Harry Cobby

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Arthur Henry (Harry) Cobby
Harrycobby (AWM A03697).jpg
Captain Harry Cobby in 1919
Born26 August 1894
Prahran, Victoria
Died11 November 1955(1955-11-11) (aged 61)
Heidelberg, Victoria
AllegianceAustralia
Service/branch Royal Australian Air Force
Years of service1912–46
Rank Air Commodore
Unit No. 4 Squadron AFC (1917–18)
Commands held No. 1 Squadron (1925–26)
No. 3 Squadron (1930–31)
North-Eastern Area Command (1942–43)
First Tactical Air Force (1944–45)
Battles/warsWorld War I

World War II

Awards Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Flying Cross & Two Bars
George Medal
Mentioned in Despatches
Medal of Freedom (United States)
Other work Department of Civil Aviation
  • Regional Director (1947–54)
  • Director, Flying Operations (1955)

Air Commodore Arthur Henry Cobby, CBE , DSO , DFC & Two Bars , GM (26 August 1894 – 11 November 1955) was an Australian military aviator. He was the leading fighter ace of the Australian Flying Corps during World War I, with 29 victories, in spite of the fact that he saw active service for less than a year.

Distinguished Flying Cross (United Kingdom) military decoration of the United Kingdom

The Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) is the third-level military decoration awarded to officers, and since 1993 to other ranks, of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and other services, and formerly to officers of other Commonwealth countries, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy".

Medal bar

A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It most commonly indicates the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the recipient has met the criteria for receiving the medal in multiple theatres.

George Medal British award

The George Medal (GM), instituted on 24 September 1940 by King George VI, is a decoration of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, awarded for gallantry "not in the face of the enemy" where the services were not so outstanding as to merit the George Cross.

Contents

Born and educated in Melbourne, Cobby was a bank clerk when war broke out, and was prevented by his employer from enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force until 1916. After completing flight training in England, he served on the Western Front with No. 4 Squadron AFC, operating Sopwith Camels. His achievements as a fighter pilot were recognised with the Distinguished Service Order, the Distinguished Flying Cross and two bars, and a mention in despatches.

Melbourne City in Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of 2,080 km2 (800 sq mi), comprising a metropolitan area with 31 municipalities, and is also the common name for its city centre. The city occupies much of the coastline of Port Phillip bay and spreads into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. It has a population of 5 million, and its inhabitants are referred to as "Melburnians".

First Australian Imperial Force Australian Army expeditionary force during World War I

The First Australian Imperial Force was the main expeditionary force of the Australian Army during World War I. It was formed on 15 August 1914, following Britain's declaration of war on Germany, initially with a strength of one infantry division and one light horse brigade. The infantry division subsequently fought at Gallipoli between April and December 1915, being reinforced by a second division which was later raised, as well as three light horse brigades. After being evacuated to Egypt the AIF was expanded to five infantry divisions, which were committed to the fighting in France and Belgium along the Western Front in March 1916. A sixth infantry division was partially raised in 1917 in the United Kingdom, but was broken up and used as reinforcements following heavy casualties on the Western Front. Meanwhile, two mounted divisions remained in the Middle East to fight against Turkish forces in the Sinai and Palestine.

Western Front (World War I) Main theatre of war during the First World War

The Western Front was the main theatre of war during the First World War. Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne. Following the Race to the Sea, both sides dug in along a meandering line of fortified trenches, stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier with France, which changed little except during early 1917 and in 1918.

Acclaimed a national hero, Cobby transferred to the newly formed Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 1921 and rose to the rank of wing commander. He left the Permanent Air Force (PAF) in 1936 to join the Civil Aviation Board, but remained in the RAAF reserve. Re-joining the PAF at the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Cobby held senior posts including Director of Recruiting and Air Officer Commanding North-Eastern Area. In 1943, he was awarded the George Medal for rescuing fellow survivors of an aircraft crash. He was appointed Air Officer Commanding No. 10 Operational Group (later Australian First Tactical Air Force) the following year, but was relieved of his post in the wake of the "Morotai Mutiny" of April 1945. Retiring from the Air Force in 1946, Cobby served with the Department of Civil Aviation until his death on Armistice Day in 1955.

