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Air Marshal Sir Peter Horsley (63462)

(Beresford) Peter Torrington            

b: 26 Mar 1921                     r: 2 Aug 1975                     d: 20 Dec 2001

KCB 15 Jun 1974, CBE 13 Jun 1964, LVO 2 Jan 1956 (As MVO 4th), AFC 1 Jan 1946, MiD - 1 Jan 1945, C de G (F) - xx xxx 1944, OC - xx xxx xxxx, ONS - xx xxx xxxx, OM (E) - xx xxx xxxx.  

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

Plt Off: 8 Apr 1941, Fg Off: 8 Oct 1941?, Flt Lt (WS): 8 Apr 1943, Sqn Ldr: 1 Jul 1949, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1955, Act Gp Capt: 7 Dec 1959, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1960, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1965, AVM: 1 Jan 1968, Act AM: 10 Mar 1973, AM: 1 Jul 1973.

xx xxx xxxx:            U/T Pilot, ?

xx xxx 1941:           QFI, No 12 SFTS, RAF Cranwell

xx xxx xxxx:            QFI, No ? FTS, Canada

xx xxx 1943:           Attended Mosquito Conversion Unit

xx xxx 1943:           Pilot, No 21 Squadron (Mosquito Hunsdon, Thorney Island)

xx xxx 1944:           Recuperating

xx xxx xxxx:            Pilot, No ? Squadron (Communications)

xx xxx xxxx:            QFI?, Central Flying School.

xx Sep 1944:           Pilot, 2nd TAF Communication Wing

 1 Jul 1946:            Appointed to Permanent Commission in the rank of Flight Lieutenant (retaining rank current at the time). [wef 1 Sep 1945]

xx xxx 1948:           Adjutant, Oxford University Air Squadron.

 2 Aug 1949:           Air Staff, HQ No 65 Group

 2 Aug 1949:           Appointed Extra Equerry to Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh

21 Nov 1949:          Air Staff, HQ No 11 Group

30 Jun 1952:           Officer Commanding, No 29 Sqn 

5 Aug  1952:          Appointed Equerry (Temporary)  to Queen Elizabeth

11 May 1953:         Equerry to Prince Philip

10 Jan 1957:           Officer Commanding, No 9 Sqn.

17 Feb 1958:          Attended RAF Staff College?

 7 Dec 1959:           Officer Commanding, RAF Wattisham.

25 Mar 1962:          Group Captain - Operations, HQ NEAF.

10 Nov 1962:          Officer Commanding, RAF Akrotiri.

 1 May 1966:          Deputy Commandant, Joint Warfare Establishment.

 1 May 1968:          Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Operations).

 8 Feb 1971:           AOC, No 1 Group.

10 Mar 1973:          Deputy AOC in C, Strike Command.

Joining the RAF in 1940 after attending Wellington College and a period in the Merchant Navy, he was commissioned in 1941.  Retained as an instructor, first at Cranwell and later in Canada, it was 1943 before he was able to begin operations.  Having converted to the Mosquito, he joined No 21 Squadron and began intruder operations operations with Fighter Command and later 2nd TAF.  Operating over the Normandy beach-head, his Mosquito was hit , forcing him to ditch in the sea off Cherbourg.  He spent three days and night adrift until rescued by an ASR launch, unfortunately his navigator failed to bail out and was killed.  

Having recovered, he tried to get back to operations, but his request was denied and he joined a communications unit in France, remaining on these duties until the end of the war.  He then returned to instructional duties, this time training instructors at the Central Flying School.  He was also awarded a permanent commission at this time.  His next appointment kept him in the training field, with him becoming the adjutant of the Oxford University Air Squadron.  In 1949, he was appointed Equerry to Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip and with the Princess became Queen Elizabeth II, he became her Equerry for a year before becoming the Duke of Edinburgh's a year later.

He returned to normal duties in 1957 and was given command of No 9 Squadron, a Canberra bomber unit based at Binbrook.  He later commanded the RAF Stations at Wattisham and Akrotiri before becoming Commandant of the Joint Warfare Establishment at Old Sarum.  In 1968, he went to work in Whitehall for the first time, as  ACAS (Operations) and three years later he became AOC, No 1 Group.  His final appointment was as  Deputy AOC-in-C, Strike Command

After retiring from the RAF he held a number of directorships including Chairman, National Printing Inks Ltd (1987 - ), Horsley Holdings (1985 - ) and Osprey Aviation Ltd ( 1991- ).  A keen philatelist, he was chairman of the stamp auction house Robson Lowe, and also managing director of Stanley Gibbons. 

Citation for the award of the Air Force Cross

"HORSLEY, Beresford Peter Torrington, F/L (63462, RAFVR) - Second Tactical Air Force Communications Wing.

This officer joined the wing in September 1944.  Since then he has completed over 300 hours flying.  He served for a short time as a general communication pilot until, on account of his outstanding skill, he was selected as personal pilot to the Major General in charge of Administration, 21 Army Group.  In this capacity, Flight Lieutenant Horsley has consistently displayed his skill in conveying personal passengers or other very important persons on important missions.  He has shown great persistence in completing his flights, often in most adverse weather conditions.  His skill and devotion to duty have been outstanding."

(Source - Air 2/9144, drafted when he had flown 1,851 hours, 300 on current duties, 211 in previous six months.)

This page was last updated on 01/02/24

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