Thomas Cathcart Traill
|Born||6 August 1899|
|Died||1 October 1973 74)(aged|
|Service/|| Royal Navy (1914–17)|
British Army (1917–18)
Royal Air Force (1918–54)
|Years of service||1914–1954|
|Rank||Air Vice Marshal|
|Commands held|| No. 19 Group RAF (1952–54)|
No. 12 Group RAF (1946–49)
No. 83 Group RAF (1945–46)
RAF Middleton St. George (1941)
RAF Helwan (1938)
No. 14 Squadron RAF (1935–38)
|Battles/wars|| First World War |
Second World War
|Awards|| Companion of the Order of the Bath |
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Flying Cross
Mentioned in Despatches (2)
Officer of the Legion of Merit (United States)
Air Vice Marshal Thomas Cathcart Traill,(6 August 1899 – 1 October 1973) was a senior Royal Air Force officer. He began his military career as a midshipman in the Royal Navy, transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in 1917 and rose to the rank of captain during the First World War, becoming a flying ace credited with eight aerial victories. He remained in the newly formed Royal Air Force after the war; by the time he retired in 1954, he had risen to the rank of air vice marshal.
Thomas Cathcart Traill was born on 6 August 1899in Argentina. He attended school at the Royal Naval Colleges at Osborne and Dartmouth.
Traill joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman on 2 August 1914, when he was just four days shy of his 15th birthday. He was assigned to HMS Lord Nelson and served in the Gallipoli campaign.
Traill transferred to the Royal Flying Corps to train as a pilot, and after completion of training was commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant on probation on 11 October 1917. He was assigned to No. 20 Squadron RFC that day as a Bristol F.2 Fighter pilot.
Traill was promoted to lieutenant on 1 April 1918, as the Royal Air Force came into existence. He was promoted to temporary captain when he was appointed as a flight commander on 28 September 1918.
Traill scored eight aerial victories. In the process, he had three other aces serve as his gunner/observer at various times. While in combat on 2 July 1918, Percy Griffith Jones called out a warning from the plane's rear seat and Traill ducked. The German fighter behind them killed Jones and put a bullet through the cockpit and out the windscreen, missing Traill. Traill's next observer took an incendiary bullet in his leg. Leslie William Burbidge then became Traill's observer.
On 23 October, while returning from the mission upon which Traill scored his eighth victory, Traill collided with another plane in his flight while flying at 7,000 feet. The accident knocked away part of the Bristol F.2 Fighter's wing. As the fighter tried to spin out of control, Burbidge leaped out onto the opposite wing at Traill's command, to counterbalance the spin while Traill struggled for control. The resultant crashlanding hurled Burbidge onto his face, but left Traill uninjured and preserved the airplane. Both men were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for this incident.Traill's citation read
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.
|1||29 May 1918|
@ 1840 hours
| Bristol F.2 Fighter |
serial number C856
|Fokker Triplane||Driven down out of control||West of Armentières, France||Observer: Percy Griffith Jones|
|2||30 June 1918|
@ 0730 hours
|Bristol F.2 Fighter|
|Albatros D.V||Driven down out of control||North of Comines (in Belgium)||Observer: Percy Griffith Jones|
|3||2 July 1918|
@ 0840 hours
|Bristol F.2 Fighter|
|Fokker D.VII||Destroyed||Southeast of Gheluvelt||Observer: Percy Griffith Jones (KIA)|
|4||29 July 1918|
@ 1955 hours
|Bristol F.2 Fighter|
|Fokker D.VII||Driven down out of control||Gheluwe||Observer: Richard Gordon-Bennett|
|5||24 September 1918|
@ 1600 hours
|Bristol F.2 Fighter|
|Fokker D.VII||Driven down out of control||West of Busigny, France||Observer: Richard Gordon-Bennett|
|6||25 September 1918|
@ 1820 hours
|Bristol F.2 Fighter|
|Fokker D.VII||Destroyed||Northeast of Saint-Quentin, France||Observer: Richard Gordon-Bennett|
|7||29 September 1918|
@ 1025 hours
|Bristol F.2 Fighter|
|Fokker D.VII||Destroyed||North of Saint-Quentin, France||Observer: Leslie William Burbidge|
|8||23 October 1918|
@ 1520 hours
|Bristol F.2 Fighter|
|Fokker D.VII||Destroyed||West of Aulnoye-Aymeries, France||Observer: Leslie William Burbidge|
Traill remained in military service, becoming the assistant air attaché in Washington D. C. in 1919. During this period he was sent off to join a barn-storming flying circus in the Mid West to raise funds for the Victory Liberty Loan. This was run by the United States Army Air Service under the command of Major George Stratemeyer. They travelled by train from Texas to the Canada–US border, putting on twenty-eight flying displays. These displays took place at race courses, sports grounds or fields. Large crowds attended as the local city authorities frequently closed all schools and colleges, and encouraged businesses to close in order to raise the maximum amount for the war loan.He returned home to Britain the following year, being assigned to experimental work beginning 18 May 1920. He entered the University of Cambridge on 1 October 1922, receiving a Master of Arts in 1924. After that, he had various further domestic military assignments, as well as foreign service in Iraq, before he began attendance at the RAF Staff College on 23 January 1933.