Royal Australian Air Force Air warfare branch of Australias armed forces

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), formed in March 1921, is the aerial warfare branch of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). It operates the majority of the ADF's fixed wing aircraft, although both the Australian Army and Royal Australian Navy also operate aircraft in various roles. It directly continues the traditions of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC), formed on 22 October 1912. The RAAF provides support across a spectrum of operations such as air superiority, precision strikes, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, air mobility, space surveillance, and humanitarian support.

Airservices Australia

Airservices Australia is an Australian Government owned corporation, responsible for providing safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible services to the aviation industry within the Australian Flight Information Region (FIR). Some of Airservices responsibilities include air traffic control, airways navigation and communication facilities, publishing aeronautical data and airport rescue and fire-fighting services. Airservices Australia has international partnerships with ICAO, CANSO and IATA.

Australian First Tactical Air Force

The Australian First Tactical Air Force was formed on 25 October 1944 by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Its purpose was to provide a mobile force of fighter and ground attack aircraft that could support Allied army and naval units fighting the Empire of Japan in the South West Pacific Area. One of several Allied tactical air forces formed during World War II, it evolved from the RAAF's No. 10 Operational Group, established a year earlier. Following action in the assaults on Aitape and Noemfoor, the group was renamed the First Tactical Air Force to better reflect its size and role. It was beset with morale and leadership issues in early 1945, but recovered to take part in the battles of Tarakan, North Borneo, and Balikpapan. Reaching its peak strength of over 25,000 personnel in July 1945, No. 1 TAF's squadrons operated such aircraft as the P-40 Kittyhawk, Supermarine Spitfire, Bristol Beaufighter, and B-24 Liberator. The formation remained active following the end of hostilities in the Pacific until it was disbanded on 24 July 1946.

Early career

Arthur Henry Cobby was born in the Melbourne suburb of Prahran to Arthur Edward Stanley Cobby, a tram conductor, and his wife Alice. Known as Harry, the young Cobby completed his senior-level education at University College, Armadale, before being commissioned into the 46th Infantry (Brighton Rifles), a militia unit, in 1912. [1] [2] He later transferred to the 47th Infantry. [3]

Prahran, Victoria Suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Prahran is an inner suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 5 km south-east of Melbourne's Central Business District, located within the City of Stonnington local government area. At the 2016 Census Prahran had a population of 12,982.

Tram Vehicle used for tramway traffic

A tram is a rail vehicle that runs on tramway tracks along public urban streets; some include segments of segregated right-of-way. The lines or networks operated by tramcars are called tramways. Historically the term electric street railways was also used in the United States. In the United States, the term tram has sometimes been used for rubber-tired trackless trains, which are unrelated to other kinds of trams.

Armadale, Victoria Suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Armadale is an inner suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 7 km south-east of Melbourne's Central Business District, located within the City of Stonnington local government area. Armadale recorded a population of 9,054 at the 2016 Census.

When World War I broke out, Cobby attempted to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force but his employer, the Commonwealth Bank, refused to release him as his position of clerk was considered an essential occupation. [4] He eventually managed to join the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) on 23 December 1916, despite a professed lack of interest in flying. He became a founding member of No. 4 Squadron AFC, and embarked for England aboard RMS Omrah on 17 January 1917. [5] [6]

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia is an Australian multinational bank with businesses across New Zealand, Asia, the United States and the United Kingdom. It provides a variety of financial services including retail, business and institutional banking, funds management, superannuation, insurance, investment and broking services. The Commonwealth Bank is the largest Australian listed company on the Australian Securities Exchange as of August 2015 with brands including Bankwest, Colonial First State Investments, ASB Bank, Commonwealth Securities (CommSec) and Commonwealth Insurance (CommInsure). Commonwealth Bank is also the largest bank in the Southern Hemisphere.

