Richard Williams
RAAF Chief of the Air Staff
Richard Williams
Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams KBE, CB, DSO is widely regarded as the "father" of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). He was the first military pilot trained in Australia, and went on to command Australian and British fighter units in World War I. A proponent for air power independent of other branches of the armed services, Williams played a leading role in the establishment of the RAAF and became its first Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) in 1922.
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Sense of fear lingers in Okla. on 9/11 anniversary - The Associated Press
Google News - over 5 years
11, Richard Williams felt an awkward kinship with New York and Washington. Williams, who needed 150 stitches to close wounds on the right side of his body after the Oklahoma City bombing and lost dozens of colleagues and friends in the attack,
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ON TENNIS; Madison Keys Is Among U.S. Youngsters Following Williams Sisters
NYTimes - over 5 years
The story goes that 4-year-old Madison Keys picked up a racket for the first time because she liked the way Venus Williams looked in her stylish tennis dress. Twelve years later, on the day Williams exited the scene ominously without striking a ball, Keys looked like a budding star inside a body that is well suited for 21st century women’s
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Serena Williams' dad says he doesn't care if she wins US open - as long as ... - The Daily Telegraph
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Source: AFP Richard Williams is not worried about whether his daughter Serena will win the US Open - he's just happy she's alive. Normally brash with his predictions, Richard Williams is just happy his youngest daughter is alive after surviving last
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New Jersey men charged - Towanda Daily Review
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The state police charges follow additional charges against Richard Williams made July 20 by Athens Borough police. Richard Williams was arrested and charged with theft by deception and deceptive business practices in response to two complaints made by
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With Williams Sisters as Model, Prospect Tries to Find Her Way - New York Times
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Taylor Townsend, 15, lost in qualifying but impressed Richard Williams: “I think she's better than my daughters at that time.” By JORGE CASTILLO The scene in Flushing was familiar: a female African-American player with a loud, aggressive playing style
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Fire-Damaged Church Committed to Outreach - 13WHAM-TV
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Rochester , NY - Pastor of True Gospel World Wide, Richard Williams was out of town when he got the news his church was on fire. "It was hurting to know that the building was burned and we couldn't feed them [the needy] from the inside,” said Williams
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SPECIAL REPORT: FORMULA ONE; The Transcendent Life of Ayrton Senna, From Track to Screen
NYTimes - over 5 years
When Ayrton Senna died at the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola on May 1, 1994, the BBC racing commentator Murray Walker predicted that the Brazilian driver would become ''a legend which will grow and grow as coming generations appreciate his achievements.'' With Formula One preparing for the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend, 20 years after the
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Family Members, Injured Trooper Recount Deadly Standoff - WNEP-TV
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State Trooper Richard Williams said he is thankful the bullet that hit him during file this standoff in Brodheadsville was part of shotgun pellet, not another type of ammunition. "I was really shocked he would fire upon a marked state police vehicle
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Richard Williams home-made U-boat sailing an English canal - Daily Mail
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Complete with periscope and dummy torpedoes, U-8047 is the creation of 51-year-old Richard Williams. This Captain Birdseye lookalike is a former mobility scooter salesman who has spent more than £50000 building what, of late, has proved to be something
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Richard Williams
  • 1980
    Age 89
    Died on February 7, 1980.
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  • 1977
    Age 86
    In 1977, Williams published his memoirs, These Are Facts, described in 2001 as "immensely important if idiosyncratic... the only substantial, worthwhile record of service ever written by an RAAF chief of staff". Sir Richard Williams died in Melbourne on 7 February 1980.
    More Details Hide Details He was accorded an Air Force funeral, with a flypast by seventeen aircraft. box For his stewardship of the Air Force prior to World War II, as well as his part in its establishment in 1921, Williams is considered the "father" of the RAAF. The epithet had earlier been applied to Eric Harrison, who had sole charge of Central Flying School after Henry Petre was posted to the Middle East in 1915, and was also a founding member of the RAAF. By the 1970s, however, the mantle had settled on Williams. Between the wars he had continually striven for his service's status as a separate branch of the Australian armed forces, seeing off a number of challenges to its independence from Army and Navy interests. He remains the RAAF's longest-serving Chief, totalling thirteen years over three terms: October to December 1922; February 1925 to December 1932; and June 1934 to February 1939.
  • 1954
    Age 63
    He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the 1954 New Year Honours, the year before he retired from the Director-Generalship of Civil Aviation.
    More Details Hide Details He then took up a place on the board of Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL), forerunner of Air New Zealand.
  • 1942
    Age 51
    When Air Chief Marshal Burnett completed his term in 1942, Williams was once more considered for the role of CAS.
    More Details Hide Details This was vetoed by Prime Minister John Curtin and the appointment unexpectedly went to acting Air Commodore George Jones. A mooted Inspector Generalship of the Air Force, which would have seen Williams reporting directly to the Minister for Air, also failed to materialise. Instead Williams was posted to Washington, D.C. as the RAAF's representative to the Combined Chiefs of Staff in the United States, and remained there until the end of the war. In 1946, Williams was forced into retirement despite being four years below the mandatory age of 60. All other senior RAAF commanders who were veteran pilots of World War I, with the exception of the-then Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Jones, were also dismissed, ostensibly to make way for the advancement of younger officers. Williams regarded the grounds for his removal as "specious", calling it "the meanest piece of service administration in my experience".
