Henry Cave-Browne-Cave

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Henry Meyrick Cave-Browne-Cave
Born 1 February 1887
Wandsworth, Surrey, England
Died 5 August 1965 (aged 78)
Southampton, Hampshire, England
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
 Royal Air Force
Years of service 1903 – 1940
Rank Air Vice Marshal
Commands held Far East Flight
No. 205 Squadron
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Flying Cross

Air Vice Marshal Henry Meyrick Cave-Browne-Cave CB, DSO, DFC, RAF (1 February 1887 – 5 August 1965) was an engineering officer in the Royal Naval Air Service during World War I and senior commander in the Royal Air Force during the 1930s.

Henry Cave-Browne-Cave was the son of Sir Thomas Cave-Browne-Cave (1835–1924) (see Cave-Browne-Cave baronets for earlier history of the family) and Blanche Matilda Mary Ann Milton. He was the brother of the mathematicians Beatrice Mabel Cave-Browne-Cave and Frances Cave-Browne-Cave. He was educated at Dulwich College in London.

World War I[edit]

During World War I, Cave-Browne-Cave served in the Royal Naval Air Service, initially as the Engineering Officer at the Grain Island naval air station and later as the second in command of the station. In the summer of 1916, Cave-Browne-Cave was appointed as a squadron commander. He later served as Officer Commanding the Seaplane Station at Dunkirk and then as the Officer Commanding the Seaplane Station at Malta.

By 1918, Cave-Browne-Cave had risen to the rank of wing commander and on 1 April, when the Royal Naval Air Service merged with the Royal Flying Corps to form the Royal Air Force, Cave-Browne-Cave was transferred to the RAF as a lieutenant colonel.

Inter-war years[edit]

In 1919 Cave-Browne-Cave was awarded a permanent commission in the RAF and reverted to his previous rank of wing commander. He went on to serve in a senior training appointment at No. 1 School of Technical Training before working as the RAF's Deputy Director of Design.

(Henry's elder brother, Thomas Reginald Cave-Browne-Cave CBE, also educated at Dulwich College and a Royal Navy engineering officer, specialised in airship research and design. The brothers transferred to the new-born RAF at identical rank and seniority.[1] Thomas left the RAF when the Air Ministry discontinued work on airships following the R101 disaster. He was Professor of Engineering at University College, Southampton, from 1931 to 1950.[2])

The summer of 1926 saw Cave-Browne-Cave promoted to group captain and appointed as Deputy Director of Technical Development several months later. He only worked in technical development for several months as in May 1927 he took up the post of Officer Commanding the Far East Flight. The Far East Flight was a newly created unit and it was established to prove that the RAF had the capability to reinforce the more remote parts of the British Empire. The Flight, led by Cave-Browne-Cave, departed Plymouth on 17 October 1927 and eventually arrived in Singapore on 28 February the next year. Cave-Browne-Cave then took the Far East Flight on a flying tour of Australia further demonstrating the increasing reach of British air power. After the Far East Flight returned to Singapore, it was redesignated No. 205 Squadron and Cave-Browne-Cave returned to England as a supernumerary within the headquarters of Coastal Area.[3] The following summer, Cave-Browne-Cave returned to Singapore, resuming his former command in its upgraded form as No. 205 Squadron. At the start of 1930 he became the Officer Commanding RAF Base Singapore.

Back at the Air Ministry in London, Cave-Browne-Cave is credited as being the person who authorised the UKP 10,000 investment in the development of the Supermarine Spitfire in time for it to be the decisive fighter in the Battle of Britain.[4]

On 17 January 1939, when flying out of RAF Eastchurch, Cave-Browne-Cave was seriously injured in a flying accident which occurred at Butley in Suffolk. His personal assistant, Flying Officer Geoffrey Beavis was killed[5] and Cave-Browne-Cave's active career came to an end.[6]



Military offices
Preceded by
W G S Mitchell
RAF College Commandant
1934 – 1936
Succeeded by
J E A Baldwin