Richard Pink

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Richard Charles Montagu Pink
Born (1888-11-30)30 November 1888[1][2]
Winchester, Hampshire
Died 7 March 1932(1932-03-07) (aged 43)
Princess Mary's RAF Hospital
RAF Halton, Buckinghamshire
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy (1904–1914)
United Kingdom Royal Naval Air Service (1914–1918)
 Royal Air Force (1918–1932)
Years of service 1904–1932
Rank Air Commodore
Commands held No. 2 (Indian) Wing
Battles/wars World War I
Pink's War
Awards Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Mention in Dispatches (20 November 1925)[3]

Air Commodore Richard Charles Montagu Pink CBE (30 November 1888 – 7 March 1932) was a senior officer in the Royal Air Force. He distinguished himself during service with the Royal Navy and Royal Naval Air Service in World War I, before joining the Royal Air Force shortly after its creation in 1918. He is the namesake of Pink's War, which was the first campaign conducted by the RAF alone and the only campaign to be named after an RAF officer.[1][2][4]

Early life and naval career[edit]

Richard Charles Montagu Pink was born on 30 November 1888 in Winchester, Hampshire. He was schooled at St Aubyns, Eastbourne, and Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, Devon, then in 1904 joined the Navy as a midshipman, before successive promotions to sub-lieutenant in 1908 and lieutenant in 1911.[1][2][4][5][6] During his time with the Royal Navy and then the Royal Naval Air Service, Pink worked first in submarine and then anti-submarine warfare, coming to command the Milford Haven Anti-Submarine Group in 1917, following postings as Commanding Officer of RNAS Longside and RNAS Pembroke.

Royal Air Force career[edit]

With the transfer of RNAS personnel into the new Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918, Pink was appointed to senior staff duties in the Marine Operations Section of the RAF's Directorate of Flying Operations.[2] By January 1919 he was part of the British Delegation's Air Section to the Paris Peace Conference but was recalled to home duties later that year to take up post as the Director of Flying Operations and act as the Airship Advisor to the Chief of the Air Staff.[7] He received a permanent commission as a lieutenant-colonel in the Royal Air Force on 1 August 1919, a rank later renamed to wing commander.[2][8] From 1919 to 1921 Pink carried out executive roles at the RAF's Coastal Aircraft Depot, before being posted at the end of November 1919 as the Officer Commanding the Aircraft Depot in Egypt.[2]

With the RAF in India and 'Pink's War'[edit]

In November 1923, Wing Commander Pink took command of Nos. 5, 27, and 60 Squadrons as No. 2 (Indian) Wing.[9] Through the early 1920s, British forces in Waziristan had undertaken a number of operations to subdue elements of Mahsud tribes in southern Waziristan, including actions by mounted cavalry. By October 1924 almost of all the tribes had ceased actions against the British, except the Abdur Rahman Khel tribe, who with support from three other tribes continued to raid army outposts. Air Vice-Marshal Sir Edward Ellington, then Air Officer Commanding RAF India since November 1923, decided that the RAF would conduct operations alone, without ground support from the Army, the first time that the RAF had fought independently of other services.[1][10]

Pink formed his headquarters with No 5 Squadron and their Bristol F2Bs at Tank, before flying to the forward operations base at Miramshah to brief Nos. 27 and 60 Squadrons. Following the dropping of leaflets to warn the local population, operations commenced with the main aim not of causing casualties to the rebel forces, but to undermine morale and interrupt daily life. Sorties were flown during the day and by moonlight, both to villages and to prevent access to 'safe havens', with 2700 hours having been flown and 250 tons of bombs dropped by the end of the fifty-four days of operations. At the end of April, rebel leaders declared their intention to make peace with British forces, and on 1 May 1924 agreed to terms presented to them at Jandola.[1]

Following the campaign, the India General Service Medal was awarded with the Waziristan 1925 bar, the rarest clasp for the India medal, to the 46 officers and 214 men of the Royal Air Force who took part in what became known as Pink's War after the successful Wing Commander. Pink himself was mentioned in dispatches by Air Vice-Marshal Ellington during his report on the actions in the London Gazette, with the citation reading:

Pink was soon after promoted to Group Captain in the 1926 New Year Honours list "in recognition of his services in the field of Waziristan".[11][12]


Richard Pink died of cancer on 7 March 1932 at Princess Mary's RAF Hospital, RAF Halton. His death had "in the opinion of many senior RAF officers, denied the service a potential future chief of air staff."[1] He had two sons by his wife Marie (née Wrigley). One of his sons, Squadron Leader Charles Richard John Pink, was killed in an air training accident at Church Fenton airfield on 9 March 1941.[13][14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Richard A. Smith, ‘Pink, Richard Charles Montagu (1888–1932)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 8 May 2013 as archived article (no longer current version)
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Air Commodore R C M Pink". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "No. 33104". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 November 1925. p. 7601. 
  4. ^ a b Grieves, Kevin. "On this day in history: Pink's War began 1925". The Modern Historian. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "No. 28206". The London Gazette. 18 December 1908. p. 9659. 
  6. ^ "No. 28452". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 January 1911. p. 5. 
  7. ^ "Air Commodore Pink". The Aeroplane. Temple Press. 42: 466. 1932. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  8. ^ "No. 31486". The London Gazette. 1 August 1919. p. 9865. 
  9. ^ "History The Small Wars". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "Marshal of the RAF Sir Edward Ellington". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "New Year Honours, Royal Air Force". London Gazette. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "No. 33119". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1925. p. 10. 
  13. ^ "Blenheim K7114 at Church Fenton airfield". Aircraft accidents in Yorkshire. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  14. ^ "Casualty details – PINK, CHARLES RICHARD JOHN". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 8 May 2013.