Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Commodore J H Greswell (37318)

Jeaffreson Herbert                    b: 28 Jul 1916                        r: 28 Jul 1968                        d: 19 Nov 2000

CB 10 Jun 1967, CBE 2 Jun 1962 (OBE - 1 Jan 1946), DSO 28 Mar 1944, DFC 28 Jul 1942, MiD - 1 Jan 1941.

Act Plt Off: 30 Sep 1935, Plt Off: 6 Aug 1936, Fg Off: 6 Feb 1938, Act Flt Lt: 6 Feb 1939, Flt Lt (WS): 6 Feb 1940, (T) Sqn Ldr: 1 Mar 1941, Act Wg Cdr: 1 Mar 1942?, (T) Wg Cdr: 1 Jun 1942, Sqn Ldr (WS): 1 Sep 1942, Act Gp Capt: xx xxx 1943, Sqn Ldr: 25 Feb 1947 [1 Jun 1944], Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1947, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1955, Act A/Cdre: xx xxx 1961 A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1962.

 30 Sep 1935:              Granted Short Service Commission in the rank of Acting Pilot Officer on probation.

30 Sep 1935:               Initial Officer Training, RAF Depot?

19 Oct 1935:               U/T Pilot, No 5 FTS.

15 Mar 1937:              Pilot, No 217 Sqn.

xx xxx 1941:                Staff, Coastal Command Development Unit

xx Jan 1942:                Officer Commanding, No 1471 Flight

xx xxx 1942:                Flight Commander, No 172 Sqn.

xx xxx 1942:                Air Staff, HQ Coastal Command.

xx Dec 1942:               Liaison Officer to US Navy.

xx xxx 1943:               Air Staff, HQ No 19 Group.

xx Jul 1943:                 Officer Commanding, No 179 Sqn.

xx Apr 1944:              Air Staff, HQ Coastal Command.

 6 Aug 1944:               Transferred to RAFO and called up for service.

27 Oct 1944:               Air Staff, HQ No 18 (Reconnaissance) Group.

27 Jul 1945:                 Air Staff, HQ Coastal Command

xx xxx 1946:                Air Liaison Officer, Pacific Fleet.

26 Mar 1946:              Appointed to a Permanent Commission in the rank of Squadron Leader (retaining rank current at the time) [wef 1 Sep 1945 antedated to 1 Jun 1944 on 25 Feb 1947]

30 Nov 1947:               Administrative Staff Officer, HQ Air Command Far East

xx xxx 1949:                Staff, Joint Anti-Submarine School.

xx xxx 1952:                Staff, RAF Flying College.

xx xxx 1954:                Planning Staff, MoD.

19 Sep 1955:               Staff Officer, Directorate of Plans

xx xxx 1957:                Officer Commanding, RAF Kinloss.

 5 Nov 1959:               Group Captain - Operations Plans, HQ Coastal Command.

xx xxx 1961:                UK National Military Representative to NATO Standing Group.

 3 Jun 1964:                 Commandant, Royal Observer Corps.

Jeaff Greswell made RAF history on the night of 3/4 May 1942, when he carried out the first successful night attack on a surfaced submarine using the newly introduced Leigh Light.  Then a flight commander in No 172 Squadron he was  flying Wellington ES986, when his radar operator picked up a radar contact.  Successfully homing onto the contact he used the light to illuminate the Italian submarine Luigi Torelli which was recharging its batteries on the surface and carried out an attack which crippled the boat.  Although not sunk, it was prevented from submerging and was later captured, repaired and put into service with the Royal Navy.  His co-pilot on this occasion was Allan Triggs, who would later be awarded the VC for carrying out an attack on a German U-boat.

He later commanded No 179 Squadron, also equipped with Wellingtons after which he was promoted to Group Captain and sent to the USA to take delivery of a secret weapon and accompany it back to the UK.  The weapon in question was the first acoustic homing torpedo, and to maintain the secrecy of its existence, had been named the 'Mark 24 Mine'.  However, having safely delivered his cargo to the appropriate authorities he went on leave, only to receive a summons from HM Customs for 'illegally imported a homing torpedo into Britain without paying duty', needless to say he passed the summons onto the Air Ministry.

He had been invovled in development of the Leigh Light from his early days at the CCDU and as a result he was tasked with carrying out its operational trials with No 1471 Flight, which was later absorbed by No 172 Squadron.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

"GRESWELL, Jeaffreson Herbert, S/L (37318, Royal Air Force) - No.172 Squadron.  This captain of aircraft has at all times displayed high qualities of perseverance and enthusiasm in the performance of his duties.  On one occasion he carried out a successful low level bombing attack on an enemy submarine."

(Source - Royal Air Force Quarterly, December 1942.)

This page was last updated on 20/12/23

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