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Marshal of the RAF Sir Andrew Humphrey (33543)

Sir Andrew Henry HumphreyAndrew Henry              b:  10 Jan 1921                                                                        d:  24 Jan 1977

GCB – 1 Jan 1974 (KCB – 8 Jun 1968, CB – 13 Jun 1959), OBE – 1 Jan 1951, DFC – 30 May 1941, AFC – 1 Jun 1943, Bar – 1 Jan 1945, Bar - 9 Jun 1955, ADC, MiD - 23 Jan 1968.  

Plt Off  (P): 30 Apr 1940, Plt Off:  1 May 1940, Fg Off:  1 May 1941, Act Flt Lt: 17 Aug 1941, Flt Lt (WS): 1 May 1942, Act Sqn Ldr: 15 Oct 1943, Act Wg Cdr: 20 Aug 1944, Sqn Ldr (WS): 20 Feb 1945, Act Sqn Ldr: 21 Aug 1946, Flt Lt: 21 May 1946 [7 Sep 1943], Sqn Ldr:  1 Aug 1947, Wg Cdr:  1 Jul 1951, Gp Capt:  1 Jul 1957, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1962, AVM: 1 Jan 1965, Act AM: 18 Mar 1968, AM: 1 Jan 1969, ACM: 1 Dec 1970, MRAF: 6 Aug 1976.

Sir Andrew Henry Humphrey

by Walter Bird
bromide print, 24 August 1965
NPG x168482

© National Portrait Gallery, London

12 Jan 1939:    Flight Cadet, 'B' Sqn, RAF College.

30 Apr 1940:   Appointed to a Permanent Commission

 4 May 1940:   Staff pilot, No 9 Bombing and Gunnery School.

xx Sep 1940:    Attended No 7 OTU.

16 Sep 1940:   Pilot, No 266 Sqn.

19 Jul 1941:     Pilot, No 452 Sqn.

17 Aug 1941:   Instructor, No 58 OTU.

 3 Apr 1942:    Flight Commander, No 175 Sqn

13 Jul 1942:     Instructor, No 58 OTU.

xx Sep 1942    Attached to No 3 Flying Instructors' School, RAF Hullavington

 3 Jan 1943:     Instructor, Specialised Low Attack Instructor's School, Milfield.

12 Apr 1943:   Specialised Low Attack Instructor, RAF Middle East.

19 Jul 1943:     Flight Commander, No 6 Sqn.

10 Jan 1944:    Instructor, No 5 Middle East Training School, RAF Shallufa.

29 Jun 1944:    Staff, RAF Nicosia.

20 Nov 1944:  Staff, RAF Ranchi.

 4 Aug 1945:    Air Staff, HQ British Air Forces South East Asia.

21 Aug 1946:   Air Staff, HQ No 106 Group/Central Photographic Establishment

 1 Sep 1948:    Flight Commander, No 82 Sqn.

28 May 1951:  Instructor, RAF Flying College.

16 Feb 1953:   Senior Instructor, RAF Flying College.

10 Jan 1955:    Attended RAF Staff College, Bracknell.

 1 Feb 1956:    OR20, Directorate of Operational Requirements.

18 Jan 1957:    Deputy Director, Directorate of Operational Requirements (B).

10 Feb 1959:   Officer Commanding, RAF Akrotiri

 8 Jan 1962:     Attended Imperial Defence College

26 Nov 1962:  Director of Joint Plans.

 1 Apr 1964:    Director Defence Plans (Air).

1 Dec 1964:     Special Duties/Refresher Flying Course.

15 Dec 1965:   AOC, Air Forces Middle East

18 Mar 1968:  Air Member for Personnel

 5 Jan 1971:     AOC in C, Strike Command/Commander, UK Air Defence Region

31 Mar 1974 - 6 Aug 1976:    Air ADC to The Queen

 1 Apr 1974:    Chief of the Air Staff  

24 Oct 1976:   Chief of the Defence Staff.

Graduating from the RAF College at Cranwell in 1940 and following a gunnery course he was soon operating with No 266 Sqn flying Spitfires during the Battle of Britain.  In 1941 he joined the recently formed No 452 at Kenley but had been with them a month when he was  promoted to Flight Lieutenant and posted as an instructor to No 58 OTU at Grangemouth near Edinburgh.   A short return to operations followed in early 1942 with No 175 Squadron where he flew Hurricanes in the fighter-bomber role before resuming his instructional duties at Grangemouth.  Attending a course as a ground attack instructor he then proceeded overseas to the Middle East in that capacity.   Six months with No 6 Squadron as a flight commander turned out to be his final operational posting and he spent the remainder of WW2 in staff posts in the Middle East and later India.  His total score as a fighter pilot stood at seven confirmed destroyed and two probables.

