Robert Marsland Groves

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For other people named Robert Groves, see Robert Groves (disambiguation).
Robert Marsland Groves
Brigadier-General R M Groves.jpg
Groves as Deputy Chief of the Air Staff
Born (1880-01-03)3 January 1880
Stretford, Lancashire, England
Died 27 May 1920(1920-05-27) (aged 40)
Heliopolis, Egypt[1]
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
 Royal Air Force
Years of service 1899–1920
Rank Air Commodore
Battles/wars World War I
Awards Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Air Force Cross
Legion of Honour (France)
Distinguished Service Medal (United States)[2]

Air Commodore Robert Marsland Groves CB DSO AFC (3 January 1880 – 27 May 1920) was a Royal Navy officer involved with naval aviation during World War I. He was awarded his Aviator's Certificate no. 969 on 15 November 1914. After transferring to the Royal Air Force in 1918, he served as Deputy Chief of the Air Staff and held high command in the Middle East. He was killed in a flying accident in 1920 aged 40 whilst serving in Egypt.

Early life[edit]

Robert Marsland Groves was born on 3 January 1880 at Stretford in Lancashire, England, the son of James Grimble Groves, the brewer and Conservative MP.[3] Robert Groves was educated at Rossall School.

Naval service[edit]

He joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman in the 1890s, rising to sub-lieutenant by the summer of 1899 and then Lieutenant 15 February 1900.[4] In the early years of the 20th century Groves was an officer on HMS Vernon.[5]

Groves was promoted to commander on 22 June 1911 and the following year on 26 November 1912, he was appointed Flag Commander to the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean on HMS Inflexible.[5] He served in World War I as Assistant Director of the Air Department at the Admiralty and then as Officer Commanding No. 1 Squadron RNAS before returning to the Admiralty to be Assistant Secretary of the Air Board.[5]

Royal Air Force[edit]

After the War he became Deputy Chief of the Air Staff and Director of Operations and Intelligence.[5] He went on to be Acting Air Officer Commanding RAF Middle East Area in 1919 and Air Officer Commanding Egyptian Group in 1920.[5]

Grove died aged 40 on 27 May 1920 in Egypt from injuries received in an aircraft crash, he was buried at the Cairo New British Protestant Cemetery.[6]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order 22 June 1916:

Commander Robert Marsland Groves,. R.N. (Wing Commander, R.N.A.S.). In recognition of his services in command of a Wing of the Royal Naval Air Service at Dunkirk. Commander Groves has by his personal skill as a pilot, and also by his untiring zeal, effected a marked advancement in the general standard of flying on active service. He has on several occasions carried out successful reconnaissances to Ostend under fire, and by his own example has proved the utility and great importance of night flying."[7]


Military offices
Preceded by
M E F Kerr
Deputy Chief of the Air Staff
Succeeded by
O Swann
Preceded by
O Swann
Only as Deputy Chief of the Air Staff
Deputy Chief of the Air Staff
and Director of Operations and Intelligence

February 1919 – 8 September 1919
Succeeded by
J M Steel
New title
Formed by renaming Training Brigade (Middle East)
Air Officer Commanding Egyptian Group
16 March – 27 May 1920
Succeeded by
O Swann