No. 4 Squadron RAAF Royal Australian Air Force squadron

No. 4 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force squadron composed of the air force special forces Combat Controllers, aircrew who operate the Pilatus PC-9A(F) aircraft and instructors for the Australian Defence Force Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) course.

SS <i>Omrah</i>

SS Omrah was an ocean liner for the Orient Steam Navigation Company built in 1899 for passenger service between the United Kingdom and Australia. During World War I, the ship was taken over for use as a troopship. On 12 May 1918, while headed from Marseilles to Alexandria, Omrah was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine UB-52 40 nautical miles (74 km) from Sardinia. One person aboard Omrah died in the attack.

World War I combat service

Captain Cobby (centre) with officers of A Flight, No. 4 Squadron AFC, and their Sopwith Camels on the Western Front, June 1918 E02661Cobby1918.jpg
Captain Cobby (centre) with officers of A Flight, No. 4 Squadron AFC, and their Sopwith Camels on the Western Front, June 1918

No. 4 Squadron arrived in England in March 1917 to undergo training in preparation for service on the Western Front. Equipped with Sopwith Camels, the unit was sent to France in December. [5] Cobby later admitted to being so nervous about the prospect of going into battle that "if anything could have been done by me to delay that hour, I would have left nothing undone to bring it about". [7] When he did see combat against the German Luftstreitkräfte for the first time, he had only twelve hours solo flying experience. [1] [5]

Sopwith Camel British First World War single-seat biplane fighter

The Sopwith Camel was a British First World War single-seat biplane fighter aircraft that was introduced on the Western Front in 1917. It was developed by the Sopwith Aviation Company as a successor to the earlier Sopwith Pup and became one of the best known fighter aircraft of the Great War.

<i>Luftstreitkräfte</i> Air warfare branch of the German Empire

The Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte —known before October 1916 as Die Fliegertruppen des deutschen Kaiserreiches abbreviated to Die Fliegertruppe—was the air arm of the Imperial German Army. In English-language sources it is usually referred to as the Imperial German Air Service, although that is not a literal translation of either name. German naval aviators of the Marine-Fliegerabteilung was an integral part of the Imperial German Navy. Both military branches operated aeroplanes, observation balloons and airships.

Cobby claimed an early victory, over a DFW reconnaissance plane, in February 1918, [1] [2] but this was credited only as "driven down" and not confirmed. [4] Based in the Pas-de-Calais area, No. 4 Squadron supported Allied forces during the German Spring Offensive that commenced the following month. Cobby's aerial opponents included members of Baron von Richthofen's "Flying Circus". On 21 March he shot down two of the formation's Albatros D.Vs, which were confirmed as his first official victories. [4] [8]

The most successful air fighter is the most aggressive; but at the same time, a cool head and a fine sense of judgement are essential.

Harry Cobby [9]

Having proved himself a talented and aggressive pilot, Cobby's leadership abilities were recognised with his appointment as a flight commander on 14 May 1918, [4] [10] and promotion to captain on 25 May. [5] Described as "an imp of mischief", [2] he personalised his Sopwith Camel by fitting it with aluminium cutouts of comic actor Charlie Chaplin. [11] Cobby again scored two kills in one day on 30 May near Estaires, when he destroyed an Albatros and an observation balloon, and repeated this feat the next day in the same area. He had been responsible for downing No. 4 Squadron's first balloon at Merville earlier in May; although vulnerable to attack with incendiary bullets, these large observation platforms, nicknamed Drachen (Dragons), were generally well protected by enemy fighters and anti-aircraft defences, and were thus considered a dangerous but valuable target. [12] [13] Cobby was recommended for the Military Cross on 3 June 1918 in recognition of his combat success and for being a "bold and skilful Patrol Leader, who is setting a fine example to his Squadron". [14] The award was changed to a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), appearing in the London Gazette on 2 July. [15]

