Military Wiki
Tom Ince Webb-Bowen
Born (1879-01-17)January 17, 1879
Died October 29, 1956(1956-10-29) (aged 77)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Air Force
Years of service 1890s – 1933
Rank Air Vice-Marshal
Commands held II (AC) Squadron
RAF India
No. 3 Group
Middle East Command
Battles/wars World War I
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George
Mentioned in Despatches (3)

Air Vice-Marshal Sir Tom Ince Webb-Bowen KCB, CMG, RAF (17 January 1879 – 29 October 1956) was a senior commander in the Royal Air Force during the first half of the 20th century.

RAF career

Webb-Bowen was commissioned into the Middlesex Regiment and later served with the Bedfordshire Regiment and the Madras Volunteer Corps.[1] Finding himself unsuited to regimental life, Webb-Bowen learnt to fly in 1912.[1] After several weeks as a Royal Flying Corps flight commander, he was posted to the Central Flying School as an instructor where he later served as the Assistant Commandant.[1]

In March 1915 Major Webb-Bowen took over command of II (AC) Squadron[1] whilst the squadron was located at Merville, France. During his short tenure there were two significant events. Firstly, because of the difficulty suffered by ground troops in communicating their advance to higher command, a technique was developed whereby troops on the ground could convey their position by laying strips of white cloth on the ground. Aircraft from II(AC) Sqn would then relay by WT the co-ordinates noted. The second and more historically significant event was the award of the first Victoria Cross awarded for bravery in the air, to Lt. Rhodes-Moorhouse. Major Webb-Bowen handed over command to Major Becke in June 1915 following his posting to Home Establishment. He continued his war service commanding No. 3 Wing RFC from May 1915, and then as Brigadier-General Commanding first II Brigade RFC, then VII Brigade RFC and then II Brigade RFC again.[1] He commanded these brigades in France and Italy.[2]

After the War he was appointed Air Officer Commanding South Eastern Area and then Air Officer Commanding RAF India.[1] He was appointed Air Officer Commanding No. 3 Group in 1923, Air Officer Commanding Inland Area in 1924[3] and Air Officer Commanding Middle East Command in 1925.[1] He then went on to be Air Member for Personnel in 1930 and Air Officer Commanding Wessex Bombing Area in 1931 before retiring on 26 September 1933.[1]

He was recalled during World War II to be Duty Air Commodore in the Operations Room at Headquarters Fighter Command.[1]

Honours and awards


Military offices
Preceded by
H M Trenchard
Assistant Commandant of the Central Flying School
7 August 1914 – 8 March 1915
Succeeded by
D le G Pitcher
Preceded by
G W P Dawes
Officer Commanding No. 2 Squadron
8 March – 27 May 1915
Succeeded by
J H W Becke
Preceded by
H R M Brooke-Popham
Officer Commanding No. 3 Wing
27 May – 2 June 1915
Succeeded by
J F A Higgins
Preceded by
J M Salmond
Brigadier-General Commanding 2nd Brigade RFC
1916 – 1917
Succeeded by
J H W Becke
New title
Brigade established
Brigadier-General Commanding 7th Brigade RFC
1917 – 1918
Brigade disbanded
Title next held by C L Lambe in 1918
Preceded by
J H W Becke
Brigadier-General Commanding 2nd Brigade RFC
Brigade disbanded
New title
Formed from Indian Group
Air Officer Commanding RAF India
Succeeded by
P W Game
Title last held by
A M Longmore
Air Officer Commanding No. 3 Group
1923 – 1924
Succeeded by
L E O Charlton
Preceded by
O Swann
Air Officer Commanding Middle East Command
1926 – 1929
Succeeded by
F R Scarlett
Preceded by
Sir John Salmond
Air Member for Personnel
1930 – 1931
Succeeded by
Sir Edward Ellington

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