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Frederick Alfred Pile

Sir Frederick Pile
Sir Frederick Pile
Born 14 September 1884
Died 14 November 1976
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1904–1945
Rank General
Commands held Anti-Aircraft Command
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross

General Sir Frederick Alfred Pile, 2nd Baronet GCB DSO MC (14 September 1884 – 14 November 1976) was a British Army officer who served in both World Wars. In the Second World War he was General Officer Commanding Anti-Aircraft Command, one of the elements that protected Britain from aerial attack.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Commemoration 4
  • References 5

Early life

Born in Dublin as the eldest son of Sir Thomas Devereux Pile, 1st Baronet and his wife, Caroline Maude Nicholson,[1] Pile was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1904.[2] He initially served in India.[2]


He served in World War I and was involved in the retreat from Mons and was a Staff Captain with 1st Division before becoming a Brigade Major with 40th Division in 1916.[2] In the closing stages of the War he became a General Staff Officer with 22nd Corps in France.[2]

After the War he was appointed a Brigade Major at Brighton and Shoreham District.[2] He transferred to the Royal Tank Corps in 1923.[2] In 1928 he became Commander of the 1st Experimental Mechanized Force and Assistant Director of Mechanisation at the War Office.[2] He went to Egypt in 1932 as Commander of the Canal Brigade Mechanized Force.[2]

In 1937 he became General Officer Commanding 1st Anti Aircraft Division and in 1939, at the start of World War II, he was made General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Anti-Aircraft Command, a position he held throughout the War.[2] He was the only British General to retain the same command throughout the entire War. After Dunkirk he issued a General Order telling his men that they were the only British troops still firing at the enemy. He was to tell the story after the war, in his official dispatch and in his book Ack-Ack: Britain's Defence against Air Attack during the Second World War.[3] His plan for "Engagement of Long Range Rockets with AA Gunfire" (gunfire into a radar-predicted airspace to intercept the V-2 rocket) was ready on 21 March 1945 but the plan was not used due to the danger of shells falling on Greater London.[4]

Pile was created a Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (GCB) in the 1945 New Year Honours.[5] After the War he became Director General of Housing with the Ministry of Works.[2]

He was also Colonel Commandant of the Royal Artillery from 1945 to 1952.[2]

Personal life

In 1915 he married Vera Millicent Lloyd, with whom he had two sons. In 1932 he married Hester Mary Melba Phillimore. In 1951, he married Molly Eveline Louise Mary Home.[1]


In 1948 a locomotive of the Southern Railway SR Battle of Britain Class was named after him at Waterloo station in London.[6][7] After residing at Woodham Brothers scrapyard in Barry, South Wales it was initially preserved at the Avon Valley Railway for many years, and then moved to the Watercress Line in 2011.[8][9]


  1. ^ a b Frederick Pile at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34066. p. 4222. 3 July 1934. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
  6. ^ side view of the locomotive showing the SIR FREDERICK PILE name and crest
  7. ^ Pile Family Crest as carried by the Southern Railway locomotive
  8. ^
  9. ^
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Alan Brooke
GOC-in-C Anti-Aircraft Command
Succeeded by
Sir William Green
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