John Aiken

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For the ice hockey player, see John Aiken (ice hockey).
Sir John Alexander Carlisle Aiken
Born 22 December 1921
Died 31 May 2005(2005-05-31) (aged 83)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Air Force
Years of service 1941–1978
Rank Air Chief Marshal
Commands held Birmingham University Air Squadron
RAF Finningley
RAF Near East Air Force
Battles/wars World War II
Turkish invasion of Cyprus
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath

Air Chief Marshal Sir John Alexander Carlisle Aiken, KCB (22 December 1921 – 31 May 2005) was Commander of British forces in Cyprus at the time of the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.

RAF career[edit]

Educated at Birkenhead School, Aitken joined the Royal Air Force in 1941,[1] serving in World War II in North-West Europe, flying Spitfires with No. 611 Squadron from 1942 and in the Far East as a flight commander with No. 548 Squadron flying Spitfires out of Darwin from 1944.[1]

In 1948 he became an instructor at the RAF College Cranwell before becoming Officer Commanding Birmingham University Air Squadron in 1950.[1] He was made Personal Staff Officer to the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief at Fighter Command in 1954, Officer Commanding No. 29 Squadron in 1956 and a Staff Officer at Headquarters Allied Forces Northern Europe in 1958.[1] He went on to be Deputy Director, Intelligence (Air) at the Air Ministry in 1960 before being appointed Station Commander at RAF Finningley in 1962.[1] His next series of appointments were as Air Commodore (Intelligence) at the Ministry of Defence in 1964, Deputy Commander-in-Chief at RAF Germany in 1969 and Director-General of RAF Training in 1971.[1] He was appointed as Commander-in-Chief Near East Air Force (including responsibility for British Forces Cyprus and Administration of the Sovereign Base Areas) in 1973.[1] He remained there throughout the period of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, during which time he was responsible for organising the evacuation of several thousand foreign nationals from Nicosia and Limassol.[2] He returned to the UK in 1976 and became Air Member for Personnel.[1] He retired in March 1978. On retirement, he was appointed Director General of Intelligence at the Ministry of Defence from 1978-81. He was President of the Royal Air Forces Association from 1984-85, and 1987-88.[1]

Aiken was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1967, and was knighted (KCB) in 1973.[1] He died on 31 May 2005, aged 83.


In 1948 he married Pamela Bartlett; they had a son and a daughter.[2]


Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Derek Hodgkinson
Commander-in-Chief Near East Air Force
Commander British Forces Cyprus

Succeeded by
Post Disbanded
Preceded by
Sir Neil Cameron
Air Member for Personnel
1976 – 1978
Succeeded by
Sir John Gingell
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir David Willison
Director-General Intelligence
Succeeded by
Sir Roy Halliday