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Air Chief Marshal Sir Derek Hodgkinson (39385)

Sir (William) Derek Hodgkinson(William) Derek                        b: 27 Dec 1917            r: 8 May 1976          d: 29 Jan 2010

KCB - 1 Jan 1971 (CB -1 Jan 1969), CBE – 1 Jan 1961, DFC – 17 Jan 1941, AFC – 1 Jan 1943, MiD - 28 Dec 1945.

Act Plt Off (P): 25 Jan 1937, Plt Off: 16 Nov 1937, Fg Off: 16 May 1939, Act Flt Lt: 3 Sep 1940, (T) Sqn Ldr: 1 Dec 1941, Flt Lt (PC): 10 Sep 1946 [1 Dec 1942], Sqn Ldr: 1 Aug 1947, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1952, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1958, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1963, Act AVM: 1 Apr 1966, AVM: 1 Jul 1966, AM: 1 Jul 1970, ACM: 22 Apr 1974.

Sir (William) Derek Hodgkinson

by Walter Bird
bromide print, 2 November 1966
NPG x168350

© National Portrait Gallery, London

25 Jan 1937:        Granted a Short Service Commission.

 6 Feb 1937:        U/T Pilot, No 11 Flying Training School.

 4 Sep 1937:        Pilot, No 220 Sqn.

23 Nov - xx xxx 1939:       Attached, RAF Leuchars

 3 Sep 1940:         Officer Commanding, 'A' Flight, No 220 Sqn.

xx Mar 1941:         Instructor, No 1 (C) OTU.

26 Jun 1942:        Prisoner of War.

xx Apr 1945:        Repatriated

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

xx Oct 1947:        Officer Commanding, No 210 Sqn.

xx Apr 1949:

xx xxx xxxx:          Directing Staff, Australian Joint Anti-Submarine School.

xx xxx xxxx:          Attended Joint Services Staff College.

xx xxx 1957:         Attended Shackleton Conversion Course, MOTU

 8 Aug 1957:        Officer Commanding, No 240 Sqn.

xx xxx 1958:         Officer Commanding, RAF St Mawgan.

 8 Mar 1960 – 23 Jul 1963:      ADC to The Queen.

20 Feb 1961:       Personal Staff Officer, Chief of the Defence Staff.

xx xxx 1964:         Attended Imperial Defence College.

 3 Mar 1965:        Commandant, RAF Staff College - Andover.

 1 Apr 1966:        Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Operational Requirements)

16 Jul 1969:         SASO, HQ Training Command

 2 Jun 1970:         Commander, British Forces Near East/AOC in C, Near East Air Force/ The Administrator, Sovereign Base Areas - Cyprus.

15 Oct 1973:        Air Secretary

He was shot down by a night fighter whilst flying Hudson I, P5147 on a diversionary raid as part of Bomber Command’s 1,000 Bomber raid against Bremen, and was wounded forcing him to ditch the aircraft, but only him and the navigator survived.  They managed to get into the aircraft dinghy and the following morning where washed ashore on a Dutch island and taken were prisoner.  After recovering he spent the rest of the war in Stalag Luft III, were he served as 'Big S' in charge of camp security and later was appointed camp adjutant.  On 28 January 1945, he began the ‘Long March’ when the Germans moved prisoners away from the advancing Russians.

In 1968, he chaired a committee looking into the Officer structure of the RAF which ultimately led to the abolition of the direct entry (Flight Cadet) scheme into Cranwell in favour of the graduate entry scheme.  It also led to the abolition of the Supplementary List.  As ACAS (OR), he was heavily involved in the initial negotiations which led to the Tornado.

From 1977 until 1986, he was a member of the Regular Forces Employment Association and held both the Vice-Chairmanship (1977 - 80) and Chairmanship (1980 - 82).

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

HODGKINSON, William Derek, F/L (39385, Royal Air Force) - No.220 Squadron - awarded as per London Gazette dated 17 January 1941.

"This officer has proved himself to be an exceptionally good leader and flight commander, accepting all tasks and completing them with thoroughness and perseverance, often in the face of difficult conditions.  On 15th November [1940] he pressed home an attack on a Heinkel 115 and finally destroyed it.  Flight Lieutenant Hodgkinson has completed 112 missions involving 403 hours operational flying over the North Sea - all in land type aircraft. He has displayed a high state of efficiency and set an excellent example to all."

(Source - Air 2/9251 and Air Ministry Bulletin 2784)

Citation for the award of the Air Force Cross

HODGKINSON, William Derek, S/L, DFC (39385, Royal Air Force) - awarded as per London Gazette dated 1 January 1943.  Citation in Public Record Office (courtesy of Steve Brew); reported as missing and a prisoner of war..

 "This officer was appointed flying instructor to No.1 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit in March 1941 and displayed such ability that he was promoted to officer commanding, Conversion Training Squadron, having under his command 22 instructor pilots and approximately 50 pilots at one time.  Squadron Leader Hodkinson is an extremely good pilot and, by his example, he instilled in his pupils a fine spirit of determination, dash and aggression, tempered with sound common sense.  He has flown 1,725 hours on all types and during the 15 months at No.1 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit he flew 535 hours."

(Source - Air 2/8871)

 Recommendation for the award of a Mentioned in Despatches

HODGKINSON, William Derek, A/S/L, DFC, AFC (39385, Royal Air Force) awarded as per London Gazette dated 28 December 1945.  Although put up for an OBE, the War Office suggested a MiD because he has been a prisoner (or SBO) only a relatively short time.

 "This officer took a very keen interest in the administration of prison camp while he was a prisoner of war in Germany.  He was especially capable in creating and maintaining good discipline.  During one of the forced marches, when the prison camps were evacuated from Darmstadt to Lubeck, Squadron Leader Hodgkinson's commanding officer made contact with a newly- formed prisoner of war camp at Pinneberg and was able to arrange certain changes for the benefit of the prisoners of this camp.  It was necessary to complete these arrangements secretly because of jealousy and "red tape" in the German organizations.  Despite the risk involved, Squadron Leader Hodgkinson volunteered to be transferred unofficially to Pinneberg with a view to becoming Senior British Officer of the new camp.  The transfer took place successfully, with the connivance of some Luftwaffe officers, and Squadron Leader Hodgkinson was afterwards able to improve the conditions at Pinneberg very considerably.  In every way, he showed himself to be a most loyal, capable and courageous officer."

(Source - Air 2/9104)

This page was last updated on 23/10/22

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