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Air Marshal Sir Rochford Hughes (40784)

(Sidney Weetman) Rochford    

b: 25 Oct 1914                 r: 8 Jul 1969                d: 17 Sep 1996

KCB 1 Jan 1967 (CB - 1 Jan 1964), CBE 9 Jun 1955 (OBE 14 May 1942), AFC 1 Jan 1947, MiD 1 Jan 1945, DFC (G)  - 29 Dec 1942, FRAeS.  

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

Plt Off (P): 1 Jun 1938, Plt Off: 1 Jun 1939?, Fg Off: 1 Dec 1939, Flt Lt: 1 Dec 1940, (T) Sqn Ldr: 1 Dec 1941, Act Wg Cdr: 29 Dec 1942?, Sqn Ldr (WS): 29 Jun 1943, Sqn Ldr: 26 Mar 1946 [1 Sep 1945], Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1947, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1954, Act A/Cdre: xx xxx xxxx, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1960, Act AVM: 27 Jan 1962, AVM: 1 Jul 1962, Act AM: 8 Aug 1966, AM: 1 Jan 1967.   

 1 Jun 1938:             Granted Short Service Commission.

 1 Jun 1938:             Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

15 Jun 1938:            Pilot, No 103 Sqn.

11 Feb 1939:           Supernumerary - Under instruction, RAF Calshot

 9 Jul 1939               Pilot, No 230 Sqn. (Sunderland)

28 Dec 1942:           Attended Course No 8, Middle East Staff School, Haifa.

27 Mar 1943:           Air Staff, HQ Middle East Command.

 1 Jun 1943:             Transferred to RAFO and called up for service

xx Sep 1945:            Officer Commanding, No 511 Sqn.

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

15 Oct 1946:           Training Staff, HQ Transport Command

xx xxx 1948:            Chief of Operations, USAF All Weather Centre.

xx xxx 1949:            Assistant Director of Training (All Weather Flying)

 6 Dec 1950:           Deputy Director of Operational Requires (B)

xx xxx xxxx:             Officer Commanding, RAE Farnborough.

xx xxx 1955:            Attended Imperial Defence College.

xx Dec 1955:            Officer Commanding, RAF Jever, Germany.

xx xxx 1959:            Air  Member & Chairman, Defence Resolutions Policy Staff.

27 Jan 1962:            AOC, No 19 (Reconnaissance) Group.

xx xxx 1964:            Deputy Controller Aircraft (RAF), Ministry of Aviation.

 8 Aug 1966:            C in C, Far East Air Force.

A son of a Master Mariner, he attended Waitaki Boy's High School before joining the Editorial staff of the "New Zealand Herald" in 1933.  Leaving the newspaper industry in 1937, he joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force, but due to the small size of the RNZAF at the time, he was transferred, like many others, to the RAF.  Arriving in Britain in 1938 he was commissioned as a  and joined No 103 Squadron at Usworth, County Durham flying Hawker Hinds.  The squadron soon re-equipped with the new Fairey Battle.

In December 1941, he collected a crew from No 40 Squadron, who had crash landed a week earlier from Tobruk to fly them back to Malta.  However, the Sunderland was soon attacked by two Bf110's which inflicted severe damage.  One the Wellington's crew was killed and the Wellington's gunner replaced one of the Sunderland's gunners who was wounded.  With both starboard engines out, Flight Lieutenant Hughes had no option, but to alight near Benghazi.  Blown onto the shore, they met Italian troops retreating, and joined them, but after two days, they decided to march the other way in the hope of meeting allied troops advancing towards them.  During their march east, they met a number of Italians who wished to surrender and by the time they met up with troops of the 4th Indian Division, they had 130 Italian prisoners in tow, whom they were pleased to hand over.

He stayed in the Far East following his retirement from the RAF acting as Air Adviser to the Government of Singapore a post he held for three years.  Returning to New Zealand, he sat on the Boards of a number of companies such as Mazda Motors NZ (Chairman 1972 - 87), NZ Steel (Director 1973 - 84), General Accident (Director 1975 - 84) and Reserve Bank NZ (Director 1974 - 77) to name just a few. He also a Liveryman of the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators.

Citation for the award of the OBE

Squadron Leader Sidney Weetman Rochford Hughes (40784).

One night in December, 1941, this officer was flying a Sunderland aircraft in the Mediterranean area, when it was attacked by 2 enemy fighters.  One of the attackers was probably destroyed but Squadron Leader Hughes' aircraft sustained damage to the aileron control, and two engines were put out of action.  The aircraft lost height rapidly but, with great skill, this officer succeeded in turning it into the wind and finally, descended safely on the water.  Heavy seas were running but, although one wing tip float was smashed, he managed to steer the aircraft on to a nearby reef in such a way that the crew were able to escape from the aircraft into much calmer water.  Observing one of his comrades, who had been swept from the main plane into the sea, in an exhausted condition and in difficulties, Squadron Leader Hughes immediately dived into the water and brought his comrade to safety after swimming some 30-yards through the heavy seas.  His action  undoubtedly saved the life of his comrade.  Throughout, this officer displayed exceptional courage and leadership.

(London Gazette 14 May 1942)

Recommendation for the award of the Air Force Cross

"HUGHES, Sidney Weetman Rochford, W/C, OBE (40784) No.511 Squadron, RAF Lyneham. 

Wing Commander Hughes took command of No.511 Squadron in September, 1945.  In spite of many difficulties he has built up an impressive record of achievement.  A total of 29,000 hours have been flown by the Squadron on schedule trunk routes alone and, in addition, many special Flights were undertaken, the Singapore and Solomon route being opened to monsoon weather.   The squadron also inaugurated the first crew slipping schedules in the R.A.F., and for over six months worked at a high pitch in the R.A.F., and for over six months worked at a high pitch of intensity, operating fourteen trunk route services weekly.  This record has been due very largely to the leadership and organizing ability of Wing Commander Hughes.  His experience, scrupulous attention to detail, and his insistence for a high standard of personal and flying discipline from all members of the squadron have earned for the unit a reputation for efficiency.  An example of his leadership occurred in March, 1946 when a fully laden York aircraft in which he was traveling as a supernumerary member of the crew, had the undercarriage severely damaged during a night take-off from Malta.  Wing Commander Hughes immediately took command of the aircraft and, by his example and attention to every detail concerning the seven hours until he successfully landed the aircraft, wheels up, without any injury to personnel and very little damage to the aircraft."

(Recommended when he had flown 2,050 hours, 400 on current duties, 175 in past six months.)

This page was last updated on 03/02/24

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