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Owen Tudor Boyd
Born (1889-08-30)August 30, 1889
Died 5 August 1944(1944-08-05) (aged 54)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
 Royal Air Force
Years of service 1916 – 1944
Rank Air Marshal
Commands held RAF Balloon Command
No. 1 Group RAF
RAF Khormaksar
No. 24 Squadron RAF
No. 72 Squadron RAF
No. 66 Squadron RAF
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Awards Companion of the Order of the Bath
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Military Cross
Air Force Cross
Mention in Despatches (2)

Air Marshal Owen Tudor Boyd CB, OBE, MC, AFC (30 August 1889 – 5 August 1944) was an officer in the British Army Royal Flying Corps (RFC) during most of the First World War. Boyd was an officer in the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the latter part of the War, then in the interwar period, and also served during the Second World War.

Education and pre-war[edit | edit source]

Boyd was educated at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. On 20 January 1909, he was appointed to a commission on the unattached list before entering the Indian Army in the same year. Boyd was an officer with the Indian Army's 5th Cavalry.[1]

First World War I[edit | edit source]

From 25 April 1916, Boyd saw service in the European War as a flying officer with the Royal Flying Corps. Later in 1916, he was a pilot on the Western Front with No. 27 Squadron; on 9 July, he was promoted to Flight Commander.[1]

Boyd stayed on the Western Front and continued to earn promotion. On 26 October, he was made Officer Commanding of a squadron and on 19 January 1917, took command of No. 66 Squadron.[1]

In June 1917, he was moved to a staff appointment and on 2 December, he was made a Staff Officer, 2nd Class, RFC (Captain - graded as Brigade Major).[1]

By 7 July 1918, Boyd was in Mesopotamia as Officer Commanding No. 72 Squadron.[1]

Interwar years[edit | edit source]

From 18 January 1919, Boyd was an Officer Commanding and a Staff Officer (Acting Lieutenant-Colonel). On 1 August, he was awarded a permanent commission as a Major. By 21 January 1920, he was a Staff Officer with the Mesopotamian Wing Headquarters. He was also involved as a Staff Officer with the Directorate of Operations and Intelligence.[1]

On 23 October 1922, Boyd was once again commanding a squadron, this time No. 24 Squadron.[1]

On 26 February 1923, he was made the Commandant of the School of Army Co-operation. Starting 21 January 1926, he attended the Army Staff College, Camberley. By 21 January 1928, he was on the directing staff of the college.[1]

On 4 January 1930, Boyd became the Deputy Director of Staff Duties.[1]

On 7 August 1931, Boyd was the Officer Commanding, RAF Aden. By 16 April 1934, he was Secretary of State for Air for the Headquarters Fighting Area. By 24 October 1935, he was Air Officer Commanding, Central Area.[1]

On 1 May 1936, Boyd was promoted to Air Commodore of No. 1 Group RAF. He was appointed Director of Personal Services at the Air Ministry in December 1936.[1]

Second World War[edit | edit source]

Women's Auxiliary Air Force barrage balloon crews at RAF Cardington.

In 1938, as an Air Vice-Marshal, Boyd became Commander-in-Chief RAF Balloon Command. On 1 December 1940, he was replaced by Air Marshal Sir Leslie Gossage at RAF Balloon Command. Boyd was then promoted to Air Marshal and appointed Deputy to the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C) Middle East.[1]

On his way to Egypt, Boyd was to stop in Malta. However, the aircraft in which he and his staff were passengers was forced down over enemy-controlled Sicily by a group of Italian fighters. After destroying his confidential papers by setting his own aircraft on fire, Boyd became a prisoner of war (POW). He spent much of the war in the Castle Vincigliata (Castello di Vincigliata) camp near Florence, Italy.[2]

When Italy capitulated in September 1943, Boyd and two British Army generals (Philip Neame and Richard O'Connor, both captured in North Africa in 1941), made use of the general confusion and escaped from their Italian captors. After some time in the Italian countryside, all three men successfully reached the Allied lines.[3]

Of all of RAF Bomber Command's wartime group commanders, Boyd spent the shortest time in command of his appointed group. In late July 1944, he was divorced. Little more than a week later, on 5 August, he was dead from a heart attack.[1]

Promotion Dates[edit | edit source]

Insignia Rank Date [1] Service
Second Lieutenant 20 January 1909 British Army
Lieutenant 20 April 1911 British Army
Captain 1 September 1915 British Army
Acting Major 26 October 1916 British Army
Acting Major 1 April 1918 Royal Air Force
Acting Lieutenant Colonel 18 January 1918 Royal Air Force
UK-Air-OF3.svg Squadron Leader 1 August 1919 Royal Air Force
UK-Air-OF4.svg Wing Commander 1 January 1923 Royal Air Force
UK-Air-OF5.svg Group Captain 1 July 1930 Royal Air Force
UK-Air-OF6.svg Air Commodore 1 July 1934 Royal Air Force
UK-Air-OF7.svg Air Vice-Marshal 1 July 1937 Royal Air Force
UK-Air-OF8.svg Acting Air Marshal 8 November 1940 Royal Air Force

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External references[edit | edit source]

Military offices
Preceded by
C T MacLean
As Air Officer Commanding Aden Command
Officer Commanding RAF Aden
1931 – 1934
Succeeded by
C F A Portal
As Officer Commanding Aden Command
Preceded by
H R Nicholl
Air Officer Commanding Central Area
1935 – 1936
Formation renamed as No. 1 Group
Preceded by
J C Quinnell
Quinnel's command was redesignated No. 6 Group in 1936
Air Officer Commanding No. 1 Group
Succeeded by
S W Smith
New title
Command established
Air Officer Commanding Balloon Command
1938 – 1940
Succeeded by
Sir Leslie Gossage
Preceded by
A P Ritchie
Air Officer Commanding No. 93 Group
Succeeded by
G S Hodson

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