Traill was promoted to squadron leader on 1 December 1934.He was appointed to the command of No. 14 Squadron RAF on 16 August 1935, moving on to command RAF Helwan, Egypt on 10 May 1938. He was subsequently promoted to wing commander on 1 July 1938. On 26 September 1938, he was assigned to staff duty with the headquarters of No. 2 (Bomber) Group.
On 14 May 1940, Traill was appointed assistant senior air staff officer at Headquarters Bomber Command.On 11 July 1940, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. A promotion to Group Captain followed on 1 December 1940. The following year would see him command RAF Middleton St. George before moving on to the post of senior air staff officer (SASO) at Headquarters, No. 242 Group. As part of 242 Group's deployment into Northwest African Air Forces, Traill was promoted to acting air commodore on 21 February 1943 and appointed SASO at the latter organization's headquarters on 8 March 1943. For his services there, he would be Mentioned in Despatches on 2 June 1943.
Traill was appointed director of air tactics on 28 February 1944, and selected as the RAF's liaison officer to the United States Army Air Forces' Eighth Air Force that same year.He was made of Officer of the American Legion of Merit on 11 April 1944, and was again Mentioned in Despatches on 8 June 1944.
On 1 September 1945, Traill became an acting air vice-marshaland was granted command of No. 83 Group RAF. He moved to command of No. 12 Group RAF on 5 May 1946. He was appointed an Officer of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath on 1 January 1948. One year later, he was confirmed as an air vice-marshal.
After a period as director-general of personnel that began on 25 April 1949, he was again appointed to command on 18 February 1952, this time as air officer commanding No. 19 (Reconnaissance) Group.By virtue of this appointment he also became air commander, North-East Atlantic Sub-Area, Allied Command Atlantic, NATO, in 1953.
Traill retired on 21 September 1954,having served for 40 years. He died on 1 October 1973, and was buried in Saint Margaret Churchyard, Heveningham, Suffolk, England.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Edward Johns, is a retired senior Royal Air Force commander. He was a fighter pilot in the 1960s, commanding officer of a squadron during the 1970s and a station commander in the 1980s. Johns served as one of three British directors of operations on the senior planning staff for Operation Granby in 1991 and then acted as a supporting commander for joint operations in the Balkans in 1994. As Chief of the Air Staff he advised the British Government on the air force aspects of the Strategic Defence Review and on NATO's air campaign in Kosovo.
Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Dermot Alexander Boyle, was a senior officer in the Royal Air Force. He served in the Second World War initially as a staff officer with the Advanced Air Striking Force in Reims in which capacity he organised the evacuation of the Force through Brest in May 1940. His war service included tours as a bomber squadron commander, as a station commander and also as an air group commander. He was Chief of the Air Staff in the late 1950s and, in that role, deployed British air power during the Suez Crisis in October 1956 and defended the RAF against the views of Duncan Sandys, the Minister for Defence, who believed that the V bomber force rendered manned fighter aircraft redundant.
Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir John Grandy, was a senior officer in the Royal Air Force. He was the only officer who fought and commanded a squadron during the Battle of Britain to reach the post of Chief of the Air Staff. In the latter role he implemented the final stages of the RAF's withdrawal from the Persian Gulf and the Far East, oversaw the ordering and subsequent cancellation of the F-111 strike aircraft and handed over Britain's nuclear deterrent role to the Royal Navy.
Air Chief Marshal Sir James Milne Robb, was a senior Royal Air Force commander. After early service in the First World War with the Northumberland Fusiliers, Robb joined the Royal Flying Corps and became a flying ace credited with seven aerial victories. He was granted a permanent commission in the Royal Air Force in 1919 and commanded No. 30 Squadron RAF in the Iraqi revolt against the British. In 1939, Robb travelled to Canada to help establish the Empire Air Training Scheme, a massive training program that provided the Royal Air Force with trained aircrew from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Southern Rhodesia. He commanded No. 2 Group RAF of RAF Bomber Command and No. 15 Group RAF of RAF Coastal Command.
