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David Atcherley
CB CBE DSO DFC
C. 1944: Air Vice-Marshal Basil Embry, Air Officer Commanding No, 2 Group RAF, and his staff, study a scale model of a prospective target at Group Headquarters in Brussels. They are (left to right): Air Commodore David Atcherley, Senior Air Staff Officer; Group Captain Peter Wykeham-Barnes, Group Captain Operations; Wing Commander H. P. Shallard, Group Intelligence Officer, and AVM Embry.
Born (1904-01-12)12 January 1904
Died 8 June 1952(1952-06-08) (aged 48)
Place of birth York, England
Place of death Lost at sea (Mediterranean Sea)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Air Force
Years of service 1922–1952
Rank Air Vice Marshal
Service number 05168
Commands held
Battles/wars World War II
Awards

Air Vice Marshal David Francis William Atcherley CB CBE DSO DFC (12 January 1904 – 8 June 1952) was a senior Royal Air Force officer.[1]

Early life

David Atcherley and his twin Richard were born on 12 January 1904, and were the sons of Major-General Sir Llewellyn William Atcherley CMG CVO, Chief Constable of the West Riding of Yorkshire,[2] and his wife 'Nellie', Eleanor Frances (1871–1957), daughter of Richard Mickelthwait JP, of Ardsley House, in the valley of Deane near Barnsley. Their father was a grandson of David Francis Atcherley Esq. of Marton Hall, High Sheriff of Shropshire, Serjeant-at-law, Attorney-General of the County Palatine of Lancaster and County Durham. David Atcherley and his brother, first cousins of William Empson, attended Oundle School in Northamptonshire.[2]

RAF career in the Second World War

Atcherley entered Sandhurst Military Academy in 1922 after being rejected for the RAF due to medical grounds. In 1924 he was commissioned into the East Lancashire Regiment. His wish to fly succeeded when he was seconded to the RAF in March 1927. Proving to be an excellent pilot he was able to have his secondment converted into a permanent transfer on 1 October 1929.

At the start of the war he was Commanding Officer of No. 85 Squadron. He commanded No. 253 Squadron in May 1940 and more postings followed rapidly. His gained his first aerial successes as a night fighter when in command of No. 25 Squadron, which was equipped with Beaufighters, early in 1941.

On 28 August 1941 he fractured his neck as a result of a crash after a take off. However, this did not stop him flying, although it did require six ground crew to get him into and out of his aircraft.

Group Captain Atcherley became the Commanding Officer at RAF Fairwood Common in 1942 and was responsible for collecting Oberleutnant Armin Faber from RAF Pembrey when he landed his Focke-Wulf 190 there on 23 June 1942.[3]

In 1942/43 he was in charge of night fighter units during the Tunisia Campaign. Back in Britain later in 1943 more postings and promotions followed.

Towards the end of the war he served in 2 Group, Brussels, 1945, under Basil Embry.[4]

Death

In June 1952, Atcherley was lost at sea, presumed dead whilst piloting a Meteor jet fighter PR Mk.10 ( from No. 13 Squadron). Taking off from RAF Fayid in Egypt at 8:00 am for a 40-minute flight to Nicosia in Cyprus,[5] his aircraft never arrived at Nicosia, and no radio message was received. No trace of Atcherley or his aircraft was ever found despite an extensive air-sea search being carried out by RAF, Israeli, Turkish and USAF aircraft.[6]

Honours and awards

  • 29 July 1941 - Distinguished Flying Cross - Wing Commander David Francis William Atcherley, Royal Air Force.

This officer has carried out a large amount of operational flying at night, sometimes under adverse weather conditions. The efficiency of his squadron and the success it has had is due to Wing Commander Atcherley's drive, energy and leadership. He has destroyed three enemy aircraft at night.

— London Gazette

  • 11 June 1942 - Mentioned in Despathches - Group Captain David Francis William Atcherley, Royal Air Force.
  • 17 September 1943 - Mentioned in Despathches - Group Captain David Francis William Atcherley, Royal Air Force.
  • 14 July 1944 - Distinguished Service Order - Acting Air Commodore David Francis William Atcherley, Royal Air Force.

This officer has completed much, operational flying and has achieved notable successes. He is-a fearless leader, whose iron determination and unswerving devotion to duty have inspired all under his command. In addition to his work in the air Air Commodore Atcherley has displayed a high standard of organising ability and great drive and his services have been of inestimable value.

— London Gazette

  • 1 January 1945 - Mentioned in Despathches - Acting Air Commodore David Francis William Atcherley, Royal Air Force.
  • 1 January 1946 - Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
  • 27 June 1947 - Officer of the Order Van Leopold II with Palm - Air Commodore David Francis William Atcherley, Royal Air Force.
  • 27 June 1947 - OOrlogskruis 1940. Croix de Guerre 1940 with Palm - Air Commodore David Francis William Atcherley, Royal Air Force.


Order of the British Empire (Military) Ribbon.png Dso-ribbon.png DistinguishedFlyingCrossUKRibbon.jpg

War Medal 39-45 BAR MID.png BEL Order of Leopold II - Officer BAR.png BEL Croix de Guerre 1944 ribbon.svg

Order of the British Empire (Military) Ribbon.png Commander of the Order of the British Empire 1 January 1946
Dso-ribbon.png Distinguished Service Order 14 July 1944
DistinguishedFlyingCrossUKRibbon.jpg Distinguished Flying Cross (United Kingdom) 29 July 1941
War Medal 39-45 BAR MID.png War Medal 1939–1945 with Palm for Mentioned in Dispatches 11 June 1942, 17 September 1943, 1 January 1945
BEL Order of Leopold II - Officer BAR.png Officer of the Order of Leopold II with Palm 27 June 1947
BEL Croix de Guerre 1944 ribbon.svg Croix de guerre (Belgium) with Palm 27 June 1947

See also

References

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