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Robert Saundby file photo [12386]

Robert Saundby

Given NameRobert
Born26 Apr 1896
Died25 Sep 1971
CountryUnited Kingdom


ww2dbaseAir Marshal Sir Robert "Sandy" Saundby KCB, KBE, MC, AFC, DL was born on 26 April 1896 and was educated at St Edward's School. At the outbreak of the First World War he was serving with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment but, in 1915, he was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps, with whom he became a fighter ace and eventually won the Military Cross for destroying the Zeppelin LZ 48 in 1917.

ww2dbaseAfter the war he continued his career in the newly created Royal Air Force, initially at the Air Ministry, and then at Netheravon and Aden, where he would win the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). In 1926, he became commander of a training school in Egypt, after which he spent a spell at the Staff College followed by appointment to the Wessex bomber Area Staff. Next he went back to the Air Ministry, to the RAF Staff College, and finally back to the Air Ministry, where by 1939 he had become Director of Operational Requirements.

ww2dbaseIn 1940 he was appointed Assistant Chief of the Air Staff in 1940 and a year later was promoted to Air Vice-Marshal. His next appointment, in early 1942, was as Sir Arthur Harris' Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO) and Deputy AOC-in-C at the High Wycombe Headquarters of RAF Bomber Command. Here he would become the permanent house guest of Sir Arthur and Lady Harris at their Springfield home (his own family lived in Berkshire - too far for him to get home for more than occasional visits, so the Harrises invited him to live with them).

ww2dbase"Sandy" Saundby was a genuine English eccentric, a placid humourless, mild mannered man who excelled in detail. In his spare time he was frequently seen stalking the hedgerows in pursuit of butterflies and rare plants. There was a legendary occasion on which he was arrested up a tree with his butterfly net, suspected by a local constable of attempting to catch sparrows for the London market. He was a superb fly-fisherman, drifting across West Wycombe's lakes in summer (usually accompanied by any officer he could coerce to act as a boatman). On one occasion he brought back a basket full of trout which he had caught, unaware of Sir Arthur's intense dislike of that kind of fish, and was most put out when his hosts had the catch made into fishcakes.

ww2dbaseThe Deputy AOC-in-C had other passions besides his love of nature. In a room above the mess at High Wycombe he had an enormous model railway which he lavished all the attention he could spare between his love of nature and his duties to the bomber offensive. He drove an old Rolls Royce which he claimed he had bought as a lifetime investment, but never took it shopping because, as he said, shops tended to overcharge him when he drew up in it. He was almost old-maidenly careful about money, and the difficulty of catching him when it was his turn to buy a round of drinks was a standing joke in the Officers' Mess at High Wycombe.

ww2dbaseIn 1944 he was knighted by the King, and in 1945 was promoted to Air-Marshal. In 1946 he was invalided out of the service as a result of a spinal injury he had sustained in the First World War. He received numerous awards, wrote several books on differing subjects, and became a member of the governing bodies of many societies, both aeronautical and otherwise.

ww2dbaseAir Marshal Sir Robert Saundby passed away on 25 September 1971.

Last Major Revision: Mar 2011

Robert Saundby Timeline

26 Apr 1896 Robert Saundby was born to Professor Robert Saundby in Birmingham, England, United Kingdom.
31 Jul 1916 Robert Saundby forced down a German Eindekker aircraft but was slightly injured in the fighting.
26 Jan 1917 Robert Saundby was transferred from No. 24 Squadron to the No. 41 Squadron RFC.
20 Feb 1917 Robert Saundby became the flight commander of No. 11 Training Squadron RFC at Scampton near Lincoln, England, United Kingdom.
17 Jun 1917 Robert Saundby and two other pilots together shot down Zeppelin L48.
5 Jul 1917 Robert Saundby was awarded the Military Cross for being one of the three pilots that together shot down Zeppelin L48 in the previous month.
1 Jan 1919 Robert Saundby was awarded the Air Force Cross.
22 Jan 1926 Robert Saundby was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
11 Jun 1942 Robert Saundby was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath.
1 Jan 1944 Robert Saundby was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
22 Mar 1946 Robert Saundby retired from the RAF on medical grounds.
7 Mar 1947 Robert Saundby was made a Commander of the Legion of Merit by the United States.
27 Jun 1947 Robert Saundby was made a Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold II with Palms by Belgium.
2 Jan 1956 Robert Saundby was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.
9 May 1960 Robert Saundby was made the Deputy Lieutenant of Berkshire, England, United Kingdom.
25 Sep 1971 Robert Saundby passed away.

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