Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Vice-Marshal A D Frank (70227)

Alan Donald                  b: 27 Jul 1917                       r: 27 Oct 1970                    d: 6 Oct 2001

CB – 10 Jun 1967, CBE – 2 Jun 1962, DSO – 9 Jul 1943, DFC – 22 Aug 1941, BA.

(RAFO): Plt Off (P): 29 Dec 1936, Plt Off: 10 Sep 1939, Fg Off: xx xxx 1940, Flt Lt: 15 Sep 1940, Act Sqn Ldr: 17 Apr 1941, (T) Sqn Ldr: 1 Dec 1941, Act Wg Cdr: 28 Jan 1943?, Sqn Ldr (WS): 28 Jul 1943,  

(RAF): Sqn Ldr: 26 Mar 1946 [1 Sep 1945],  Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1951, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1958, Act A/Cdre: 6 Oct 1962, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1963, AVM: 1 Jul 1965.  

29 Dec 1936:          Granted a Commission in the RAFO (Class AA)

 5 Feb 1940:            Attended (Conversion) Course, RAF Cottesmore

 5 Feb 1940:            Pilot (Operational Training), No 98 Sqn

11 May 1940:          Pilot, No 150 Sqn (Battles, Wellingtons)

17 Apr 1941:           Flight Commander, No 150 Sqn.

xx Aug 1941:           Flight Commander, 'C' Flight, No 15 OTU

 8 Sep 1941:            Operations Room Duties, RAF Snaith

xx xxx 1941:            Flight Commander?, No 460 Squadron.

xx xxx 1942:            RAF Liaison Officer to BAFTP – Georgia, USA.

xx xxx 1942:            Flight Commander, No 10 Sqn (Halifax)

 7 Feb 1943:            Attended Bomber Command Tactics Course

xx Apr 1943:           Officer Commanding, No 51 Sqn. (Halifax BII)

14 Nov 1943:           Chief Flying Instructor, No 1652 HCU

xx xxx 1944:            Attended RAF Staff College.

xx xxx 1944:            Air Staff, ‘Tiger Force’

25 Sep 1945:           Staff, Air Staff Policy.

26 Mar 1946:          Appointed to a Permanent Commission in the rank of Squadron Leader (retaining rank current at the time) [wef 1 Sep 1945]

xx xxx 1946:            Officer Commanding, Aden Communications Flight

xx xxx 1947:           

14 Jan 1952:            Staff Officer, Directorate of Operational Requirements (B)

21 May 1957:          Officer Commanding, No 83 Sqn.

xx xxx 1958:            Officer Commanding, RAF Honington.

 2 Jun 1960:            Group Captain - Operations, HQ Bomber Command.

 6 Oct 1962:            Director of Operational Requirement (C).

21 Aug 1965:           Air Attaché/Commander, RAF Staff, British Joint Services Mission, Washington.

26 Feb 1968:           SASO, HQ Air Support Command.

Born in Cheshire, he attended Eton and joined the RAFO whilst a undergraduate at Magdalen College Oxford and learnt to fly with the University Air Squadron.  He was mobilised in 1939 and posted to No 150 Squadron, with whom he flew Battles as part of the AASF in France.  On 19 May 1940 he was flying L5583, when he was made a forced landing on Sommesousse airfield, where he had to leave the aircraft and made his way back to his unit.  The Battle was totally outclassed against the German fighters and losses amongst Battle crews were extremely heavy, but Alan Frank survived and was still with 150 when  it returned to the UK after the Dunkirk evacuation, where it began  converting to Wellingtons.

After a year with No 150, he moved to No 460 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force as a flight commander.  Taken off operations in 1942, he travelled to the USA to act as a Liaison Officer, but was back in the UK, later that year, where he assumed command of No 10 Squadron, equipped with Halifaxes.  He took command of another Halifax unit, No 51 Squadron, in April 1943, taking part in numerous raids over Germany, including Operation 'Gomorrah', the attack against Hamburg in July 1943 as well as operations against Italian targets.

He now had the opportunity to attend the RAF Staff College, following which he was assigned to the Air Staff of 'Tiger Force', which was due to take control of much of Bomber Command, once Germany had been defeated and join the fighting in the Pacific and against the Japanese home islands.  However, the dropping of the atomic bombs brought the war to an end and with 'Tiger Force' no longer required it was disbanded.  Frank transferred to the Air Ministry, with the disbandment of 'Tiger Force'.

Returning to flying, he was given command of the Aden Communications Flight, where he organised famine relief operations on the Hadhramaut plateau of southern Arabia.  

In 1957, having completed the Vulcan conversion course at No 230 OCU he was tasked with forming the first operational Vulcan squadron, No 83, although the unit's first aircraft did not arrive until July 1957.  In the meantime the squadron used aircraft from the OCU and in June two of the squadron's crews took part in the Bomber Command Bombing Competition, one of which was Wing Commander Frank's.  They won the competition collecting four of the six prizes.   In October, Wing Commander Frank was again captaining a crew in a competition, this time, the SAC Bombing Competition in the USA, although the Vulcans only achieved 44th place.

After command of No 83, he took command of the Victor base at Honington, before moving the HQ Bomber Command in 1960.  In 1962 he returned to the Air Ministry as Director of Operational Requirements (C) and three years later returned to the USA as Air Attaché and Commander of the RAF Staff of the British Joint Services Mission.  His final appointment was as Senior Air Staff Officer at HQ Air Support Command.  From 1970 to 1974, he was Bursar of St Antony's College, Oxford.  

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

"FRANK, Alan Donald, A/S/L (70227, Royal Air Force) - No.150 Squadron

This officer has attacked targets at Kiel, Hamburg, Cologne, Bremen, Brest, St.Nazaire and Berlin, often in the face of very adverse weather conditions.  On one occasion, when his hydraulics had been shot away, he landed his aircraft at base without flaps or undercarriage and in such a manner that the aircraft was flying again within three weeks.  Squadron Leader Frank has at all times displayed courageous and skilful leadership and has set an example to all."

(Source - Air 2/8899 citation drafted when he had flown 25 sorties (113 operational hours)

This page was last updated on 17/03/24

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