Denis Crowley-Milling

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Denis Crowley-Milling
Nickname(s) Crow
Born 22 March 1919
St. Asaph,[1] Wales
Died 1 December 1996 (aged 77)
Westminster, London, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Air Force
Years of service 1937–1975
Rank Air Marshal
Commands held No. 181 Squadron RAF
No. 121 Wing RAF
No. 6 Squadron RAF
RAF Leconfield
RAF Hong Kong
No. 38 Group RAF
No. 46 Group RAF
Battles/wars Second World War
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Flying Cross & Bar
Air Efficiency Award
Other work Gentleman Usher of the Scarlet Rod

Air Marshal Sir Denis Crowley-Milling KCB, CBE, DSO, DFC and Bar, AE (22 March 1919–1 December 1996) was a Second World War fighter pilot and later an air officer in the Royal Air Force.

Second World War[edit]

Originally a Rolls-Royce apprentice, he joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, he was mobilised in 1937 as trainee pilot and was posted to 615 Sqn as a Sergeant pilot. Originally flying the Gloster Gladiator biplane, the squadron converted to the new Hawker Hurricane monoplane fighter. In April 1940 after operational training, he was commissioned in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve as a Pilot Officer and posted back to 615 Sqn.
Using his experience at Rolls-Royce when a number of squadron aircraft became separated from their groundcrew in France, he showed the other pilots how to service the aircraft and they departed just before the advancing German tanks arrived.

In June 1940 he was posted to 242 Squadron and flew during the Battle of Britain, one of The Few. The squadron moved to RAF Coltishall and Crowley-Milling flew as No. 2 to the new commanding officer Douglas Bader.

On 13 June 1941 he became a flight commander on 610 Squadron. On 21 August 1941 he was shot down over France while escorting Stirling bombers on a raid to Lille, but with the help of the French Resistance he evaded capture. He became ill with paratyphoid in Spain and was repatriated back to Britain where he re-joined his squadron.[2]

He was promoted to Acting Squadron Leader in September 1942 and given command of 181 Squadron, who were operating the Hawker Typhoon in the fighter-bomber role from RAF Duxford. With another promotion to Acting Wing Commander he took command of 121 Wing from June 1943 for four months. In October 1943 he developed problems with his eyesight which saw him removed from operational flying and he filled a number of staff appointments until the end of the war.

During his operational flying Crowley-Milling had four confirmed kills and two shared as destroyed.

Post war[edit]

With his eye problem improving Crowley-Milling was appointed a permanent commission from 1 September 1945. With promotion to Squadron Leader in 1947 he was appointed officer commanding 6 Squadron in Palestine with the Hawker Tempest. He gained more promotions and a number of staff positions, including command of RAF Leconfield from 1962 to 1964, RAF Hong Kong from 1964 to 1966, No. 38 Group RAF from 1970 to 1972 and No. 46 Group RAF from 1973 to 1974.


He retired at his own request and became Controller of the RAF Benevolent Fund for the next six years and Founder Chairman (later Vice Patron) of the International Air Tattoo.[3] From 1979[4] to 1985 he was a Gentleman Usher of the Scarlet Rod, then Registrar and Secretary of the Order of the Bath until 1990. In 1992, he was appointed Master of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators. He was actively involved with many charities, including the Not Forgotten Association and his old friend's Douglas Bader Foundation when Bader died. He died on 1 December 1996 in London.

Honours and awards[edit]

  • 11 April 1941 - Pilot Officer Dennis Crowley-Milling (78274), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 242 Squadron is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) - This officer has participated in numerous engagements against the enemy over a long period and has shown a fine spirit throughout. On one occasion he pursued a Junkers 88 out to sea and, although his aircraft was severely damaged by a cannon shell early in the pursuit, he continued his attack until the enemy aircraft was on fire and disappeared into cloud 40 miles out at sea. He has displayed great courage and initiative, and has destroyed at least four enemy aircraft.[5]
  • 29 September 1942 - Flight Lieutenant Dennis Crowley-Milling, DFC (78274), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 610 Squadron is awarded a Bar to the DFC - Since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in March, 1941, this officer has completed many more sorties over enemy occupied territory and has destroyed at least one hostile aircraft. This officer; whose courage and skill have set a splendid example, has always displayed outstanding keenness to inflict losses on the enemy.[6]
  • 24 December 1943 - Acting Wing Commander Denis Crowley-Milling, DFC (78274), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve is awarded the Distinguished Service Order.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Registration District
  2. ^ Conscrpt Heroes - 78274 Denis Crowley-Milling
  3. ^ "The 'As The Crow Flies' Trophy". The Royal International Air Tattoo 2005. Flightline UK. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 47919. p. 9877. 3 August 1979. Retrieved 2009-04-26.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35134. p. 2114. 11 April 1941. Retrieved 2009-04-26.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35721. p. 4215. 29 September 1942. Retrieved 2009-04-26.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36299. p. 5588. 24 December 1943. Retrieved 2009-04-26.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 42870. p. 9. 1 January 1963. Retrieved 2009-04-26.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 45984. p. 6474. 2 June 1973. Retrieved 2009-04-26.

External links[edit]