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The Airmen's Stories - S/Ldr. F E Rosier


Frederick Ernest Rosier, the son of a railway engineer on the Great Western Railway, was born on 13th October 1915 at Wrexham and educated at Grove Park School there. He played for North Wales Schoolboys at rugby. He joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his initial flying course on 26th August 1935.

He was posted to 11 FTS Wittering on 2nd November and with his training completed he joined 43 Squadron at Tangmere on 11th May 1936. Rosier later became 'B' Flight Commander.

Rosier was posted away from 43 Squadron on 27th August 1939 to the RAF School of Aeronautical Engineering, Henlow. On 5th October 1939 he joined 229 Squadron at its formation at Digby as 'B' Flight Commander with the rank of Acting Flight Lieutenant.


 'Fellow fighter commanders in the Desert war: Rosier (right) and Kenneth 'Bing' Cross in 1942'


On 16th May 1940 Rosier led a 229 Squadron detachment to France. On the 18th he destroyed a Me109 and damaged another. On another sortie later the same day, he was shot down in Hurricane L2142 and baled out, badly burned, near Vitry. Rosier was sent back to England on the 23rd, via Dieppe.

After recovering Rosier was at No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge, awaiting a posting. On 6th October 1940 he rejoined 229 Squadron, then at Northolt, as a supernumerary. When the CO, S/Ldr. AJ Banham, was shot down and wounded on 15th October Rosier took command on the 19th as an Acting Squadron Leader.

He embarked the squadron on the aircraft carrier HMS Furious on 10th May 1941, bound for the Middle East. The pilots flew their Hurricanes off to Malta on the 21st, refuelled there and then flew on to Mersa Matruh.

The 229 pilots were attached to 73 and 274 Squadrons in the Western Desert for operations. On 1st September 1941 229 began functioning again as a squadron, its ground personnel having at last arrived in Egypt. It began night defence operations.

Rosier was posted away in October 1941 to lead the newly-formed 262 Wing.

He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 13th February 1942).

The citation mentioned one occasion when Rosier saw a pilot forced to land in enemy territory. In an attempt to rescue him he landed to pick the man up but was unable to take off again because of the closeness of the enemy. Both pilots eventually got away and after some narrow escapes, regained their base after three days.

Rosier later went to a staff appointment with 211 Fighter Group. He returned to the UK in 1943 and was made an OBE (gazetted 2nd June 1943). He commanded 52 OTU and later became Station Commander at Northolt. At the end of the war he was Group Captain Operations at 84 Group. He was made a Commander, Order of Orange Nassau in 1947.

Rosier subsequently dealt with Group Captain Operations at the Central Flying Establishment, and then, under Lord Mountbatten, was the first director of the Joint Planning Staff. From 1956 to 1958 he was an ADC to the Queen.

In 1961 he was posted to Aden as Air Officer Commanding Air Forces, Middle East - an appointment for which his wartime desert experience suited him well. He arrived in the wake of the Kuwait crisis, and was confronted by tribal unrest in the Aden protectorates and hostile moves from Yemen.

In 1964 he returned home as Senior Air Staff Officer at Transport Command, moving over in 1966 to Fighter Command as Commander-in-Chief. He was its last C-in-C before it was amalgamated with Bomber Command to form Strike Command.

From 1968 Rosier served as the British representative on the Permanent Military Deputies Group at the Central Treaty Organisation in Ankara, Turkey. He was promoted to Air Chief Marshal in 1970, and became Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces Central Europe in Brunssum in The Netherlands.

Rosier retired in 1973 and was appointed Military Adviser and Director of the British Aircraft Corporation at Preston. He later served on the board of BAC in Saudi Arabia, paving the way for the Al Yamamah arms deal.

He was made a CBE (gazetted 1st January 1955), a CB (gazetted 31st December 1960), a KCB (gazetted 11th June 1961) and a GCB (gazetted 3rd June 1972).

He died on 10th September 1998.

In May 2011 a plaque was unveiled in his memory at what is now the Grove Park campus of Yale College.

His portrait was made by William Dring.



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