Rank vs Age

Simply because it was part of a job lot I picked up a book online called "Flying Start" by Group Captain Sir Hugh Dundas. So far it's been a very enjoyable read on the commute to & from work but the bit that caught my attention was the age of the fella concerned as per below i.e.:

- Pilot Officer aged 18yo
- Flight Lieutenant aged 20yo
- Sqd Leader aged aged 21yo
- Wing Commander aged 22yo
- Group Captain aged 24yo

Now I appreciate this was wartime but was this rank progression peculiar to the RAF or did the army also have similar examples?

Wasn't Enoch Powell a Brigadier in his early thirties - having been promoted all the way from Private in six years of war service?
Brigadier (Sustantiative Captain) Michael Carver GOC 4 Armd Bde aged 26 in 1944 and aged 44 in 1962.(?)

The 16 year old paratroop soldier in Banville CGWC

Brigadier Roland Bradford V.C., D.S.O., M.C appointed 10 Nov 1917 KIA Cambrai Hermies CWGC aged 24 (CO 9 DLI aged 23)

Pte Strudwick KIA aged 15 - having served one year including 6 months on the Western Front Essex Farm CWGC

Pte Condon KIA aged 14 Poelcappelle CGWC

There is another tale of RAF youth. Tom Dobney joined the RAF aged 14 and became a pilot aged 15 years and three months. His mum caught him out when he went home wearing pilot wings, even though he had promised he was doing a safe job on the ground. By this time he had already flown several missions over France as a Whitley pilot. He found the responisbility for fcommandign the aircraft andf being responsible for four adiuults too stressful and had applied to transfer to singe seat aircraft.
Indeed rank in war time is largely, especially in the flying ranks of the RAF, down to the abilty to survive. I remember visiting a commonwealth war cemetary in Skopje where all of the officers (capt and above) and SNCO's were aged in their very early 20's and the privates were 27+. This was down to the fact that they had all survived the arly days in the trenches in France and gained rank through experience and the fact that there was no one left to promote. The older privates were from the second and third drafts. I remeber reading of a Para CSM who was killed at Arnhem aged just 24.
we was on a battle field tour last weekend at the somme & we was up at the Ulster Tower were we had a tour around the wood from where the advance started on the day of the somme.

The tour guide had been passed by one of the relatives about 6 weeks ago a copy of a soldiers diary from the battle. he was Corporal who was part of the Pioneer platoon of one of the irish units in the area at the time.

in he extract from his diary talking about the first day of the battle near Ulster tower, they was due to set off the gas in the small tunnels, but it went wrong so they turned off the gas & few days later they went to dispose of the bottles in a swamp at the bottom of the Hill wear the platoon sgt got a wiff of the gas & it killed him, the Corporal who wrote the diary was promoted to platoon Sgt on there return that Day, it also goes on to further say that due to fighting that was taking place a few days later the platoon commander was killed & he was promoted to platoon cammander.

It shows that during war in those days they lost a lot of good men & combat experiance means alot to the leaders of the unit which shows from this one story how quick things can happen. so yes i think after they lost 20,000 men in the first day at the battle of the somme there would be a lot of quick promotions. it was all ranks being injured or killed from col downwards
REG002 said:
I think that Wg Cdr (Lt Col) Guy Gibson was only 26 wen he led the raids on the dams.
He was 24 (The raid was staged a couple of months before his 25th birthday) but he was actually promoted to Wg Cdr and given command of a squadron (106 Sqn) at the age of 23.

He was killed about a month after his 26th birthday.

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