View of an AFC Camel through the cockpit of another Camel on the Western Front, June 1918 E02659CobbyCamel1918.jpg
View of an AFC Camel through the cockpit of another Camel on the Western Front, June 1918

Cobby shot down three German aircraft on 28 June and was recommended for a bar to his DFC, highlighting his then-current tally of 15 victories. [16] On 15 July 1918, he and another pilot dived on five Pfalz scouts near Armentières, Cobby accounting for two of the enemy aircraft and his companion for one. The Australians were then pursued by four Fokker Triplanes but managed to evade their attackers. [17] This action earned Cobby a recommendation for a second bar to his DFC, the citation noting that he had scored 21 kills to date and had "succeeded in destroying so many machines by hard work and by using his brains, as well as by courage and brilliant flying". [18] The two bars to his DFC were gazetted on the same day, 21 September. [19] On 16 August, Cobby led a bombing raid against the German airfield at Haubourdin, near Lille, the largest aerial assault by Allied forces up until then, resulting in 37 enemy aircraft being destroyed. The following day he led a similar attack on Lomme airfield and was recommended for the Distinguished Service Order as a result. [4] [5] Gazetted on 2 November, the citation for the award declared that "The success of these two raids was largely due to the determined and skilful leadership of this officer". [20]

By the end of his active service, Cobby was in charge of Allied formations numbering up to 80 aircraft. Fellow No. 4 Squadron ace, George Jones (later Chief of the Air Staff), described him as the unit's "natural leader in the air and in all off-duty activities"; his exploits made him a national hero. [10] No. 4 Squadron was recognised as the most successful fighter squadron in France, [21] accounting for as many as 220 victories. [22] In September 1918, Cobby was transferred to a training unit in England, where he found the strain of instructing pupils "much worse than flying in France". [23] He continued applying for a return to the front until the war ended in November, [5] and was mentioned in despatches by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig the same month (gazetted 27 December). [24] Though Cobby's final tally for the war is often given as 29 aircraft and 13 observation balloons destroyed, [1] [2] [5] claim-by-claim analyses of his victories credit him with 24 aircraft and five balloons, for a grand total of 29, [4] [25] making him the highest-scoring member of the AFC, as well as the service's only "balloon-busting" ace. [22] [26] His proudest boast, however, was that as a flight commander he never lost a pilot over enemy territory. [4]

Between the wars

Cobby in his Sopwith Camel while instructing in England, c.1918-19. He organised the high-visibility check paint pattern himself, "not for conceit, but for safety". AC0158CobbyCamel1918-19.jpg
Cobby in his Sopwith Camel while instructing in England, c.1918–19. He organised the high-visibility check paint pattern himself, "not for conceit, but for safety".

Still instructing in England following the end of the war, Cobby was chosen to lead the AFC's Anzac Day flypast over London before the Prince of Wales on 25 April 1919, in concert with a parade by Australian soldiers. [4] [5] By 2:30 in the afternoon, he was taking his 50-strong aerial formation through a series of wild stunts over the alarmed Prince's head, and later told the story that he flew so close to the marching soldiers that their bayonets almost pierced his undercarriage. [4] Cobby later said that this was: "probably the most foolish thing I have ever done". [27] He returned to Australia in May 1919, [6] and married Hilda Maude Urban in Caulfield, Victoria, on 24 April 1920; the couple had a son and a daughter. Following the disbandment of the AFC, Cobby joined the newly formed Royal Australian Air Force in 1921. [2] Ranked flying officer (honorary flight lieutenant), he was one of the original 21 officers on the air force's strength at its formation that March. [28] His first posting, along with most of his colleagues, was to a mixed squadron equipped primarily with S.E.5s and DH.9s at No. 1 Flying Training School, based at RAAF Point Cook. [29] Flight Lieutenant Cobby became Commanding Officer (CO) of No. 1 Squadron when it was reformed at Point Cook on 1 July 1925, serving in the position until August 1926. [30]

