Station Commanders and Officers.
From 1936 through to 1993 there were no less than 31 Station Commanders at RAF Cardington. Undoubtedly they would have been located in the "Station Headquarters" building (still referred to as The Shorts Building by locals today). What is not known is where they lived in the early years - can anyone tell us? Certainly in the later years some were lodged across the road in Shortstown in houses that have since been demolished. Below is a full list of all the commanders who were in charge of the Station followed by further details of some of these individuals. It is hoped to expand this section to include details of all the commanders so if you have information about any of these men please get in touch.
As can be seen most were appointed for relatively short periods of time the exception being Gp Capt A R Arnold who served as Station Commander for most of WWII when RAF Cardington took on many large scale operations.
IThe first Station Commander 1936 -1938 Gp Capt A A B Thomson MC. AFC
The first Station Commander 1936 -1938 Gp Capt A A Thomson MC. AFC
When I first began researching into the background of some of the known individuals who served on the camp I was amazed to see the calibre of the men who were chosen to oversee the station. The first man to take charge of RAF Cardington when it was created in 1936 was Group Captain Arthur Ashford Benjamin Thomson who stayed until Feb 1938. When this man arrived at Cardington he was already the holder of a Military Cross and Bar earned from a distinguished military career whilst serving in WW1.
Born in India in 1895 he joined the RFC at a very early age and learned to fly at 17. In 1915 he was a Flight Commander and was awarded a Military Cross for conspicuous gallantary. His citation reads as follows:
"For conspicuous gallantry and determination on 29th Aug 1915, near Neuve Chapelle. When ranging a heavy gun on the German trenches he stayed up over two hours in heavy rain with clouds at about 500 feet. At one time he found himself in a cloud on the far side of the German trenches, but after coming back under heavy fire he continued to observe with the greatest of bravery and skill only returning when too dark for more work. His gallant conduct resulted in ten direct hits on the
enemy's parapet." A year later he was to be awarded another Military Cross (changed to a Bar when it was realised he already had one) for "Conspicuous gallantry and good work during Zeppelin raids." In 1938 he was promoted to Air Commodore and left Cardington in February the same year. Sadly he was killed in an accident in 1939, having just completed a test flight in a Wellington he was hit by the aircraft's propellor and died en route to hospital.
Gp Capt Gilbert Ware Murlis Green took charge of the station from 7th Feb 1938 until 8th Nov 1939.
Gilbert Ware Murliss Green began his career in the Army in WW1 but transferred to the RFC where he rapidly distinguished himself as a pilot and is credited with eight hits. His exploits in the war earned him a vast array of honors of which a small paragraph in this website hardly does justice. Below is a brief summary of honors awarded to this exceptional man.
Jan 1917. Military Cross "For conspicuous gallantry in action. He brought down two enemy machines on succesive days under adverse circumstances. He has displayed great dash and courage at every opportunity....."
June 1917. Distinguished Service Order "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He has set a magnificent example by his gallant conduct in attacking the enemy's aeroplanes when in superior numbers. He brought down three enemy machines within twenty four hours."
Jan 1918. Military Cross Second Bar "Whilst flying at night on patrol duty he encountered an enemy aeroplane, which he attacked with great determination and skill, and although there was very little light he succeeded in hitting one of the engines of the machine, which by reason of the damage was forced to come down in the sea off a South Coast port where two of the occupants of the machine were made prisoners."
Grp Capt Murlis Green was also awarded a Serbian Order of the White Eagle (1917), a French Croix de Guerre (1917) and a Belgium Croix de Guerre (1919).
In the short time he was Station Commander (1938-39) Cardington was begining to take in recruits and this man would surely have inspired the young men coming through. I have been unable to find out what happened to him after leaving Cardington in 1939 but according to Wikipedia he died aged 63 in 1958 so clearly he survived the Second World War.
Grp Capt Gilbert Ware Murliss Green. Station Commander 07.02.1938-08.11.1939
A very fitting new street name for the new development in New Cardington. Arnold Way is named after Grp Cpt Anthony Arnold the longest serving Station CO at the station.
Group Captain Anthony Rex Arnold was the longest serving commander of RAF Cardington and steered the station through the difficult years of WW11. He was born on 26th August 1896 and served in the RNAS in WW1. He was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in December 1914 and in 1917 had five aerial victories between April and June whilst flying a Sopwith Triplane. During the war he was the recipient of a Distinguished Service Cross, a Belgian Croix de Guerre and a Distinguished Flying Cross.
There is very little data available about the staff and operations at RAF Cardington which makes research very difficult but the name Grp Captain Arnold frequently appears in what little documentation there is. He certainly seemed to be very much a "hands on" Station Commander.
Below is a menu of a farewell dinner for him organised by civillian staff dated 19th March 1945 which perhaps reflects the level of esteem this man was held in.
Grp Capt A R Arnold the longest serving Station Commander from 1939-1945
Grp Capt C R Lousada 1956 -1959
Group Captain C R Lousada was the Station Commander between 1956 and 1959 . He was in charge of the Station when it was honoured with The Freedom of Bedford in 1959. According to newspaper reports at the time of the Freedom ceremony he was due to retire a month later on his 50th birthday in August 1959.
W/Cdr A A Fraser-Harris
The photograph left is of W/Cdr A A Fraser-Harris who served at RAF Cardington between 1938 -1947. I can find little about this man except that he appears in several group photographs in the war years.
W/Cdr Richard Sidney Yates was a senior balloon officer at the station in WW2. This highly decorated man had served with distinction in the First World War and later re-enlistediin the Royal Air Force and served at Cardington.
In WW1 Richard Sydney Yates joined the Royal Horse Artillery as a junior soldier and was stationed with "U" battery in India (8th Lucknow Brigade). On declaration of World War I on August 1914 his unit was sent to France arriving there in Oct 1941. By 1917 he had gained a commission and was the recipient of two gallantry awards.
His first, the Military Medal was gained at the Somme and his citation was as follows:
The Military Medal recommendation for 47516 Sergt. R. S. Yates, RHA.
"For conspicuous gallantry and ability at all times. He performed on officers' duties for a week, from 22nd July with marked success, and generally made himself indispensable to the battery.
He appears quite indifferent to any hostile fire and his alertness and quick wittedness are no less worthy of reward than the high courage and example he invariably shows."
(BATTLE OF THE SOMME)
(London Gazette 9 December 1916).
His second was a Military Cross as per below:
His Military Cross citation as a 2nd Lieutenant, RFA November 1917
"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion as forward observation officer during an attack. He maintained communication by lamp and runners after the wires had been cut, and sent back valuable information from the front line for the infantry battalion, as well as for the battery.
After the infantry had reached their objective he made a tour of the front line, under a heavy barrage, and made certain the artillery protective barrage was correctly placed, reporting the fact to his artillery headquarters."
(BATTLE OF PASSCHENDAELE)
(London Gazette 26 November 1917).
W/Cdr Richard Yates
Station Officer Listings 1936/37
Station Officer Listings 1937/8
Station Officer Listings 1938
Station Listings No 1 BTU. 1938
Station Listings BDE. 1938