Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Marshal Sir Thomas Elmhirst

Sir Thomas Walker ElmhirstThomas Walker                 b: 15 Dec 1895                        r: 29 Jun 1950                        d: 6 Nov 1982

KBE - 1 Jan 1946 (CBE - 2 Jun 1943), CB - 1 Jan 1945, AFC1 Jan 1919, KStJ - 29 Jun 1956, MiD - 1 Jan 1942, MiD - 11 Jun 1942, MiD - 8 Jun 1944, MiD – 1 Jan 1946, Cwn, GO - 26 Jul 1946, C de G (B) - xx xxx 194?, LoM (Cdr) - 11 Feb 1947, LoH, Cdr - xx xxx 194?, C de G (F) - xx xxx 194?, DL (Fife) - : 23 Feb 1960 – 22 Apr 1970.  

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(RN): - Mid’n: 15 May 1913, Act Sub-Lt: 15 May 1915, (T) Flt Sub-Lt: 15 May 1915, Sub-Lt: 15 Jan 1916, (T) Flt Lt: 1 Oct 1916. Lt: 15 Jul 1917, Flt Cdr: 31 Dec 1917.

(RAF): - (T) Capt [Lt]: 1 Apr 1918, (T) Maj: 6 Apr 1918, Flt Lt: 1 Aug 1919 [1 Apr 1918], Sqn Ldr: 10  Oct 1928, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1935, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1939, Act A/Cdre: xx xxx 1940, (T) A/Cdre: 1 Dec 1940, Act (U) AVM: 2 Dec 1940 - 14 Apr 1941, Act AVM: 6 Nov 1943, A/Cdre: 1 Dec 1943, (T) AVM: 1 Jun 1944, AVM: 1 Apr 1946, Act AM: 13 Feb 1947, AM: 1 Oct 1948.

Sir Thomas Walker Elmhirst

by Walter Stoneman
bromide print, July 1946
NPG x167391

© National Portrait Gallery, London

xx xxx xxxx:             Attended RN College, Osborne

xx xxx xxxx:             Attended HMS Britannia.

15 May 1913:             Midshipman, HMS Indomitable (Battle of the Dogger Bank, Dardanelles)

17 Mar 1915:               U/T Airship Pilot, (Luce Bay Airship Station?)

10 Mar 1916:             Airship Pilot, ?

12 Aug 1916:              Airship Pilot, Kingsnorth Airship Station

11 Sep 1916:              Captain, Airship C19, Howden Airship Station

 6 Apr 1918:               Officer Commanding, Airship Station - Anglesey.

xx xxx 1918:               Officer Commanding, Airship Station - Malahide.

 1 Aug 1919:               Awarded Permanent Commission in rank of Flight Lieutenant. (gazetted 26 Sep 1919)

 1 Aug 1919:               Staff Officer, 3rd Class (Technical), Airship Maintenance (Div III), Air Ministry.

22 Jan 1920:               Removed from the Navy Lists on being awarded Permanent Commission in RAF

 1 Apr 1920:               Attended School of Naval Co-operation and Aerial Navigation.

20 May 1921:             Pilot (Airship), No 267 Sqn.

 1 Aug 1923:               Staff, RAF Base, Malta

xx xxx xxxx:                U/T Aeroplane Pilot,

 5 May 1924:              Attended RAF Staff College.

15 May 1925:             AI 2 (b), Directorate of Operations and Intelligence.

31 Dec 1928:              Staff, RAF Training Base, Leuchars.

23 May 1930:             Air Staff, HQ RAF Mediterranean.

 1 Jun 1934:                Officer Commanding, No XV Sqn. (Hart – Abingdon)

12 Aug 1935:             Officer Commanding, RAF Abingdon

 6 Feb 1937:               Air Attaché, Ankara.

xx xxx 1939:               Officer Commanding, RAF Leconfield.

xx Sep 1939:               Officer Commanding, RAF Abingdon

20 Jan 1940:               Deputy Director of Intelligence (3)

 7 Sep 1940:              Controller, HQ Fighter Command.

 2 Dec 1940:              RAF Member, British Mission to Turkish General Staff.

14 Apr 1941:              AOC, No 202 Group.

14 Feb 1942:              AOA, HQ Desert Air Force.

xx xxx 1942:               AOC, AHQ Egypt.

 1 Mar 1943:              AOA, HQ North-West Allied Tactical Air Forces.

6 Nov 1943:               AOA, HQ 2nd Tactical Air Force.

xx Aug 1945:               Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Intelligence).

 1 Apr 1947:              Chief of Inter-Services Administration in India.

15 Aug 1947:             AOC, Royal Indian Air Force. 

xx Jun 1948:               CAS/C in C, Indian Air Force.

Born near Howden (which would later become the RAF Airship Base), his father was a Curate at Laxton.  Joining the Navy in 1913, he served aboard HMS Indomitable and took part in the chase of the Goeben and Breslau and later in the bombardment of the Dardenelles and the Battle of Dogger Bank. In 1915 he transferred to the RNAS and became an airship pilot, serving at Luce Bay and then Howden, near his birthplace, where he flew 'C' Type airships on North Sea patrols.  At the end of war, he remained in the RAF and remained on airships, becoming a 1st Class Navigator following a course in 1920.

During his period as OC No 15 Sqn, that he adopted the form 'XV' for the squadron number which has been used ever since.  Sir Thomas was asked to became first C in C of the independent Indian Air Force, but ill health forced him to end his tour early he returned to Britain and retirement.  He became a County Councilor in Fife in 1950 and Civil Defence Controller for the Eastern Zone of Scotland in 1952.  However, he gave up these posts in 1953 when he joined the Ministry of Supply to organise the staff and transportation of equipment in connection with the Atomic Bomb trails in Australia.  Completing this task he was appointed the Lieutenant-Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Island of Guernsey, remaining in this post until 1958, on retirement from this post, he returned to Fife, where he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant in 1960, remaining in post until 1970.

Recommendation for the award of Companion of the Order of the Bath

"ELMHURST, Thomas Walter, AVM, CBE, AFC (Royal Air Force) - 2nd Tactical Air Force

This officer has been Air Officer Administration of the 2nd Tactical Air Force since November 1943.  He had previously done fine work as the Air Officer Commanding, Egypt and then as administrator of the Desert Air Force.  Later, he was posted to North Africa for the formation of 1st Tactical Air Force.  Air Vice-Marshal Elmhurst has acquired tremendous experience of administration and organization.  The result of his conscientious industry and personality has been clearly evident in the smooth running of the administrative side of the invasion operations.  Air Vice-Marshal Elmhurst has also performed valuable worth for the Ninth American Air Force."

(Source - Air 2/9017)

This page was last updated on 15/12/23

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