Wing Commanders reduced and he found himself reverting to Act Squadron Leader and appointed to the command of a Spitfire fighter squadron, still in the Far East.  When he arrived, a rumour was circulating that he was an ex-transport pilot and was looked on with some disdain by his younger subordinates, but he soon showed them that he could fly the aircraft and at his first dining night, the other members of the squadron saw for the first time that he processed the DSO and DFC with two bars.  During his time with 28, he lead the first trial  reinforcement flight by Spitfires of Hong Kong from Singapore, 28's base.

A return to the UK saw him temporarily Act as a School's Liaison Officer prior to his attendance on the RAF Staff Course.  At this point he even considered leaving the RAF, due to the financial implications of the course (reverting to his substantive rank of Flt Lt)  Completion of his Staff course was followed by a a number of ground postings and attendance of the RAF Flying College Course at RAF Manby before he returned to operations once again.  His appointment was to form and command the third Canberra squadron in the RAF, No 57.  During his tenure, he led his squadron on a tour of the Middle East during which he flew two heads of state in his aircraft within two days, something of a record.   This was the start of his 'love affair' with the Canberra in which he amassed his greatest number of flying hours.

He returned to Manby as a Syndicate Leader in 1954 and it was during this posting he gained an AFC to add to his wartime awards.  This award was made for his flight of 28 Jun 1955 when he piloted Canberra 'Aries IV' in a record setting flight from Ottawa to London, covering the 3330 miles in 6 hours 42 minutes.  He added yet another aircraft type to his log book, when he completed the Valiant conversion course, prior to taking over command of the BCDU.  Here he was responsible for the conduct of various trials involving the RAF's current bomber inventory.   Following a further sojourn in the Air Ministry, he took command of RAF Bruggen in Germany which at that time housed two Canberra squadrons, No 213 and No 80 and  again he managed to keep himself current on the type flying sorties in aircraft of both squadrons. 

When he took over as Commandant of the Central Flying School, he quickly familiarised himself with the aircraft equipping the school including the Gnats of the Red Arrows.  It was whilst flying the Red Arrow's spare Gnat to Germany that he suffered another serious accident.  The aircraft's power controls had been cutting out, so he decided to make an emergency landing at Fairford.  As the aircraft approached the runway on finals, the controls again cut out and the sudden trim change caused the Gnat to pitch straight into the ground.  In the resulting crash he suffered broken legs and ankles.   It was as a result of this condition that he had to greet the Queen from a wheelchair when she visited Little Rissington on 26 June 1969 to present the school with it's Queen's Colour.

His appointment as AOC, No 11 Group brought him another challenge, to fly supersonic.  It was not long before he had qualified to solo both the Lightning and Phantom aircraft which made up the main equipment of his command.  His final posts in the RAF brought him into the field of airspace rather than aircraft control when he was appointed first Deputy Controller and later Controller of the National Air Traffic Services.  This joint military/civilian organisation is responsible for the control of all air movements in controlled airspace within the UK. 

After retirement he became a aviation consultant and was soon invited to join the boards of a number of companies including, Plessey Airports Ltd (1982 - 86), Gatwick Handling Ltd (Chairman) (1982 - 93) and Chairman of Carroll Aviation/Farnborough Aerospace Development Corporation (1985 - 92).  He has also been a great supporter of aviation/RAF charities as a one time Vice-President of RAFA (1981 - ), President of the Blenheim Society (1990 -  ) and President of the Mosquito Aircrew Association (1993 -   ) to name but a few.  In 1990, he led the RAFA March Past in front of Buckingham Palace in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

BROOM, Ivor Gordon, P/O (112392, RAFVR) - No.107 Squadron

"This officer has completed 45 sorties.  He has participated in attacks on a wide variety of targets with much success, obtaining hits on a factory at Catanzaro, on military barracks at Buerat, and on mechanical transport and barracks near Tripoli.  In November 1941 he bombed and machine-gunned a 4,000-ton ship, setting it on fire.  This officer has at all times displayed great leadership, courage and determination."

(Announced - London Gazette, 7 April 1942, text from RAF Quarterly, September 1942)

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order

"BROOM, Ivor Gordon, W/C, DFC (112392, Royal Air Force) - No.163 Squadron

Since the award of a second Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross, this officer has completed numerous sorties, many of which have been directed against Berlin.  Throughout he has displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and determination.  At no time has enemy opposition deterred him from completing his allotted tasks.   Wing Commander Broom has at all times set a high standard of devotion to duty."

(Source - Air Ministry Bulletin 20047)

This page was last updated on 23/06/23

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