By 1927, Cobby had been promoted to squadron leader, and the following year went to England to attend RAF Staff College, Andover. [31] [32] Returning to Australia, he took over as CO of No. 3 Squadron at RAAF Station Richmond, New South Wales, from Squadron Leader Frank Lukis on 13 January 1930. At this time, the position of No. 3 Squadron commander doubled as CO of the base. [33] Though popular with his staff, Cobby was not known for his attention to detail. [34] In December 1930, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Commodore Richard Williams, arrived for an inspection and found the base to be in such a state of untidiness that he ordered every man on parade and gave them what was described as "an almighty dressing down", threatening that Christmas leave would be cancelled unless the place was cleaned up. [35] [36] Having handed over to Squadron Leader Bill Bostock on 22 November 1931, [33] Cobby was promoted to wing commander on 1 May 1933 and subsequently served as RAAF Director of Intelligence. [2] [37] In this position he headed an interdepartmental committee that was formed in August 1933 to examine the possibilities of air survey and aerial photography to further national development. The committee's findings, presented in April 1934, favoured employing government agencies for such work and ultimately led to the formation of the North Australian Survey Flight from staff and aircraft of No. 1 Squadron in April 1935. The resulting surveys of Queensland and the Northern Territory provided valuable input for the establishment of military airfields and other installations following the outbreak of World War II. [38] Restless in the inter-war years, Cobby retired from the Air Force to join the Civil Aviation Board as Controller of Operations in 1936; he also contributed to aviation magazines such as Australian Airmen and Popular Flying. [1] [2] His civil aviation duties included aircraft inspection, the issuing of licences and airworthiness certificates, maintenance of radio and meteorological services, and RAAF liaison. [39]

World War II

Group Captain Cobby (right) takes over North-Eastern Area from Air Commodore Frank Lukis (centre) in Townsville, Queensland, August 1942 013177LukisCobby1940.jpg
Group Captain Cobby (right) takes over North-Eastern Area from Air Commodore Frank Lukis (centre) in Townsville, Queensland, August 1942

Cobby was a member of the Citizen Air Force (RAAF reserve) during his time with the Civil Aviation Board, and rejoined the Permanent Air Force following the outbreak of World War II in September 1939. [40] Promoted to group captain, he officially returned to active service on 25 July 1940 as Director of Recruiting, a role that traded on his public image. [1] [41] On 25 August 1942, he took over from Air Commodore Frank Lukis as Air Officer Commanding (AOC) North-Eastern Area in Townsville, Queensland. [42] 1942 also saw the publication of High Adventure, Cobby's account of his experiences in World War I; [2] the foreword was written by Air Vice Marshal George Jones, newly appointed Chief of the Air Staff and fellow No. 4 Squadron veteran. [43] Cobby was promoted to temporary air commodore in July 1943. [44] On 7 September, he was travelling as a passenger on a Catalina flying boat when it crashed at Townsville. Although himself injured, Cobby helped rescue two other survivors, and was recommended for the George Medal for his "outstanding bravery". [45] [46] The award was gazetted on 10 March 1944. [47] Cobby handed over command of North-Eastern Area in November 1943, and the following month was posted to Mount Martha, Victoria, as the Commandant of the RAAF Staff School (later RAAF Staff College), remaining in the post until he was fully recovered from his injuries. [44] [48] On 16 June 1944, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his conduct of air operations over New Guinea as AOC North-Eastern Area, the citation noting his "good leadership, personal example, keen understanding and continued encouragement". [45] [49]

It is impossible to campaign under such conditions. The 1st Tactical Air Force R.A.A.F. is now either administered or directed by R.A.A.F. Headquarters (with Forward Echelon thrown in for luck), R.A.A.F. Command, G.H.Q., and the Commanding General, 13th Air Force. I do not relish the role of the Duke of Plaza Toro.

