Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Commodore P L Donkin (33053)

Peter Langloh               b: 19 Jun 1913                      r: 20 Aug 1962                     d:12 Jul 2000

CBE – 29 Jun 1948, DSO – 22 Feb 1944.

Plt Off: 15 Jul 1933, Fg Off: 15 Jan 1935, Flt Lt: 15 Jan 1937, Sqn Ldr: 1 Apr 1939, Act Wg Cdr: 21 Sep 1940, (T) Wg Cdr: 1 Jun 1941, Act Gp Capt: 12 Oct 1942, Wg Cdr (WS): 12 Apr 1943, Wg Cdr: 1 Oct 1946, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1951, Act A/Cdre: 25 Jan 1954, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1957.

 4 Sep 1931:            Flight Cadet, 'C' Sqn, RAF College.

15 Jul 1933:             Pilot, No 16 Sqn.

15 Jan 1937:            'A' Flight Commander, No 16 Sqn.

 9 Jan 1939:             Supernumerary, No 1 RAF Depot

 1 Sep 1939:            Member, British Military Mission to Poland.

12 Oct 1939:           Officer Commanding, No 225 Sqn.

 1 Jun 1940:             Sqn Ldr - Flying, No 225 Sqn

 4 Sep 1940:            Supernumerary, No 4 Sqn

 7 Sep 1940:            Officer Commanding (Temporary), No 4 Sqn.

11 Sep 1940:           Air Staff, HQ No 22 (Army Co-operation) Group.

18 Sep 1940:           Officer Commanding, No 239 Sqn.

26 Nov - 5 Dec 1940:            Attached, Minley Manor for exercise

12 Oct 1942:           Officer Commanding, No 33 Wing.

 1 Apr 1943:           Officer Commanding, No 35 Wing .

13 Apr 1944:           Reported missing from Air Operations.

19 Apr 1944:           Recuperating in hospital

 1 May 1944:           Officer Commanding, No 35 Wing .

xx Aug 1944:            ?

30 Oct 1944:            Staff, School of Land/Air Warfare.

 3 Apr 1946:            Air Staff, HQ RAF Levant

25 Aug 1948:            Attended RCAF Staff College.

11 Sep 1949:            Exchange posting, USAF.

 1 Jan 1951:            Officer Commanding, RAF Chivenor.

25 Jan 1954:            Air Attaché, Moscow.

28 May 1956:          Assistant Chief of Staff (Intelligence), HQ Allied Air Forces Central Europe.

 6 Jan 1959:             Attended Imperial Defence College.

13 Feb 1960:            AOC, RAF Hong Kong.

He represented the RAF College at Rugby and Boxing and attained the rank of Flight Cadet Corporal.

He entered Cranwell after attending Sherborne College from 1927 to 1931.  On graduating from Cranwell, he joined No 16 (Army Co-operation), then flying the Armstrong Whitworth Atlas but by the time he left the squadron as a flight commander in 1938, it had re-equipped twice, first with the Hawker Audax and then the Westland Lysander.   Between 31 October and 3 November, he led four Lysanders of the squadron on a long distance flight from Old Sarum to and around Scotland.

A brief break followed when he joined the British Military Mission to Poland in 1939 but on his return he was soon back into operational flying as CO of No 225 Squadron flying Lysanders.  He remained in active flying posts until nearly the end of WW2.  Taking temporary command of No 4 Squadron in September 1940 he was soon tasked with the formation of a new unit, No 239 Squadron.  Initially formed from flights of No's 4 and 225 Squadrons, it was equipped with Lysanders for support of IV Corps.  He commanded 239 for two years, which was a long time in war time and as when he was with No 16, the squadron's equipment was gradually upgraded through Tomahawks, Hurricanes until Mustangs arrived in May 1942.  In October 1942 he was promoted and given command of No 35 (Reconnaissance) Wing as part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force.  This unit consisted of No's 2, 4 and 268 Squadrons with 26 and 63 Squadrons being attached.  Taking part in a recce operation on 13 Apr 1944, his aircraft was hit and he was forced to ditch.  He was eventually found in his dinghy after six days and five nights afloat.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order

"DONKIN, Peter Langlon, G/C (33053, Royal Air Force) - No.35 Wing.

Group Captain Donkin has taken part in many operational sorties during which he has attacked transport targets with good results.  Recently, from a low level, he obtained some excellent photographs of a heavily defended section of the French coast.  As a commanding officer, Group Captain Donkin has displayed outstanding leadership and by his careful planning and discipline has enabled his squadron to undertake sustained offensive and photographic operations with notable success."

 (Source - Air Ministry Bulletin 12962.)

This page was last updated on 27/08/23

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