John Marlow Thompson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

John Marlow Thompson
Born (1914-08-16)16 August 1914
Keynsham, Somerset
Died 23 July 1994(1994-07-23) (aged 79)
Brighton, Sussex
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Air Force
Years of service 1934–1966
Rank Air Commodore
Commands held Military Air Traffic Organisation (1962–66)
Director of Air Defence (1958–60)
RAF Leeming (1957–58)
No. 338 Wing RAF (1944)
RAF Hal Far (1943–44)
No. 350 Squadron RAF (1941–42)
No. 131 Squadron RAF (1941)
No. 111 Squadron RAF (1940)

Second World War

Awards Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Flying Cross & Bar
Air Force Cross
Military Cross, First Class (Belgium)

Air Commodore John Marlow Thompson, CBE, DSO, DFC & Bar, AFC (16 August 1914 – 23 July 1994) was a Royal Air Force (RAF) officer and a flying ace of the Second World War.

Early life[edit]

Thompson was born on 16 August 1914 in Keynsham, Somerset and he joined the Royal Air Force on 16 March 1934.

RAF career[edit]

He finished his pilot training in March 1935 and was posted to No. 29 Squadron. By 1937 he was a flight commander with No. 151 Squadron and then with promotion to acting squadron leader he took command of No. 111 Squadron with Hawker Hurricanes in January 1940.

Fighter ace[edit]

Thompson first saw action during the Battle of France, leading a detachment of No. 111 Squadron. His Hurricane was damaged by Bf 110s on 19 May, and he force-landed. He claimed two victories confirmed and 3 unconfirmed during this period. Under his command 111 Squadron provided escort for the Fleet Air Arm's bombing operations over the French coast during June 1940.He flew during the Battle of Britain, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in September. Thompson claimed a further four victories during the battle.

He moved on to an air staff position with 11 Group in October 1940. He gained command of No. 131 Squadron in June 1941 and in November 1941 he became the commanding officer of No. 350 (Belgian) Squadron. In early 1942 he was moved to the Middle East to become a wing leader and later commanding officer of RAF Hal Far on Malta at the end of 1943. From August to October 1942, as Hal Far Wing Leader on Malta, Thompson claimed two more victories, a Ju 88 of KG 54 and a JG 27 Bf 109-F, and several aircraft damaged. After a spell as OC, No 338 Wing, by March 1944 he was SASO, HQ, No 210 Group. By the end of the war in May 1945 Thompson was Sector Commander stationed at RAF North Weald.

At the end of the Second World War Thompson had eight confirmed destroyed and two shared, three unconfirmed destroyed, one probable and one shared and seven damaged.[1]


Thompson attended staff college in 1945. In June 1948 the Russians blockaded Berlin, cutting off the city’s land and water access routes. AsThompson, as Wing Commander (Operations) during this period, ensured supply aircraft carrying materials were able to land at RAF Gatow in the British sector of Berlin every two minutes.

By 1957 he was officer commanding RAF Leeming, becoming the Director of Air Defence in December 1958. His last appointment was at HQ Military Air Traffic Organisation in 1962 until he retired in September 1966.


Thompson became the general manager of Airwork in Saudi Arabia for the first two years after he retired from the RAF and then returned to the UK to become secretary of the Moor Park Golf Club which was followed by an 11-year tenure as secretary of the Monte Carlo Golf Club. In 1983 he returned to Sussex where he stayed until his death in 1994.

Honours and awards[edit]

This officer has commanded a squadron since January, 1940, and has operated over various areas in Northern France. He has taken part in nearly every patrol and, under his leadership, eighty-one enemy aircraft have been destroyed, twelve probably destroyed and at least forty-four damaged. He has, himself, shot down eight and damaged at least six enemy aircraft.[2]

  • 4 December 1942 – Wing Commander John Marlow Thompson, DFC, Reserve of Air Force Officers, Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross[3]
  • 1 January 1943 – Wing Commander John Marlow Thompson, DFC, Reserve of Air Force Officer – Military Cross, First Class, conferred by the Belgian government in recognition of valuable services rendered in connection with the war.[4]
  • 14 May 1943 – Wing Commander John Marlow Thompson, DFC, Reserve of Air Force Officers awarded the Distinguished Service Order:

This officer has a fine operational record. He fought in France and later took part in the Battle of Britain. For the past 9 months he has been engaged in flying operations from Malta, playing a prominent part in the defence of the island during a period of intense air attacks. Latterly, Wing Commander Thompson has led formations of fighter-bombers in numerous successful attacks against port installations, factories, airfields and other targets. By his great skill and brilliant leadership, Wing Commander Thompson has contributed in a large measure to the excellent results obtained.[5]


  1. ^ Aces High, Shores & Williams, page 585-6
  2. ^ "No. 34940". The London Gazette. 6 September 1940. p. 5407. 
  3. ^ "No. 35809". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 December 1942. p. 5266. 
  4. ^ "No. 35845". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1943. p. 86. 
  5. ^ "No. 36015". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 May 1943. p. 2152. 
  6. ^ "No. 39421". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1952. p. 33. 
  7. ^ "No. 40366". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1955. p. 10.