Wing Commander Andrew Nicholson COMBE AFC MiD

Wing Commander Combes

Andrew Nicholson Combe


In Brief

Born 7th July 1911, Kensington, London.
Son of Robert George Nicholson Combe.
Married Eillen Jessop, May 1939
Retired 1957
Died March 1978, Cromer, Norfolk aged 66.

Ex Rugby School
Passed entry exam to Cranwell June 1930
Awarded Air Council prize cadetship for 2 yrs
RAF College, Cranwell (Winner of Sword of Honour)

Pilot Officer 23rd July 1932

Posted to RAF Base Calshot 23rd July 1932 for flying boat navigational course.

Posted No.201 (Flying Boat) Squadron, Basra 19th March 1933.

Flying Officer 23rd January 1934

Posted to No.203 (Flying Boat) Squadron Basra, Iraq 5th March 1934. Squadron equipped with the Short Rangoon and Short Southampton flying boats.

Posted Air Armament School, Eastchurch 6th January 1936

Successful in Promotion Exam ‘B’ 10-13 March 1936

Flight Lieutenant 1st October 1936

Posted to No.11 Flying Training School for specialist armament course at Air Armament School, Eastchurch February 1937

Squadron Leader 1st February 1939

Awarded the Air Force Cross ‘in recognition of services rendered in connection with the Long range Development Unit which flew non stop from Ishmalia, Egypt to Port Darwin, Australia on November 5-7 1938 establishing a world’s long distance record.

With No.71 Wing 28th June 1940

Posted to No.218 Squadron 13th July 1940

Posted off No.218 Squadron 6th February 1941 to HQ Bomber Command

Temporary Wing Commander 1st March 1941

Wing Commander (W/S) 6th December 1943

Temporary Group Captain 1st July 1944

May have spent some time in the United States

Relinquished Temporary Group Captain 1st November 1947

Awarded Bronze Star Medal (USA) (as G/Capt) as per LG 15th March 1946

Retired 29th September 1957 as Wing Commander. Retaining rank of Group Captain.

The arrival of Wing Commander Combe brought with it a wealth of pre-war experience. Combe was a highly regarded officer having cut his teeth in the RAF in the thirties. During this period he had undertaken numerous courses in including two specialising in armaments.  In between courses he found himself  posted to various flying boat squadrons in the Middle East. His most noticeable period was when he was part of the Long Range Development Flight (L.R.D.F). On November 5th 1938 F/Lt Combe was the pilot of Wellesley L2680, under the leadership of Squadron Leader Kellett  three Wellesley’s took off from Ismailia’s 3,6000ft runway and set out for Australia.  The take-off weight of each Wellesley was staggering 18,400lb, it had been agreed amongst the crews that the optimum operating height would be 10,000ft.  After 12 hours flying the weather became adverse while over the Bay of Bengal, it would continue to deteriorate all along the route. Pressing on the three crews encountered yet more adverse weather over the South China Sea, heavy rain and lighting and mountainous cloud formations welcomed the crews as they headed towards the Dutch East Indies. It was here that F/Lt Hogan landed due to shortage of fuel. Both S/Ldr Kellett and F/Lt Combe continued on, after 48 hours in the air they both landed at Ross Smith airfield, Darwin. This flight of endurance of some 7,157.7 miles stood until 1946.  

During his tenure of command Wing Commander Combe oversaw the squadron’s re-equipment and re-establishment as a front line squadron within No.2 Group. The stay in No.2 Group was short lived, the squadron would be re-equipped with the Vickers Wellington and transferred to No.3 Group Bomber Command to carry-out night bombing raids. Wing Commander Combe AFC was instrumental in this and guided the squadron throughout this period. During his tenure with the squadron he did not undertake any operational raids.



Vickers Wellesley of the Long Range Development Flight


Vickers Wellesley of the L.R.D.F


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