Harry Cobby, October 1944 [50]

In August 1944, Cobby became AOC of No. 10 Operational Group (No. 10 OG), soon to be renamed the Australian First Tactical Air Force (1st TAF). [1] [40] In this role he commanded 20,000 personnel in the RAAF's major mobile strike force in the South West Pacific, consisting of fighter, close support, and airfield construction units. [51] Cobby expressed misgivings concerning the command arrangements that saw RAAF Headquarters in Melbourne responsible for No. 10 OG's administration, while its operational tasking was to be passed down through RAAF Command, the United States Thirteenth Air Force and Headquarters South West Pacific Area. He believed this required him to "try and serve two masters", a situation he found "unworkable". [50] In the period 22–25 December 1944, 1st TAF flew 513 Kittyhawk and Beaufighter sorties against targets in Halmahera. The following month, it undertook a further 661 sorties against targets in Halmahera, Celebes, Morotai and the Vogelkop. [52] By early 1945, Japanese air power in the South West Pacific had been virtually destroyed, and 1st TAF was increasingly assigned to garrison duties and harassing enemy bases on islands bypassed by US forces in their advance on the Philippines. [53] During March and April, 1st TAF prepared for the invasion of Tarakan, an operation based around a mistaken judgement made by officers at Cobby's headquarters that the island's airstrip could be rapidly repaired and used to support the Borneo Campaign. [54]

Air Commodore Cobby (left) and Group Captain Clive Caldwell (right) at Morotai in January 1945: "the prima donna of one war, and ... the prima donna of the next war". Cobby Caldwell (AWM OG3380).jpg
Air Commodore Cobby (left) and Group Captain Clive Caldwell (right) at Morotai in January 1945: "the prima donna of one war, and ... the prima donna of the next war".

The relegation of fighter units to what appeared to be strategically unimportant ground attack missions led to a crisis in morale that precipitated the so-called "Morotai Mutiny" in April 1945, when eight of Cobby's senior pilots, including Australia's leading ace in the war, Group Captain Clive Caldwell, tendered their resignations in protest. [53] [56] Although one of the "mutineers", Group Captain Wilf Arthur, had earlier voiced his concerns to Cobby and his headquarters staff regarding the efficacy of 1st TAF's tasking, the AOC was taken aback by the resignations. [52] [57] He spoke to the officers individually and as a group, asking them, "Is this something against me, or having a go against me in this, because if so, if you feel that I have fallen down in my job, I will straight away ask to be recalled," to which they replied, "It has nothing to do with you." [58] Cobby reported the incident to his immediate superior, Air Vice Marshal Bill Bostock, who informed the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Jones, and the Allied Air Forces Commander, Lieutenant General George Kenney. All made their way to Morotai and interviewed the pilots involved, and all concluded that Cobby should be relieved of his command. [59]

Bostock held Cobby responsible for the "dangerously low level" of morale in 1st TAF, but also noted "it is clear that he has been badly served by his senior staff". [59] In the event, Jones transferred not only Cobby but also his staff officers, Group Captains Gibson and Simms, and Air Commodore Frederick Scherger took over command on 10 May. [60] Cobby's departure was greeted with relief by Australian Army commanders, who were frustrated by the poor working relationship between 1st TAF and the Army units at Tarakan. [61] Cobby defended his leadership of 1st TAF at the subsequent inquiry before Judge John Vincent Barry. During his testimony he declared that while his officers "wished to do more in the war than they were doing ... it was not within the power of 1st T.A.F. to give them that more important or more interesting work". [62] He believed that his forces had played a significant part in making safe General MacArthur's flank during the Philippines Campaign. [63] Barry nevertheless found that Cobby had "failed to maintain proper control over his command", [64] and that his removal as 1st TAF commander was justified. Air Force historian Alan Stephens later described it as "a personal and institutional tragedy that a genuinely great figure in RAAF history had to end his career in such circumstances". [53] Similarly, The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History contends that Cobby's "gallant service flying career ... became another victim of the weaknesses and feuding within the RAAF's senior leadership during the Pacific War". [64] Stephens summed up Cobby's military career by saying "No Australian airman's experience better illustrates the tensions between 'command', 'leadership' and 'heroism'", concluding that "the qualities that make a hero do not easily translate into those needed by a commander, although they are likely to engender leadership". [65]

