Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation


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Overseas Commands - Europe


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HQ Royal Air Force

St Andre-aux-bois; Cologne. (from 7 May 1919); Rear HQ - Wimereux (from 7 Jul 1919)

Formed 1 Apr 1918 from HQ RFC. Renamed RAF Rhine xx xxx 1918?

General Officer Commanding: -

1 Apr 1918             Maj-Gen Sir John Salmond


Independent Force

Formed 6 Jun 1918 by renaming 41st Wing. Renamed Inter-Allied Independent Force, 26 Oct 1918. Disbanded, xx xxx 1918?.

General Officers Commanding: -

6 Jun 1918             Maj-Gen Sir Hugh Trenchard

20 Nov 1918?        Brig-Gen C L Courtney


HQ RAF in France and Flanders

Wimereux, France

Formed xx xxx 1919 by renaming Rear HQ RAF. Disbanded xx May 1920

Officer Commanding: -

xx xxx 1919            Lt Col/Wg Cdr G B Hynes

Listings of units and personnel controlled by this Command available in the Member Areas


RAF Rhine

Bickendorf, Germany

Formed xx xxx 1918 by renaming HQ Royal Air Force. Disbanded 2 Oct 1919. Continued to be listed in AFL until at least Jul 1922.

General Officers Commanding: -

4 Jan 1919             Maj-Gen Sir John Higgins

7 May 1919           Maj-Gen Sir John Salmond

19 Aug 1919

xx xxx xxxx             OC, No 12 Sqn?

Listings of units and personnel controlled by this Command available in the Member Areas


Air Component of the British Expeditionary Force

Formed xx Aug 1939 from a nucleus of No 22 (Army Co-operation) Group.  By 10 May 1940 it had been divided into two HQs - RAF Component HQ (Administration) was based at Maroeuil, whilst RAF Component HQ (Operational) was based at Arras.

Following the German breakout from the Ardennes on 13 May, they had reached Abbeville on 19/20th, trapping the BEF, including the two RAF HQs, in a constantly shrinking pocket, thereby forcing the HQs to remain on the move, as follows: -

While this sector was in retreat a new unit RAF Component HQ (South), was forming close to Rouen Boos

Following its formal disbandment on 26 May 1940 a nucleus remained in being for closing down purposes, which disbanded on 24 July 1940.

Air Officer Commanding: -

xx Aug 1939             AVM C H B Blount


Advanced Air Striking Force

This was formed on 24 August 1939 from No 1 (Bomber) Group for service on the Continent, it returned to the UK following the fall of France and was located at Bridgnorth, where it disbanded on 24 June 1940.

Air Officer Commanding: -

24 Aug 1939             AVM P H L Playfair


British Air Forces in France

This was formed on 15 January 1940 to control both the AASF and the Air Component, absorbing the existing No 1 and 2 Air Missions. It was composed of four separate parts: -

All RAF units in the Base Area ceased to be administered by HQ AASF and were transferred to the control of HQ No 2 Base Area, these being: -

On its return from France the AOC-in-C and his staff settled at Andover whilst the remainder of the HQ went to Bridgnorth, where it disbanded on 24 June 1940, followed by the closing down party disbanding on 8 July 1940.

Air Officer Commanding- in-Chief: -

15 Jan 1940             AM Sir Arthur Barratt


'South Violet Force'

This was formed on 25 May 1940 under te control of HQ, BAFF with te same status as HQ AASF.  It was composed of the following units: -

It fate is unknown, but probably disbanded following the fall of France.


RAF Iceland

Formed 2 Jul 1941 by raising No 30 Wing to Command status within Coastal Command.  Disbanded xx Jul 1945.

Air Officers Commanding: -

xx xxx xxxx:              A/Cdre W H Primrose 

20 Sep 1943:            A/Cdre C G Wigglesworth

 4 Jan 1945:              A/Cdre G H Boyce

Listings of units and personnel controlled by this Command available in the Member Areas


RAF Element, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF)

This was formed on 1 February 1944 and was temporarily located in Room 129, Norfolk House, St James's Square, London, SW1.  It was administered by No 240 MU at Chessington.  By March it had moved to its new location at No 1 APDC, London, W1.


Allied Expeditionary Air Force

Formed 15 Nov 1943 to control all Allied air operations in connection with Operation 'Overlord'. Disbanded 15 Oct 1944.

Air Officer Commanding: -

15 Nov 1943             ACM Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory

Listings of units and personnel controlled by this Command available in the Member Areas


2nd Tactical Air Force

This was formed on 1 June 1943 as HQ Tactical Air Force from Army Co-operation Command to control all tactical air assets in connection with Operation 'Overlord'. It was subordinated to HQ AEAF on  15 November 1943 and from 1 February 1944 had its Main HQ (operational matters) at RAF Uxbridge and its Rear HQ (administrative matters) at RAF Bracknell. It was renamed British Air Forces of Occupation on 15 July 1945.

It reformed on 1 September 1951 by redesignating British Forces of Occupation and was renamed RAF Germany on 1 January 1959.

Air Officers Commanding: -

1 Jun 1943               AM Sir John D'Albiac

21 Jan 1944             AM Sir Arthur Coningham

15 Jul 1945              Renamed BAFO

1 Sep 1951              AM Sir Thomas Williams

1 Oct 1951              ACM Sir Robert Foster

 3 Dec 1953             AM Sir Harry Broadhurst

22 Jan 1956             AM The Earl of Bandon

 1 Jun 1957              AM Sir John Edwardes-Jones

Listings of units and personnel controlled by this Command available in the Member Areas


British Air Forces of Occupation

Formed 15 Jul 1945 by renaming 2nd Tactical Air Force. Renamed 2nd Tactical Air Force, 1 Sep 1951.

Air Officers Commanding-in-Chief: -

15 Jul 1945             ACM Sir Sholto Douglas

1 Feb 1946             AM Sir Philip Wigglesworth

30 Oct 1948           AM Sir Thomas Williams


RAF Germany

Formed 1 Jan 1959 by renaming 2nd Tactical Air Force. The C-in-C also held the NATO post of Commander, 2nd Allied Tactical Air Force.  It was redesignated as No 2 Group within Strike Command, 1 Apr 1993.

Air Officers Commanding-in-Chief: -

 1 Jan 1959                AM Sir John Edwardes-Jones

 7 Jan 1961                AM Sir John Grandy

25 Jun 1963               AM Sir Ronald Lees

 6 Dec 1965               AM Sir Denis Spotswood

16 Jul 1968                AM Christopher Foxley-Norris

10 Nov 1970             AM Harold Martin

 4 Apr 1973               AM Nigel Maynard

19 Jan 1976               AM Sir Michael Beetham

25 Jul 1977                AM Sir John Stacey

30 Apr 1979              AM Sir Peter Terry

 2 Feb 1981               AM Sir Jock Kennedy

 9 Apr 1983               AM Sir Patrick Hine

 1 Jul 1985                 AM Sir David Parry-Evans

13 Apr 1987              AM Sir Anthony Skingsley

14 Apr 1989              AM Sir Roger Palin

22 Apr 1991              AM Sir Andrew Wilson


This page was last updated on 09/07/24

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