Robert Foster (RAF officer)

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Robert Mordaunt Foster
Royal Air Force- Italy, the Balkans and South-east Europe, 1942-1945. CNA3740.jpg
Foster shown on the right with Lord and Lady Tedder
Born 3 September 1898
Richmond, Surrey, England
Died 23 October 1973 (aged 75)
Suffolk, England
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Air Force
Years of service 1914 – 1954
Rank Air Chief Marshal
Commands held No. 15 Squadron
No. 110 Squadron
RAF Wyton
No. 214 Group
No. 213 Group
Siege of Malta
Desert Air Force
RAF Austria
RAF Italy
No. 3 Group
Reserve Command
Home Command
Second Tactical Air Force
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Flying Cross
Mention in Despatches (5)
Other work Deputy Lieutenant of Suffolk

Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Mordaunt Foster KCB, CBE, DFC, DL, RAF (3 September 1898 – 23 October 1973) 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.

Early life and First World War[edit]

Foster was educated at Winchester College and the Royal Military College at Sandhurst.[1] By June 1916 he was a 2nd Lieutenant trainee pilot in the RFC and once he had completed his course Foster was sent to France to join No. 54 Squadron flying the Sopwith Camel.[1] While with 54 Squadron, Foster shot down at least one enemy machine. Later in the War Foster returned to Great Britain, carrying out home defence duties whilst serving with No. 44 Squadron.[1] In April 1918, Foster returned to France, this time as a flight commander with No. 209 Squadron[1] where he claimed 3 shared enemy aircraft captured, 9 shared enemy aircraft destroyed, and 4 shared enemy aircraft 'out of control' giving a total of 16.[2][3]

Inter-war years[edit]

After the First World War, Foster remained in the RAF and in late 1919 he was posted to India where he joined No. 20 Squadron as a pilot.[1] On one occasion during his nearly four years in India, after suffering an aircraft fire, Foster and his observer had to make a forced landing and they were subsequently captured and held for three weeks before being released.

In May 1925 Foster attended the RAF Staff College and the following year he spent several months at the School of Oriental Studies in London.[1] After this period of study, Foster spent the remainder of the 1920s carrying out intelligence duties at the headquarters of RAF Iraq Command.[1]

During the early 1930s, Foster once again served as a pilot, this time with No. 70 Squadron.[1] After a promotion to squadron leader in late 1932, Foster took up the post of Officer Commanding No. 15 Squadron the next year.[1] In 1935, Foster returned to Iraq, serving on the air staff at the British Forces headquarters where he received promotion to wing commander.[1] His last tour before the outbreak of the Second World War was in the Deputy Directorate of Plans on the Air Staff.[1]

Second World War[edit]

Only days after war was declared, Foster was posted as the Senior Personnel Officer at the headquarters of No. 2 Group.[1] Late 1939 saw Foster appointed Officer Commanding No. 110 Squadron and in 1940 he was the Station Commander of RAF Wyton.[1]

In January 1942 Foster took up command of No. 214 Group and in October that year he received an acting promotion to air commodore and was posted as Air Officer Commanding (AOC) No. 213 Group.[1] The following March, Foster was engaged in staff duties at Mediterranean Air Command before being appointed AOC RAF Malta and receiving acting promotion to air vice-marshal.[1] Later in 1944 he served as Head of the Air Commission in Italy which effectively granted him command of the Italian Air Force.[1] Foster did not spend long as Head of the Air Commission, being posted as AOC the Desert Air Force in North Africa.[1]

Following the defeat of the Germany, Foster served on the Allied Commission for Austria as the Chief of the Air Division.[1] Only days later the post became AOC RAF Austria.[1]

Post-war years[edit]

In May 1946 Foster returned to Italy as the AOC at the air headquarters of RAF Italy.[1] However, only two months later he was appointed AOC of No. 3 Group.[1]

From early 1947 to late 1949 Foster was Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Policy) and he then held the post of Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Reserve Command.[1] In the summer of 1950 he was promoted to Air Marshal and then, following the renaming of his command, served as Air Officer Commander-in-Chief Home Command.[1]

In October 1951, Foster became Commander-in-Chief of the RAF's Second Tactical Air Force in post-war Germany.[1] He was promoted to Air Chief Marshal in January 1953 and he handed over command to Sir Harry Broadhurst in December that year.[1]

Foster retired from the RAF at his own request on 1 February 1954.[1] He became a Deputy Lieutenant of Suffolk in 1968, living in Great Glemham until his death on 23 October 1973.[1][4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation - Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Foster
  2. ^ Above the Trenches; Shores, Franks & Guest (Grub Street 1990)
  3. ^ The Aerodrome - Aces and Aircraft of World War I - Captain Robert Foster
  4. ^ ‘FOSTER, Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Mordaunt’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007 accessed 8 Nov 2012
Military offices
Preceded by
W F Dickson
Air Officer Commanding Desert Air Force
Succeeded by
C L Falconer
Preceded by
Sir Alan Lees
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Reserve Command
1949 –1950
Succeeded by
Command renamed Home Command
Preceded by
Command previously named Reserve Command
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Home Command
1950 –1952
Succeeded by
Sir Ronald Ivelaw-Chapman
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Williams
As C-in-C British Air Forces of Occupation
Commander-in-Chief Second Tactical Air Force
Succeeded by
Sir Harry Broadhurst