Post-war career and legacy

Portrait of Cobby in 1940 000811Cobby1940.jpg
Portrait of Cobby in 1940

Cobby was officially discharged from the Air Force on 19 August 1946. [5] [41] He was awarded the American Medal of Freedom on 15 April 1948, in recognition of his war service. [66] The citation noted that from September 1944 to January 1945, he displayed "exceptionally sound judgement and far sighted planning ... and materially assisted in support of the operations in the Philippine Liberation Campaign". [45] Cobby had rejoined the Civil Aviation Board (by then the Department of Civil Aviation) after leaving the RAAF and served as Regional Director, New South Wales, from 1947 to 1954. He was appointed Director of Flying Operations early the following year. [2] [4]

On Armistice Day, 11 November 1955, Cobby collapsed in his Melbourne office and died later that day of hypertensive cerebrovascular disease at Heidelberg Repatriation General Hospital. His wife and children survived him. [2] [67] On 15 November, he was given a military funeral at St Mary's Church of England, Caulfield, and cremated at Springvale Crematorium. [2] [68]

Harry Cobby's tally of victories in World War I was the highest by a member of the Australian Flying Corps (the top-scoring Australian aces of the war, Robert A. Little and Roderic (Stan) Dallas, flew with the British Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Air Force). [69] His record as an ace wearing the Australian uniform has remained unbeaten. [45] Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams, Director General of Civil Aviation from 1946 to 1955 and widely regarded as the "Father of the RAAF", [70] described Cobby as "a man whose personal story is threaded through the entire history of Australian service and civil aviation". [2] One of the aluminium cutouts of Charlie Chaplin that Cobby attached to his Sopwith Camel in World War I later went on show at RAAF Museum, Point Cook, [11] and the tail skid of one of his victims was displayed at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. [4] Cobby Street, in the Canberra suburb of Campbell, is named in his honour. [71]

