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Victor Groom

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Victor Groom

Sir Victor Emmanuel Groom
Born 4 August 1898
Peckham, London, England
Died 6 December 1990(1990-12-06) (aged 92)
Surrey, England
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Air Force
Years of service 1916–1955
Rank Air Marshal
Commands held No. 28 Squadron RAF
No. 58 Squadron RAF
RAF Marham
No. 205 Group RAF
Middle East Air Force
Technical Training Command
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Awards Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Flying Cross & Bar
Mentioned in Despatches

Air Marshal Sir Victor Emmanuel Groom KCVO, KBE, CB, DFC & Bar (4 August 1898 – 6 December 1990) was a senior officer in the Royal Air Force and a flying ace of the First World War credited with eight aerial victories.[1] He rose to become a consequential participant in air operations to support Operation Overlord, the re-invasion of France during the Second World War.[2]

World War I

Groom was educated at Alleyns, Dulwich. He joined the Artists Rifles of the West Yorkshire Regiment as a Private and was commissioned and transferred to the Royal Flying Corps on 26 April 1917. He was appointed a Flying Officer on 30 January 1918[2] and placed on the General List of the Royal Flying Corps.[3] On 18 March, he was assigned to 20 Squadron as a Bristol F.2 Fighter pilot.[1][2]

On his first combat flight, his formation leader fired a Very flare that landed in the rear cockpit of Groom's Bristol. While the observer burned his hands smothering the fire that threatened to set off munitions, Groom safely landed.[2] Having survived friendly fire, Groom began to triumph over enemy fire on 8 May 1918, when he began a string of eight victories that would take him through to 30 July. Groom's final tally was three enemy planes set afire, four otherwise destroyed, and one driven down out of control; his observer/gunner for all these victories was Ernest Hardcastle.[1]

Groom went on leave, was laid low by influenza, and did not return to combat in France. Instead, upon recovery, he was posted to 111 Squadron in Egypt.[2]

Between the World Wars

On 1 August 1919, Groom was granted a permanent commission as a Lieutenant.[4] On 15 December, he switched to 14 Squadron in Palestine and on 22 May 1920, he continued Middle Eastern service with a new posting, to 55 Squadron.[2]

On 25 March 1922, Groom returned home to begin a decade of staff assignments,[2] enlivened only by being promoted from Flying Officer to Flight Lieutenant on 1 July 1924.[5] He was given command of No. 28 Squadron on 26 October 1932.[2] On 1 October 1934 he was promoted to Squadron Leader, his rank catching up with his position.[6] He moved on to command of No. 58 Squadron, then on to staff work at Headquarters Bomber Command, even as he continued to ascend in rank. On 1 January 1938, having earned an OBE at Bomber Command,[2] he was promoted to Wing Commander.[7]

World War II

On 1 September 1940, he was promoted to Temporary Group Captain[8] and became Station Commander at RAF Marham.[2] In 1941, he moved back into staff work in the Directorate of Plans.[2] The following year, he became head of the RAF Air Staff planning for Operation Overlord.[2] As part of his duties there, he accompanied Air Chief Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory to North Africa to study operations there and bring home lessons learned.[2] In the meantime, he continued his climb through the ranks: on 18 November 1942, he was confirmed as a Group Captain.[9] On 1 June 1943, he was bumped up to Temporary Air Commodore[10] and on 8 September 1943 he was promoted to Acting Air Vice Marshal[11] on appointment as Senior Air Staff Officer at Headquarters Second Tactical Air Force.[2] On 8 September 1944 he was promoted to Air Commodore while Acting as Air Vice Marshal.[12] In August 1945 he became Air Officer Administration at Headquarters Flying Training Command.[2]

Post World War II

Groom became Director General of Manning for the RAF on 1 January 1947 and took command of No. 205 Group on 20 October 1949.[2] On 1 January 1952, he was promoted from Air Vice Marshal to Air Marshal[13] and appointed Ordinary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.[14] He took command of the Middle East Air Force in February 1952 and Technical Training Command in July 1952.[2]

Groom retired on 26 September 1955 and died on 6 December 1990.[2]

Honors and awards

  • Distinguished Flying Cross - 2 November 1918 An officer of great courage and dash who never hesitates to attack the enemy regardless of the superiority in numbers. While on a recent patrol this officer was one of a formation of eight that engaged twenty-five hostile scouts. Lieut. Groom shot down one, and his observer (Lieut. Hardcastle) a few minutes later destroyed another. On a later date, accompanied by the same observer, they were attacked by twelve scouts; two of these they shot down.[15]
  • Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross - 19 August 1921 For conspicuous skill and gallantry under fire. While taking part in a bombing expedition from Mosul on 5 May 1921, an aeroplane was shot down by rifle fire in hostile country thtree miles west of Batas. Flying Officer Groom at once landed and picked up the crew of this machine while under enemy fire. He then successfully took off down hill and returned safely to Mosul with two passengers in the back seat and a third lying on one of the planes. This officer, in addition to showing great promptitude and gallantry, also displayed marked skill in first landing safely under most difficult conditions and then taking off with a very excessive load.[16]

Notes

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir John Baker
Commander-in-Chief RAF Middle East Air Force
February 1952–May 1952
Succeeded by
Sir Arthur Sanders
Preceded by
Sir John Whitworth-Jones
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Technical Training Command
1952 – 1955
Succeeded by
Sir George Beamish

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