Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Air Vice-Marshal D E Hawkins (40700)

Desmond Ernest HawkinsDesmond Ernest ('Ted')                    b: 27 Dec 1919                       r: 31 Jul 1974              d:  23 Oct 2017

CB -12 Jun 1971, CBE – 10 Jun 1967, DFC – 24 Apr 1942, Bar – 10 Nov 1942, MiD – 13 Jun 1957.

Act Plt Off: 7 May 1938, Plt Off: 7 Mar 1939, Fg Off: 3 Sep 1940, Flt Lt (WS): 3 Sep 1941, (T) Sqn Ldr: 1 Jan 1944, Act Wg Cdr: 14 Jul 1944, Sqn Ldr (WS): 14 Jan 1945, Sqn Ldr: 1 Aug 1947, Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1953, Act Gp Capt: 16 Jan 1961, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1962, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1966, Act AVM: 1 Mar 1969, AVM: 1 Jul 1969.

Desmond Ernest Hawkins

by Bassano Ltd
half-plate film negative, 17 June 1974
NPG x173250

© National Portrait Gallery, London

xx xxx 1937                   Rifleman, Territorial Army

 7 May 1938:               Appointed to a Short Service Commission.

 7 May 1938:              Initial Officer Training, RAF Depot.

21 May 1938:             U/T Pilot, No 2 FTS.

14 Dec 1938:              Pilot, No 1 Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit

xx xxx 1939:               Served in Coastal Command.

xx xxx xxxx:                Flight Commander, No 240 Sqn.

xx Dec 1942:              Officer Commanding (Temporary), No 36 Sqn.

xx Jan 1943:               Pilot/Flight Commander, No 36 Sqn?.

 7 Mr 1944:                Transferred to RAFO and called up for Service.

 6 Dec 1944:               Air Staff, HQ No 222 Group

xx Aug 1945:              Officer Commanding, No 230 Sqn. (Sunderland V)

2 Apr 1946:                Appointed to Permanent Commission in the rank of Flight Lieutenant (retaining rank current at the time). [effective 1 Sep 1945 antedated to 1 Dec 1942 on 25 Feb 1947]

xx Apr 1946:              Officer Commanding, RAF Pembroke Dock.

xx xxx 1947:               Commandant, Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment.

14 Sep 1947:              Staff Officer, Deputy Directorate of Organisation (Projects).

xx Jan 1950:                Attended RAF Staff College.

15 Jan 1951:               Air Staff, HQ Home Command

xx xxx xxxx:                Officer i/c Administration Wing, RAF Kinloss

17 Jan 1955:               Officer Commanding, No 38 Sqn (Shackleton MR2)

 1 Oct 1955:              

xx xxx 1957:               OC Flying, RAF Luqa.

xx xxx 1957:               Attended Joint Services Staff College.

xx xxx 1958:               Staff appointments?

18 Jul 1960:                 Air Staff, HQ No 19 Group.

16 Jan 1961:                SASO, HQ No 19 Group.

12 May 1964:              Officer Commanding, RAF Tengah.

xx Jan 1967:                Attended Imperial Defence College.

12 Jan 1968                 Officer Commanding, RAF Lyneham.

 1 Mar 1969                 SASO, HQ Strike Command.

 2 Sep 1971:                Director-General of RAF Personal Services.

Whilst serving in the Territorial Army, he was recruited to undertake an undercover mission to infiltrate the Hitler Youth, by joining the Youth Hostel Association and undertaking a 1,000 mile trek through Germany, staying at Youth hostels in the country.  He was even questioned by the Gestapo at one point, but fortunately they failed to find sketches he had made of the Krupp's Armament Works hidden in the lining of his rucksack.

On 3 April 1942, he arrived at Sullom Voe from where he carried out a long range mission on 4 April carrying a Norwegian officer, Captain Einar Sverdrup and Royal Navy officer, Lieutenant Alexander Glen.  The mission was intended to determine the extent of the sea ice between Jan Mayen Island and Spitzbergen.  He and his navigator, were awarded the DFC for this operation – see below.

No 36 Squadron was reformed, on paper, as a GR unit in the Indian Ocean area in October 1942.  However, with the arrival of it's first aircraft, Wellington IC's, Flight Lieutenant Hawkins took temporary command of the squadron  until the arrival of Wing Commander Mellor in January 1943.

Retiring at his own request, he became Deputy Managing Director of SKC in 1974 until 1980.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

“Flight Lieutenant Desmond Ernest HAWKINS  (40700), No.240 Squadron.

Pilot Officer Jerauld George WRIGHT (Can./J.15195), Royal Canadian Air Force, No.240 Squadron.

As captain of aircraft and navigator respectively, Flight Lieutenant Hawkins and Pilot Officer Wright recently carried out an extremely important mission.  The flight, which was of 24 hours duration, necessitated flying more than 2,000 miles across the sea.  That complete success was achieved despite adverse weather and intense cold can be attributed to the skilful piloting of Flight Lieutenant Hawkins, combined with the brilliant navigation of Pilot Officer Wright.  Throughout, both these officers showed great powers of endurance and their outstanding performance is worthy of the highest praise.”

(London Gazette – 24 April 1942)

This page was last updated on 09/02/24

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