Francis Mellersh (RAF officer)

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Sir Francis Mellersh
Park, Mellersh, Stevens, Hall in Calcutta WWII IWM CI 1141.jpg
Air Commodore Mellersh (left), Air Commander of the Strategic Air Force, in discussion with senior officers in the War Room at Headquarters Strategic Air Force, Eastern Air Command in Calcutta
Nickname(s) Tog
Born (1898-09-22)22 September 1898
Esher, Surrey
Died 25 May 1955(1955-05-25) (aged 56)
Itchenor, Sussex
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy (1916–18)
Royal Air Force (1918–54)
Years of service 1916–54
Rank Air Vice Marshal
Commands held RAF Regiment (1952–54)
AHQ Malaya (1949–51)
No. 21 Group (1947–48)
No. 91 Group (1946–47)
RAF Staff College, Bulstrode Park (1945–46)
No. 231 (Bomber) Group (1944)
RAF Wattisham (1941–42)
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Air Force Cross
Mentioned in Despatches (2)

Air Vice Marshal Sir Francis John Williamson Mellersh, KBE, AFC (22 September 1898 – 25 May 1955) was a Royal Naval Air Service aviator and flying ace credited with five aerial victories during the First World War, and a senior commander in the Royal Air Force during the 1940s and 1950s. He was killed in a helicopter accident in 1955.

First World War[edit]

Mellersh joined the Royal Naval Air Service in 1916. He trained as a fighter pilot and was posted to 9 Naval Squadron in 1917. While flying a Sopwith Triplane on 28 July 1917, he drove down an Aviatik C. He switched to flying a Sopwith Camel and scored victories 15 October 1917 and 12 April 1918; the latter win was shared with squadron-mate Roy Brown. On 21 April 1918, Mellersh was a flight commander involved in the dogfight that brought down the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen; Mellersh claimed a Fokker Dr.I triplane destroyed on that date. His last victory came two days later.[1]


Mellersh debarked from a helicopter onto a quay on 25 May 1955; he had been invited to cruise on a yacht belonging to the Itchenor Yacht Club. As the helicopter departed, one of its rotors hit the mast of a yacht. As the copter crashed, the main rotor killed Mellersh.[2]



  1. ^ Above the Trenches: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces 1915–1920. p. 280. 
  2. ^ Retrieved 7 February 2010.


  • Above the Trenches: a Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces 1915–1920. Christopher F. Shores, Norman L. R. Franks, Russell Guest. Grub Street, 1990. ISBN 0-948817-19-4, ISBN 978-0-948817-19-9.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Oswald Gayford
Officer Commanding RAF Wattisham
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Howard C. Davidson
Air Commander, Strategic Air Force, Eastern Air Command
Formation disbanded
Preceded by
Ronald Graham
Commandant RAF Staff College, Bulstrode Park
Succeeded by
Dermot Boyle
Preceded by
Gordon Vasse
Air Officer Commanding No. 21 Group
Succeeded by
Cecil Bouchier
Preceded by
Stephen Strafford
Commandant-General of the RAF Regiment
Succeeded by
Brian Yarde