Air Chief Marshal Sir James Donald Innes Hardman,, known as Donald Hardman, was a senior Royal Air Force commander. He began his flying career as a fighter pilot in World War I, achieving nine victories to become an ace. During World War II, Hardman held senior staff and operational posts. He was Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) from 1952 to 1954, after which he served as a member of the British Air Council until retiring in 1958.
Air Marshal Sir Peter Roy Maxwell Drummond, was an Australian-born senior commander in the Royal Air Force (RAF). He rose from private soldier in World War I to air marshal in World War II. Drummond enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in 1914 and the following year saw service as a medical orderly during the Gallipoli campaign. He joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1916 and became a fighter ace in the Middle Eastern theatre, where he was awarded the Military Cross and the Distinguished Service Order and Bar. Transferring to the RAF on its formation in 1918, he remained in the British armed forces for the rest of his life.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Mordaunt Foster, was a Royal Flying Corps pilot in the First World War, and a senior commander in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and the immediate post-war years.
Air Commodore John Mortimer Warfield CBE RAF was a bomber pilot during the Second World War, a senior RAF staff officer and commander during the Malayan Emergency in the 1950s and, as an Air Commodore in his final tour, the ninth Commandant of the Royal Observer Corps.
Air Commodore Cathcart Michael Wight-Boycott, was a British fighter pilot during the Second World War and a senior Royal Air Force officer during the post-war years. In 1961, Wight-Boycott became the 10th Commandant Royal Observer Corps.
Air Vice Marshal William Ernest Staton, was a British airman who began his career as a First World War flying ace credited with 26 victories. He was transferred to the Royal Air Force (RAF) on its creation in 1918 and remained in the RAF during the inter-war years. During the Second World War he served in England and pioneered the bombing technique of using pathfinders to mark targets. He then served in the Far East before becoming a prisoner of war to the Japanese. After the war he returned to Great Britain and the RAF where he reached air rank and twice captained the British Olympic Shooting Team.
Air Vice Marshal Sir Matthew Brown Frew, was a Scottish First World War flying ace, credited with 23 aerial victories, who went on to serve as a senior officer in the Royal Air Force and South African Air Force during the Second World War.
Captain Leslie William Burbidge was a World War I flying ace credited with six aerial victories. He flew as an observer/gunner in Bristol F.2 Fighters in 20 Squadron.
Air Vice-Marshal Hugh Granville White, was a Royal Air Force air officer. He was a First World War flying ace credited with seven aerial victories, and later went on to serve throughout the Second World War, finally retiring in 1955.
Air Vice Marshal Kenneth Malise St. Clair Graeme Leask, was a senior officer of the Royal Air Force (RAF). He began his career in the British Army and served with the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War, being credited with eight aerial victories to become a flying ace. He flew over 100 sorties, and survived three forced landings. He attained the rank of captain, and position as flight commander, in No. 84 Squadron. He remained in the RAF after the war, being appointed Director-General of Engineering in the Air Ministry with the rank of air vice marshal after the Second World War.
Air Marshal Sir Victor Emmanuel Groom, was a senior officer in the British Royal Air Force and a flying ace of the First World War credited with eight aerial victories. He rose to become a consequential participant in air operations to support Operation Overlord, the invasion of France during the Second World War.
Air Vice Marshal John Oliver Andrews, was an English flying ace of the First World War and later a senior officer in the Royal Air Force. He was credited with twelve aerial victories. His most significant victory was over German ace Stefan Kirmaier, although he also enjoyed some success against Max Immelmann and Manfred von Richthofen. He continued his military career through the Second World War, rising into increasingly responsible staff positions during the interwar years, then successively commanding two fighter groups during the war. His career was capped by his admission into the Order of the Bath.
Air Vice Marshal Colin Peter Brown & Bar was a Scottish officer who began his career in the Royal Naval Air Service during the First World War, before transferring to the Royal Air Force (RAF). A flying ace credited with 14 aerial victories, he remained in the RAF and served throughout the Second World War, retiring in 1954.
Air Vice Marshal George Stacey Hodson, was an air officer of the British Royal Air Force who began his military career as a World War I flying ace credited with ten aerial victories. In the course of his 34 years service, he rose to become a major commander during World War II.
Air Commodore John Watson Allan,, known as Ian Allan, was a Scottish Royal Air Force officer and flying ace of the Second World War, who was credited with 14 kills.
Air Vice Marshal Harvey Smyth, is a senior Northern Irish Royal Air Force officer. From July 2018, he served as Air Officer Commanding No. 1 Group. In February 2020, he took up the new post of Director Space, UK, in the Ministry of Defence.