Hugh Saunders

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For the English speedway rider, see Hugh Saunders (speedway rider).
Sir Hugh Saunders
Royal Air Force Fighter Command, 1939-1945. CH7956.jpg
Hugh Saunders as Air Officer Commanding No. 11 Group during the Second World War
Born (1894-08-24)24 August 1894
Germiston, South Africa
Died 8 May 1987(1987-05-08) (aged 92)
Ringwood and Fordingbridge, England
Allegiance South Africa
United Kingdom
Service/branch South African Army (1914–17)
Royal Air Force (1917–53)
Years of service 1914–53
Rank Air Chief Marshal
Commands held Air Forces Western Europe (1951–53)
Inspector-General of the RAF (1949–51)
Air Member for Personnel (1947–49)
Bomber Command (1947)
RAF Burma (1945–47)
No. 11 Group (1942–44)
Chief of the RNZAF Air Staff (1939–41)
No. 45 Squadron (1932–35)
Battles/wars First World War
Iraqi revolt
Second World War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Military Cross
Distinguished Flying Cross & Bar
Military Medal
Mentioned in Despatches
Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta (Poland)
Commander of the Legion of Merit (United States)[1]
Officer of the Legion of Honour (France)
Grand Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog (Denmark)[2]

Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh William Lumsden Saunders, GCB, KBE, MC, DFC & Bar, MM (24 August 1894 – 8 May 1987) was a South African aviator who rose through the ranks to become a senior Royal Air Force commander.

RAF career[edit]

Air Marshal Sir Hugh Saunders (far right), Air Vice Marshal Adrian Cole (far left) as RAAF Liaison Officer to SEAC, with Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park (centre), near Penang, c. August 1945

Saunders enlisted with the Witwatersrand Rifles Regiment in 1914 at the start of the First World War and then served in the South African Rifles before becoming a pilot in No. 84 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps.[3] He became a triple ace, with 15 victories credited to him.[4] He was promoted to squadron leader on 29 May 1929.[5] He was appointed Officer Commanding No. 45 Squadron in 1932.[3]

Saunders served in the Second World War, initially as Chief of Staff for the Royal New Zealand Air Force before becoming Air Officer Administration at Headquarters Fighter Command in February 1942 and then being made Air Officer Commanding No. 11 Group in November 1942.[3] He was made Director-General of Personnel at the Air Ministry in November 1944.[3]

At the end of the war, he was made Air Officer Commanding RAF Burma before becoming Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Bomber Command in January 1947.[3] He went on to be Air Member for Personnel in October 1947, Inspector-General of the RAF in October 1949 and Commander-in-Chief at Headquarters Air Forces Western Europe in February 1951.[3] He was appointed Air Deputy to Supreme Allied Commander Europe and retired in September 1953.[3]


  1. ^ "(Supplement) no. 38264". The London Gazette. 16 April 1948. p. 2467. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  2. ^ "no. 40930". The London Gazette. 20 November 1956. p. 6577. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation – Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Saunders
  4. ^ Hugh Saunders The Aerodrome
  5. ^ "no. 33499". The London Gazette. 28 May 1929. p. 3520. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 

Military offices
Preceded by
Ralph Cochrane
Chief of the Air Staff (RNZAF)
Succeeded by
Victor Goddard
Preceded by
Trafford Leigh-Mallory
Air Officer Commanding No. 11 Group
Succeeded by
John Cole-Hamilton
Preceded by
Sir Norman Bottomley
Commander-in-Chief Bomber Command
January – October 1947
Succeeded by
Sir Aubrey Ellwood
Preceded by
Sir John Slessor
Air Member for Personnel
Succeeded by
Sir Leslie Hollinghurst
Preceded by
Sir Leslie Hollinghurst
Inspector-General of the RAF
Succeeded by
Sir James Robb
New title
Command formed
Air Deputy to SACEUR
Succeeded by
Lauris Norstad