Charles Longcroft

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Charles Alexander Holcombe Longcroft
Born 13 May 1883
Llanarth, Cardiganshire
Died 20 February 1958 (aged 74)
Paddington, London, England
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
 Royal Air Force
Years of service c. 1902 – 1929
Rank Air Vice Marshal
Commands held RAF Cranwell
No. 4 Squadron RFC
No. 1 Squadron RFC
Battles/wars World War I
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George
Distinguished Service Order
Air Force Cross
Mention in Despatches
Other work Gentleman Usher of the Scarlet Rod

Air Vice Marshal Sir Charles Alexander Holcombe Longcroft, KCB, CMG, DSO, AFC (13 May 1883 – 20 February 1958) was a pilot and squadron commander in the Royal Flying Corps who went on to become a senior commander in the Royal Air Force.

Early years[edit]

Charles Alexander Holcombe Longcroft was born on May 13, 1883 in Cardiganshire, Wales, the third of four children born to Charles Edward Longcroft (1842–1892) and his wife, Catherine Alicia Holcombe. The Longcrofts had originated in Wiltshire but first rose to prominence as merchants in Hampshire in the 18th century. Charles' somewhat distinguished great-grandfather, Captain Edward Longcroft RN (c.1750-1812), had settled in Wales in the mid-1780s after returning from a lengthy period of service in the West Indies during the American War of Independence. Charles' father inherited the Llanina estate in 1888 but after his death only four years later the estate passed in trust to his nine-year-old son. The entire history of the Longcroft family is recorded in The Longcrofts: 500 Years of a British Family by James Phillips-Evans (Amazon, 2012).

Charles Longcroft was educated at Charterhouse, attended the Royal Military College Sandhurst before May 1903 and was then commissioned into the Welch Regiment. After obtaining his Royal Aero Club certificate in March 1912, Longcroft was attached to the Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers at his request. With the establishment of the Royal Flying Corps in the following month, he was seconded to the new Corps.

World War I[edit]

By 1914, Longcroft had been promoted to major and was appointed Officer Commanding No. 1 Squadron RFC. For the next year and a half, apart from a brief period as a supernumerary, Longcroft was the squadron commander of either No. 1 Squadron or No. 4 Squadron RFC. During the period 1915 to 1918 he was promoted several times and had command of the RFC's Training Wing, 2nd Wing, V Brigade and Training Division. Longcroft finished the war as General Officer Commanding the 3rd Brigade.

Royal Air Force commander[edit]

With the establishment of the Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918, Longcroft transferred to the new service on a temporary basis. However, just over a year later on 1 August 1919 he resigned his commission in the Welch Regiment and was awarded a permanent RAF commission in the rank of group captain. Just four days later he was promoted to air commodore.

On 1 November 1919, Longcroft was appointed as the first commandant of the World's first air academy, the RAF (Cadet) College at Cranwell. The first intake of cadets arrived on the following February and his post was upgraded to Air Officer Commanding RAF Cranwell. Longcroft continued as Air Officer Commanding until 1923 and he retired from the RAF at his own request on 2 November 1929.

Later years[edit]

On April 27, 1921 he married the widowed Marjory Hepburn, née McKerrell-Brown, and together they had a son, Charles McKerrell Longcroft, who was born in 1926. From 1932, Charles A. H. Longcroft served as a Gentleman Usher of the Scarlet Rod in the Order of the Bath, before being appointed Registrar and Secretary of the Order of the Bath in 1948. Charles was knighted in 1938. Air Vice Marshal Sir Charles Alexander Holcombe Longcroft died in London on 20 February 1958. His widow, Lady Longcroft, died in 1964.[1]


  1. ^ Phillips-Evans, J. The Longcrofts: 500 Years of a British Family (Amazon, 2012), pp. 381-384
Military offices
Preceded by
E M Maitland
Officer Commanding No. 1 Squadron Royal Flying Corps
1 May 1914 – 28 January 1915
Succeeded by
W G H Salmond
Preceded by
H R P Reynolds
Officer Commanding No. 4 Squadron Royal Flying Corps
29 January – 21 July 1915
Succeeded by
F F Waldron
Preceded by
J M Salmond
General Officer Commanding the Training Division, RFC
November 1917 – April 1918
Succeeded by
E R Ludlow-Hewitt
Preceded by
J F A Higgins
Brigadier-General Commanding 3rd Brigade RAF
29 April 1918 – c. December 1918
Brigade disbanded
End of World War I
New title
RAF College established
RAF College Commandant
1919 – 1923
Succeeded by
A E Borton
Preceded by
Sir Tom Webb-Bowen
Air Officer Commanding Inland Area
1926 – 1929
Succeeded by
A E Borton
Honorary titles
Preceded by
R G A W Stapleton-Cotton
Gentleman Usher of the Scarlet Rod
1932 – 1948
Succeeded by
D N Wimberley
New title
Award established
Recipient of the Royal Aero Club Britannia Trophy
Succeeded by
J W Sedden