Chief of Naval Air Services

Oral Answers to Questions — Royal Navy – in the House of Commons on 14th October 1942.

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Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the previous experience of flying and service with the Fleet Air Arm of the present Chief of Naval Air Services?

Photo of Mr George Hall Mr George Hall , Merthyr Tydfil Aberdare

Although the present Chief of Naval Air Services has not served in the Fleet Air Arm, he has had considerable experience of this Service in important sea appointments during his distinguished career. Both as Flag Officer in command of the Battle Cruiser Squadron, which in those days included the aircraft carriers of the Home Fleet, and as Commander-in-Chief, China, he has had operational and administrative control of important units of the Fleet Air Arm. Admiral Dreyer was also for 2½ years Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff during a period when one of the functions of that appointment was the superintendence of naval air work.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

With the greatest possible respect for this very distinguished Admiral, may I ask whether there is no younger man with practical experience of flying who could suitably be promoted to fill this very important position?

Photo of Mr George Hall Mr George Hall , Merthyr Tydfil Aberdare

There is no suggestion that there is not such a person, but, at the same time, it was felt by the Board of Admiralty that, taking into consideration the difficulties of that time, Admiral Dreyer was the most suitable person to occupy the post.

Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton

How long is it since this Admiral was on the active list?

Photo of Admiral Sir Roger Keyes Admiral Sir Roger Keyes , Portsmouth North

Is not the Minister aware that there are naval officers who have had very considerable flying experience in the Fleet Air Arm but who have not been employed in connection with naval aviation during the whole course of this war?

Photo of Commander Sir Archibald Southby Commander Sir Archibald Southby , Epsom

Is it not a fact that there are junior flag officers who have had long experience in the Fleet Air Arm and who have not been employed, although they are perfectly capable of taking this job, instead of an elderly, though very distinguished, flag officer being brought back?

Photo of Mr George Hall Mr George Hall , Merthyr Tydfil Aberdare

That does not alter the fact that when Admiral Dreyer was appointed he was regarded as the most suitable man for the post.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Cambridge University

Can the Minister say what were the dates of the experience to which he alluded, and what were the services of the Admiral for five years before this appointment?

Photo of Mr George Hall Mr George Hall , Merthyr Tydfil Aberdare

I could not, without notice.