Robert Foster (RAF officer)

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Sir Robert Mordaunt Foster
Air Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder (left), Lady Tedder, and Air Vice-Marshal R. M. Foster, Air Officer Commanding the Desert Air Force, in the Officers' Mess of No. 8 Wing SAAF at Campoformido, Udine, Italy.
Air Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder (left), Lady Tedder, and Air Vice Marshal Foster in the Officers' Mess of No. 8 Wing SAAF at Campoformido, Udine, Italy.
Born (1898-09-03)3 September 1898
Richmond, Surrey, England
Died 23 October 1973(1973-10-23) (aged 75)
Suffolk, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army (1914–18)
Royal Air Force (1918–54)
Years of service 1914–54
Rank Air Chief Marshal
Commands held Second Tactical Air Force (1951–53)
Home Command (1949–51)
No. 3 Group (1946–47)
RAF Italy (1946)
RAF Austria (1945–46)
Desert Air Force (1944–45)
RAF Malta (1944)
No. 213 Group (1942–43)
No. 214 Group (1942)
RAF Wyton (1940–41)
No. 110 Squadron (1939–40)
No. 15 Squadron (1933–35)
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath[1]
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Flying Cross
Mentioned in Despatches (5)
Commander of the Legion of Merit (United States)[2]
Other work Deputy Lieutenant of Suffolk

Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Mordaunt Foster, KCB, CBE, DFC, DL (3 September 1898 – 23 October 1973) was a Royal Flying Corps pilot in the First World War, and a senior commander in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and the immediate post-war years.

Early life and First World War[edit]

Foster was educated at Winchester College and the Royal Military College at Sandhurst,[3] graduating as a Gentlemen Cadet. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers on 19 July 1916,[4] but was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps, and on 7 October 1916 was appointed a flying officer.[5] He was sent to France to join No. 54 Squadron flying the Sopwith Camel.[3] While with 54 Squadron, Foster shot down at least one enemy machine. Later in the war Foster returned to Great Britain, carrying out home defence duties whilst serving with No. 44 Squadron.[3] On 19 January 1918 he was promoted to lieutenant.[6] In April 1918, Foster returned to France, serving as a flight commander with the rank of temporary captain from 15 May,[7] in No. 209 Squadron[3] where he claimed three shared enemy aircraft captured, nine shared enemy aircraft destroyed, and four shared enemy aircraft 'out of control', giving a total of 16.[8][9]

On 2 August 1918 Foster was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, his citation reading:

Lieutenant (Temporary Captain) Robert Mordaunt Foster.

This officer has taken part in numerous combats and led his patrols brilliantly; he has destroyed five hostile machines. On one occasion he attacked two biplanes single-handed; one he forced down and the other burst into flames and broke up in the air.[10]

Inter-war years[edit]

On 1 August 1919 Foster was granted a permanent commission in the Royal Air Force with the rank of lieutenant,[11] resigning his commission in the Royal Fusiliers the same day.[12] In late 1919 he was posted to India where he joined No. 20 Squadron as a pilot.[3] On one occasion during his nearly four years in India, after suffering an aircraft fire, Foster and his observer had to make a forced landing and they were subsequently captured and held for three weeks before being released.

On 1 January 1924 he was promoted from flying officer to flight lieutenant.[13]

In May 1925 Foster attended the RAF Staff College and the following year he spent several months at the School of Oriental Studies in London.[3] After this period of study, Foster spent the remainder of the 1920s carrying out intelligence duties at the headquarters of RAF Iraq Command.[3]

From 1930 Foster once again served as a pilot, this time with No. 70 Squadron.[3] After promotion to squadron leader in December 1932,[14] Foster took up the post of Officer Commanding No. 15 Squadron the next year.[3] In 1935, Foster returned to Iraq, serving on the air staff at the British Forces headquarters where he received promotion to wing commander[3] on 1 July 1937.[15] His last tour before the outbreak of the Second World War was in the Deputy Directorate of Plans on the Air Staff.[3]

Second World War[edit]

