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ROC Crest

The Commandant of the Royal Observer Corps (CROC) was the Royal Air Force commander of the Royal Observer Corps. All the holders of the post were RAF officers in the rank of Air Commodore, initially retired reserve officers then Auxiliary officers and, since the end of World War II, serving officers. The ROC was a uniformed civilian branch initially under the control of the Air Defence of Great Britain organization, then Fighter Command and latterly Strike Command. The Royal Observer Corps existed from 1925 until it was stood down in 1995. Most of the commandants, with only three exceptions, were qualified RAF pilots, two being air navigators and the other a General Duties (Ground) Supply Branch officer. If a Royal Observer Corps officer had ever held the appointment, he would have held the rank of Observer Commodore.

The origins of the ROC go back to Metropolitan Observation Service of World War I which was founded by Air Vice Marshal Edward Ashmore.[1] However, Ashmore never held the post of ROC Commandant. The first two commandants were recently retired RAF Air Commodores, the next two were Auxiliary Air Force officers and the remainder were serving RAF officers. The last three commandants held the appointment in addition to their primary appointment as Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO) at Headquarters No. 11/18 Group RAF, which was colocated with HQROC at RAF Bentley Priory.

The organisation had started as the volunteer civilian Observer Corps in 1925 and became the uniformed Royal Observer Corps in 1941 as part of the RAF in recognition of their invaluable services during the Battle of Britain. Despite several attempts by the Home Office in the 1950s, 1960s and the 1980s to take over the organisation and dispense with the RAF uniform the ROC remained part of RAF Fighter Command and later RAF Strike Command until they were stood down in 1995 as a result of the Communist Bloc breaking up and the Cold War nuclear threat on the UK being removed.

Commandants in chronological order[]

Edward Masterman, first Commandant ROC

Date of appointment Name of Commandant Final rank at RAF retirement
1 March 1929
E A D Masterman [2]
Air Commodore
1 March 1936
A D Warrington-Morris [3]
Air Commodore
1 June 1942
G H Ambler [4]
Air Vice-Marshal
23 June 1943
F Crerar [5]
Air Commodore
7 October 1945
Percy Bernard, 5th Earl of Bandon [6]
Air Chief Marshal
1 February 1949
R B Jordan [7]
Air Marshal
20 March 1951
G H Vasse [8]
Air Commodore
29 March 1954
J H T Simpson [9]
Air Commodore
29 June 1959
J M Warfield [10]
Air Commodore
29 May 1961
C M Wight-Boycott [11]
Air Commodore
3 June 1964
J H Greswell [12]
Air Commodore
28 June 1968
D F Rixson [13]
Air Commodore
4 January 1971
E B Sismore
Air Commodore
24 May 1973
R K Orrock [14]
Air Commodore
8 November 1975
M H Miller
Air Commodore
23 April 1977
J F G Howe
Air Vice-Marshal
12 April 1981
R J Offord
Air Commodore
19 February 1983
G P Black
Air Vice-Marshal
28 September 1984
J Broughton
Air Commodore
5 December 1986
I Horrocks
Air Commodore
22 December 1989
G M Boddy
Air Commodore
1 Apr 1992
M P Donaldson
Air Vice Marshal
1 Feb 1993
C R Spink
Air Marshal
and last
16 June 1995
M K Widdowson
Air Commodore
31 March 1996
ROC Stood Down

Commandant's insignia[]

See also[]


External links[]

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