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Air Vice Marshal T C Traill (04245)


Thomas Cathcart TraillThomas Cathcart                b: 6 Aug 1899              r: 21 Sep 1954                     d: 1 Oct 1973

CB - 1 Jan 1948, OBE - 11 Jul 1940, DFC - 8 Feb 1919, MiD - 2 Jun 1943, MiD - 8 Jun 1944, LoM (O) - 11 Apr 1944, MA - 1924.

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

(RN): Mid'n: 2 Aug 1914.

(Army):- 3AM: 11 Jun 1917, (T) 2 Lt (P): 11 Oct 1917, (T) 2 Lt: 18 Mar 1918.

(RAF):- Lt: 1 Apr 1918, (T) Capt: 28 Sep 1918, Fg Off: 1 Aug 1919?, Flt Lt: 1 Jul 1925, Sqn Ldr: 1 Dec 1934, Wg Cdr: 1 Jul 1938, (T) Gp Capt: 1 Dec 1940, Act A/Cdre: 21 Feb 1943, (T) A/Cdre: 1 Jun 1943, Gp Capt (WS): 21 Aug 1943, Gp Capt: 1 Dec 1943, Act AVM: 1 Sep 1945 - 18 Apr 1946; 5 May 1946?, A/Cdre (WS): 17 Sep 1946, A/Cdre: 1 Oct 1946, AVM: 1 Jan 1949.

Thomas Cathcart Traill

by Walter Stoneman
bromide print, 5 July 1946
NPG x185730

© National Portrait Gallery, London

xx May 1912:          Attended Training Establishments

 2 Aug 1914:           Midshipman, HMS Lord Nelson.

11 Jun 1917:            Cadet, RFC.

11 Oct 1917:           Appointed Flying Officer

 8 May 1918:           Embarked for France

17 May 1918:          Pilot, No 20 Sqn RFC.

28 Sep 1918:           Flight Commander, No 20 Sqn. (Bristol F2B)

 6 Jan 1919:             Returned to Home Establishment

xx xxx 1919:            Assistant Air Attaché, Washington.

18 May 1920:          Staff, Instrument Design Establishment (Home).

20 Jan 1922:            Pilot, Experimental Section, RAE.

 1 Oct 1922:            Attended Cambridge University.

15 Sep 1924:           Aircraft Engineering Course, Inland Area Aircraft Depot.

10 Aug 1925:           Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

29 Sep 1925:           Staff, Aircraft Depot, Iraq.

31 Mar 1928:          QFI, Cambridge University Air Sqn.

19 Oct 1931:           Pilot, No 58 Sqn.

 8 Jan 1932:             'B' Flight Commander, No 12 Sqn. (arrived 4 Jan 1932)

23 Jan 1933:            Attended RAF Staff College.

 8 Mar 1934:            QFI, No 4 FTS.

16 Aug 1935:           Officer Commanding, No 14 Sqn.

10 May 1938:         Officer Commanding, RAF Helwan.

xx xxx 1938:            Supernumerary, No 1 RAF Depot

26 Sep 1938:           Air Staff, HQ No 2 (Bomber) Group.

14 May 1940:          Assistant SASO, HQ Bomber Command.

xx xxx 1941:            Officer Commanding, RAF Middleton St. George.

xx xxx 1941:            SASO, HQ No 242 Group.

12 - 26 Jan 1943:           Officer Commanding No 322 Wing (Temporary)

 8 Mar 1943:           SASO, HQ North-West African Air Forces.

28 Feb 1944:           Director of Air Tactics.

xx xxx 1944:            RAF Liaison Officer, HQ 8th USAAF

 1 Sep 1945:           AOC, No 83 Group 

 5 May 1946:           AOC, No 12 Group.

25 Apr 1949:           Director-General of Personnel (II).

18 Feb 1952:           AOC, No 19 (Reconnaissance) Group.

Educated at Osbourne and Dartmouth, he went to sea in HMS Lord Nelson in 1914 and later took part in the Dardanelles Operations as a Naval Cadet and Midshipman.  However, he was ordered to be withdrawn as the result of 'indecent behaviour' on board the ship in early 1917 and later joined the RFC.  Posted to No 20 Squadron flying Bristol F2B’s, he amassed a score of eight enemy aircraft by the end of the war, by which time he had risen to flight commander.  He had a number of narrow escapes including having his observer killed shortly after he had warned Traill of the attack and losing the lower portion of his wing following a collision with another Bristol.  On this occasion he was saved by his observer climbing out onto the other wing to balance the aircraft resulting in the aircraft partially recovering before crashing.  His observer was thrown clear but broke his nose in the fall whilst Traill was uninjured.

On 18 July 1932, he was flying Hawker Hart K2425 of No 12 Squadron and shortly after taking off as the formation was climbing through cloud when another aircraft, K1442 collided with him removing his tail unit completely.  However, both he and his air gunner, Corporal Clemo were able to evacuate the aircraft immediately by parachute, making a safe landing.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

"Lieut. (A./Capt.) Thomas Cathcart Traill. (FRANCE)

An officer of marked skill .and bravery, who has shot down three enemy machines and seriously damaged a fourth. On 23rd October his machine accidentally collided with one of ours at a height of 7,000 feet, and a part of the left plane was carried away, the machine being thereby rendered out of control.  With great presence of mind Captain Traill ordered his observer to climb out and so directed him to balance the machine which enabled him to obtain partial control.  Displaying rare skill and determination, he managed to land his damaged machine safely."

(London Gazette – 8 February 1918)

This page was last updated on 31/10/20

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