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Stephens; Isaacs, High Fliers, pp. 23–26
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Isaacs, Australian Dictionary of Biography, pp. 41–42
  3. Gration, "Cobby – an exemplary warrior", p. 5
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Newton, Australian Air Aces, pp. 25–28
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Air Commodore Arthur Henry (Harry) Cobby at Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 21 February 2009.
  6. 1 2 Arthur Henry Cobby Archived 25 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine at The AIF Project Archived 11 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine . Retrieved 26 January 2009.
  7. Australian Military History: The Australian Flying Corps at Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 12 April 2009.
  8. Cutlack, The Australian Flying Corps, pp. 226–227
  9. Hart, Aces Falling, p. 62
  10. 1 2 Stephens, The Royal Australian Air Force, pp. 20–21
  11. 1 2 Franks, Sopwith Camel Aces of World War 1, p. 94
  12. Cutlack, The Australian Flying Corps, pp. 284–286
  13. Guttman, Balloon-Busting Aces of World War 1, pp. 6–8, 29–30
  14. Recommendation: Military Cross at Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
  15. "No. 30775". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 July 1918. p. 7746.
  16. Recommendation: Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross at Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
  17. Cutlack, The Australian Flying Corps, pp. 295–296
  18. Recommendation: Second bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross at Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
  19. "No. 30913". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 September 1918. p. 11248.
  20. "No. 30989". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 November 1918. p. 12959.
  21. Odgers, 100 Years of Australians at War, p. 98
  22. 1 2 Franks, Sopwith Camel Aces of World War 1, pp. 71–72
  23. Stephens, The Royal Australian Air Force, p. 17
  24. "No. 31089". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 December 1918. pp. 15217–15224.
  25. Shores et al., Above the Trenches, p. 110
  26. Guttman, Balloon-Busting Aces of World War 1, pp. 29–30
  27. Odgers, Air Force Australia, p. 43
  28. Gillison, Royal Australian Air Force, p. 16 Archived 7 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  29. Coulthard-Clark, The Third Brother, pp. 42–43
  30. RAAF Historical Section, Units of the Royal Australian Air Force, p. 5
  31. Coulthard-Clark, The Third Brother, p. 318
  32. Stephens, The RAAF in the Southwest Pacific Area, pp. 40–43
  33. 1 2 Roylance, Air Base Richmond, pp. 46, 123
  34. Sutherland, Command and Leadership, p. 37
  35. Roylance, Air Base Richmond, pp. 36–37
  36. Coulthard-Clark, The Third Brother, p. 363
  37. Wilson, The Eagle and the Albatross, p. 35 [ permanent dead link ]
  38. Coulthard-Clark, The Third Brother, pp. 428–429
  39. Coulthard-Clark, The Third Brother, p. 310
  40. 1 2 Odgers, Air War Against Japan, p. 241
  41. 1 2 Cobby, Arthur Henry at World War 2 Nominal Roll. Retrieved 21 February 2009.
  42. Gillison, Royal Australian Air Force, p. 588 Archived 5 June 2009 at WebCite
  43. Stephens, The Royal Australian Air Force, pp. 20–21, 320
  44. 1 2 Ashworth, How Not to Run an Air Force!, p. 293
  45. 1 2 3 4 Garrisson, Australian Fighter Aces, pp. 57–63
  46. Recommendation: George Medal at Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
  47. "No. 36418". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 March 1944. p. 1165.
  48. Hurst, Strategy and Red Ink, p. 3
  49. "No. 36566". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 June 1944. p. 2873.
  50. 1 2 Odgers, Air War Against Japan, pp. 297–298
  51. Stephens, The Royal Australian Air Force, pp. 168–169
  52. 1 2 Odgers, 100 Years of Australians at War, pp. 214–215
  53. 1 2 3 Stephens, The Royal Australian Air Force, pp. 123–125
  54. Stanley, Tarakan. An Australian Tragedy, p. 60
  55. Group Captain Wilf Arthur quoted in Alexander, "Cleaning the Augean stables"
  56. Helson, Ten Years at the Top, pp. 207–213
  57. Alexander, "Cleaning the Augean stables"
  58. Odgers, Air War Against Japan, pp. 444–445 Archived 18 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  59. 1 2 Odgers, Air War Against Japan, pp. 443–450 Archived 18 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  60. Odgers, Air War Against Japan, pp. 456–459
  61. Stanley, Tarakan. An Australian Tragedy, p. 96
  62. Odgers, Air War Against Japan, p. 449 Archived 18 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  63. Stephens, Power Plus Attitude, p. 69
  64. 1 2 Dennis et al., The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History, pp. 135–136
  65. Sutherland, Command and Leadership, p. 84
  66. Awarded: US Medal of Freedom at Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
  67. "A hero's grandson honors the fallen..." The Argus . Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 12 November 1955. p. 1. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
  68. "Family Notices". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 14 November 1955. p. 11. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
  69. Wilson, The Brotherhood of Airmen, pp. 30–31
  70. Williams, Sir Richard at Australian Dictionary of Biography Online. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
  71. Cobby Street at ACT Planning and Land Authority. Retrieved 15 November 2011.

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References

Further reading

Military offices
Preceded by
George Jones
RAAF Director of Recruiting
July 1940 – August 1942
Succeeded by
Albert Chadwick
Preceded by
Frank Lukis
Air Officer Commanding North-Eastern Area
August 1942 – November 1943
Succeeded by
John Summers
Preceded by
William Anderson
Commandant RAAF Staff School
December 1943 – August 1944
Succeeded by
Ulex Ewart
Preceded by
Frederick Scherger
Air Officer Commanding No. 10 Operational Group
August–October 1944
Group redesignated
as First Tactical Air Force
Force established
by redesignating No. 10 Operational Group
Air Officer Commanding First Tactical Air Force
October 1944 – May 1945
Succeeded by
Frederick Scherger