Conway Pulford

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Conway Pulford
Royal Air Force Operations in the Far East, 1941-1945. CF1269.jpg
Air Vice Marshal Pulford inspects trainees of the Malayan Volunteer Air Force at Sembawang, Singapore.
Born (1892-01-26)26 January 1892
Agra, India
Died 10 March 1942(1942-03-10) (aged 50)
Chibia, Dutch East Indies
Buried at Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy (1905–18)
Royal Air Force (1918–42)
Years of service 1905–1942
Rank Air Vice Marshal
Commands held RAF Far East (1941–42)
No. 26 (Training) Group (1937–38)
RAF Heliopolis (1932–34)
RAF Bircham Newton (1931–32)
No. 7 Squadron (1929–31)
No. 210 Squadron (1920)
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Awards Companion of the Order of the Bath
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Air Force Cross
Mentioned in Despatches
Croix de guerre (France)
Spouse(s) Elinore Mildred Pulford

Air Vice Marshal Conway Walter Heath Pulford, CB, OBE, AFC (1892 – 10 March 1942) was a senior Royal Air Force officer.

Early life[edit]

Pulford was born in Agra, India the son of Russell Richard and Lucy Anne Pulford.

Naval career[edit]

Pulford began his career in the Royal Navy in 1905 as a Naval Cadet at the Royal Naval College, Osborne. After serving as a midshipman on the HMS Russell and HMS Lion, and as a sub-lieutenant on HMS Larne, he became a pilot on the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal in December 1914.

RAF career[edit]

In January 1920, Pulford left the Navy for the Royal Air Force, becoming a squadron commander in 1921. Pulford attended the RAF Staff College in 1922 and the Imperial Defence College in 1929.

Second World War[edit]

In 1941 he attempted to build up the RAF in the Far East to support all the forces under the Far East Command. But before the Japanese attacked on 8 December 1941, the Far East was given a low prioritory so little was done. To bolster his very small staff now that the war had started, Air Vice Marshal Paul Maltby arrived and undertook duties as his deputy.[1] Pulford was authorised to evacuate himself on 5 February 1942. Ten days later Pulford and his naval counterpart, Rear Admiral Ernest Spooner, where amongst the last to leave. Their vessel, the Royal Navy ML 310,[2] was hit and forced to run aground on a malaria-ridden island called Chibia (Tjibia, Tjebia), part of the Juju group located north of Bangka Island, Indonesia, and was uninhabited. The survivors managed to hold out for two months before being forced to surrender to the Japanese, but the Air Vice Marshal and Rear Admiral had both died of exhaustion and malaria. When Pulford did not arrive in Java, Maltby took over command of RAF Far East Command, but was captured and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war of the Japanese.


  1. ^ L, Klemen (1999–2000). "Air Vice-Marshal Sir Paul (Copeland) Maltby". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942. 
  2. ^ Gill, G. Hermon (1957). Royal Australian Navy 1939–1942. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 2 – Navy. 1. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. p. 568.