Only days after war was declared, Foster was posted as the Senior Personnel Officer at the headquarters of No. 2 Group.[3] Late 1939 saw Foster appointed Officer Commanding No. 110 Squadron, and in 1940 he was the Station Commander at RAF Wyton.[3]

In January 1942 Foster took up command of No. 214 Group, part of Middle East Command, based at Kirkuk, Iraq,[16] and in November that year[17] he received an acting promotion to air commodore and was posted as Air Officer Commanding (AOC) No. 213 Group[3] based at Aley, Lebanon.[18] From March 1943, Foster was engaged in staff duties at Mediterranean Air Command before being appointed AOC RAF Malta a year later and receiving acting promotion to air vice marshal.[3] Later in 1944 he served as Head of the Air Commission in Italy which effectively granted him command of the Italian Air Force.[3] Foster did not spend long as Head of the Air Commission, being posted as AOC Desert Air Force in North Africa in December.[3]

Following the defeat of the Germany, from August 1945, Foster served on the Allied Commission for Austria as the Chief of the Air Division.[3] Only days later the post became AOC RAF Austria.[3]

Post-war years[edit]

In May 1946 Foster returned to Italy as the AOC at the air headquarters of RAF Italy.[3] However, only two months later he was appointed AOC of No. 3 Group of Bomber Command.[3]

From early 1947 to late 1949 Foster was Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Policy) and he then held the post of Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Reserve Command.[3] On 1 July 1950 he was promoted to Air Marshal[19] and then, following the renaming of his command, served as Air Officer Commander-in-Chief Home Command.[3]

In October 1951, Foster became Commander-in-Chief of the RAF's Second Tactical Air Force in post-war Germany.[3] He was promoted to Air Chief Marshal on 28 January 1953[20] and he handed over command to Sir Harry Broadhurst in December that year.[3]

Foster retired from the RAF at his own request on 1 February 1954.[21] He became a Deputy Lieutenant of Suffolk in April 1968,[22] living in Great Glemham until his death on 23 October 1973.[3][23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38929. p. 2777. 2 June 1950.
  2. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37415. p. 191. 28 December 1945.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z "Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Foster". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 29671. p. 7103. 18 July 1916.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29801. p. 10378. 24 October 1916.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30608. p. 4069. 2 April 1918.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 30727. p. 6590. 4 June 1918.
  8. ^ Shores, Christopher F.; Franks, Norman & Guest, Russell F. (1990). Above the Trenches: a Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces 1915–1920. London, UK: Grub Street. ISBN 978-0-948817-19-9. 
  9. ^ "Captain Robert Mordaunt Foster". The Aerodrome. 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  10. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30827. p. 9200. 2 August 1918.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: no. 31486. p. 9869. 1 August 1919.
  12. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31992. p. 7825. 23 July 1920.
  13. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 32893. p. 9. 28 December 1923.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33889. p. 7748. 6 December 1932.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34414. p. 4254. 2 July 1937.
  16. ^ "214 Group". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  17. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35784. p. 4928. 10 November 1942.
  18. ^ "213 Group". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  19. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38955. p. 3359. 30 June 1950.
  20. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 39773. p. 825. 6 February 1953.
  21. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 40088. p. 703. 29 January 1954.
  22. ^ The London Gazette: no. 44569. p. 4527. 19 April 1968.
  23. ^ Who Was Who 1920–2008 (online ed.). Oxford University Press. December 2007. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
Military offices
Preceded by
William Dickson
Air Officer Commanding Desert Air Force
1944–1945
Succeeded by
Colin Falconer
Preceded by
Sir Alan Lees
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Reserve Command
1949 –1950
Succeeded by
Command renamed Home Command
Preceded by
Command previously named Reserve Command
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Home Command
1950 –1951
Succeeded by
Sir Ronald Ivelaw-Chapman
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Williams
As C-in-C British Air Forces of Occupation
Commander-in-Chief Second Tactical Air Force
1951–1953
Succeeded by
Sir Harry Broadhurst