Returning to Britain in 1946, he initially joined the staff of No 106 (Photo-Recce) Group in Coastal Command before joining No 82 (PR) Squadron.  It was during this period that he took part in the aerial survey of Africa carried out by 82.  The experience gained during the aerial survey was then put to good use when he was appointed as an instructor at the RAF Flying College.  It was whilst serving there in 1953 that he flew Canberra 'Aries IV' from London to Cape Town establishing a new record.  He created RAF history  on 14 October 1954 when he made the first RAF (jet) flight to the North Pole, again in 'Aries IV'.

On completion of the course at the RAF Staff College, he was appointed Deputy Director of Operational Requirements with one of his main responsibilities being the introduction into service of the Lightning, the RAF's first supersonic interceptor.  For his work in this post he was awarded the CB, quite a achievement for a group captain.  His next posting was to Cyprus and command of RAF Akrotiri returning to the Imperial Defence College  in 1962.  He was made Director of Joint Plans at the Air Ministry and in 1964 with the formation of the unified Ministry of Defence, he became Director of Defence Plans (Air).  Posted to Aden as AOC, Air Forces Middle East, he oversaw the RAF  withdrawal from the region in 1968 after which he returned to Britain and joined the Air Council as Air Member for Personnel. 

In 1971 he was given the ultimate operational command in the RAF 1971 when he was appointed AOC in C, Strike Command after which he became Chief of the Air Staff.  During his tenure as CAS, he introduced the Graduate entry scheme to Cranwell proposed by Hodgkinson's committee in 1968.    Appointed Chief of the Defence Staff and promoted Marshal of the RAF in August 1976, he only served for three months before being taken ill.  He died shortly afterwards in the RAF Hospital, Halton.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

“Pilot Officer Andrew Henry HUMPHREY (33543) No 266 Squadron.

This officer has performed splendid work as a night fighter pilot.  One night in May, 1941 he pursued an enemy bomber at a height of 20,000 feet and finally shot it down in the vicinity of an aerodrome off the Dutch or Belgian coast.  Shortly afterwards, he observed another enemy aircraft taking off from the aerodrome and, diving down to 50 feet, he destroyed it.  Although heavily attacked by the ground defences, Pilot Officer Humphrey succeeded in flying clear and later attacked an enemy fighter.  He was compelled to break off this engagement after one attack as his ammunition was expended.  Two nights previously, he destroyed an enemy bomber from close  range.  He has displayed great keenness on all occasions.”

 (London Gazette – 30 May 1941)

Citation for the award of the Air Force Cross

"HUMPHREY, Andrew Henry, A/F/L, DFC (33543, Royal Air Force) - No.58 Operational Training Unit.

Flight Lieutenant Humphrey joined No.58 Operational Training Unit in August 1941 as a flying instructor and has been flight commander since November of that year, except for a second tour of operational duties between April and July 1942.  Both as an instructor and flight commander, this officer has always shown exceptional keenness and ability and it is largely due to his energy and example that the instructional flying times shown by his flight have increased throughout the year."

(Source - Air 2/8871)

Citation for the award of the Bar to the Air Force Cross

"HUMPHREY, Andrew Henry, A/S/L, DFC, AFC (33543, Royal Air Force) - RAF Station Shallufa

This officer arrived at No.5 METS in December 1943 to institute Rocket Projectile training on Beaufighters.  He was responsible for the conversion to Rocket Projectiles of No.16 South African Air Force Squadron and also No.252 and 603 Squadrons.  He is a brilliant pilot who has done valuable research flying in Beaufighter Rocket Projectile duties as well as continuing experiments with Hurricanes.  He has proved that night firing from a Hurricane presented no difficulty although this had previously been ruled out in the United Kingdom.  Squadron Leader Humphrey's work in the development of Rocket Projectile training has been of the greatest value and the successes obtained on operations by units in the Middle East with this weapon are in no small measure due to the excellence of his training."

(Source - Air 2/9036, drafted when he had flown 797 hours (69 in previous six months)

This page was last updated on 19/12/23

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