  • 1940
    Age 49
    Goble had succeeded Williams as Chief of the Air Staff for the last time but clashed with the Federal government over implementation of the Empire Air Training Scheme and stepped down in early 1940.
    More Details Hide Details Williams was recalled from Britain with the expectation of again taking up the RAAF's senior position but Prime Minister Robert Menzies insisted on a British officer commanding the service, over the protest of his Minister for Air, James Fairbairn, and the RAF's Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Burnett became CAS. In his volume in the official history of the Air Force in World War II, Douglas Gillison observed that considering Williams' intimate knowledge of the RAAF and its problems, and his long experience commanding the service, "it is difficult to see what contribution Burnett was expected to make that was beyond Williams' capacity". Williams was appointed Air Member for Organisation and Equipment and promoted to air marshal, the first man in the RAAF to achieve this rank. Williams returned to England in October 1941 to set up RAAF Overseas Headquarters, co-ordinating services for the many Australians posted there. He maintained that Australian airmen in Europe and the Mediterranean should serve in RAAF units to preserve their national identity, as per Article XV of the Empire Air Training Scheme, rather than be integrated into RAF squadrons, but in practice most served in British units. Even nominally "RAAF" squadrons formed under the Scheme were rarely composed primarily of Australians, and Williams' efforts to establish a distinct RAAF Group within Bomber Command, similar to the Royal Canadian Air Force's No. 6 Group, did not come to fruition. He was able to negotiate improved conditions for RAAF personnel in Europe, including full Australian pay scales as opposed to the lower RAF rates that were offered initially.
  • 1939
    Age 48
    When war broke out in September 1939, Williams was Air Officer in charge of Administration at RAF Coastal Command, a position he had held since February that year, following a brief posting to the British Air Ministry.
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    In 1939 Williams was dismissed from his post as CAS and "effectively banished overseas", following publication of the Ellington Report that January.
    More Details Hide Details Its author, Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Edward Leonard Ellington, criticised the level of air safety observed in the RAAF, though his interpretation of statistics has been called into question. The Federal government praised Williams for strengthening the Air Force but blamed him for Ellington's findings, and he was criticised in the press. Beyond the adverse report, Williams was thought to have "made enemies" through his strident championing of the RAAF's independence. A later CAS, George Jones, contended that Ellington had been "invited to Australia in order to inspect Williams rather than the air force and to recommend his removal from the post of Chief of the Air Staff if necessary". The government announced that it was seconding him to the RAF for two years.
  • 1937
    Age 46
    A series of mishaps with Hawker Demons at the end of 1937, which resulted in one pilot dying and four injured, subjected the Air Force to harsh public criticism.
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  • 1936
    Age 45
    Williams encouraged the local aircraft industry as a means to further the self-sufficiency of the Air Force and Australian aviation in general. He played a personal part in the creation of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation in November 1936, headed up by former Squadron Leader Lawrence Wackett, late of the RAAF's Experimental Section.
    More Details Hide Details Williams made the first overseas flight in an aeroplane designed and built in Australia when he accompanied Squadron Leader Allan Walters and two aircrew aboard a Tugan Gannet to Singapore in February 1938.
  • 1935
    Age 44
    His promotion to air vice marshal on 1 January 1935 belatedly raised him to the equivalent rank of his fellow Chiefs of Staff in the Army and Navy.
    More Details Hide Details He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in June that year.
  • 1933
    Age 42
    Williams again handed over the reins of CAS to Goble in 1933 to attend the Imperial Defence College in London, resuming his position in June 1934.
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  • 1932
    Age 41
    According to Williams, only after 1932 was the independence of the Air Force assured.
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  • 1927
    Age 36
    Williams was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1927 King's Birthday Honours in recognition of the achievement, and promoted to air commodore on 1 July the same year.
    More Details Hide Details As CAS, Williams had to contend with serious challenges to the RAAF's continued existence from the Army and Navy in 1929 and 1932, arising from the competing demands for defence funding during the Great Depression.
  • 1926
    Age 35
    In 1926, Williams mandated the use of parachutes for all RAAF aircrew.
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  • 1924
    Age 33
    The young Air Force was a small organisation with the atmosphere of a flying club, although several pioneering flights were made by its members. Goble had commanded the first circumnavigation of Australia by air in 1924 while he was CAS.
    More Details Hide Details On 25 September 1926, with two crew members including Goble's pilot, Ivor McIntyre, Williams commenced a round trip from Point Cook to the Solomon Islands in a De Havilland DH.50A floatplane, to study the South Pacific region as a possible theatre of operations. The trio returned on 7 December to a 12-plane RAAF escort and a 300-man honour guard. Though seen partly as a "matter of prestige" brought on by contemporary newspaper reports that claimed "'certain Foreign Powers'" were planning such a journey, and also as a "reaction" by Williams to Goble's 1924 expedition, it was notable as the first international flight undertaken by an RAAF plane and crew.
    He had visited the Irvin Air Chute Company while in the US during 1924 and recommended purchase at the time, but a backlog of orders for the RAF meant that the Australian equipment took almost two years to arrive.
    More Details Hide Details Flying Officer Ellis Wackett was assigned to instruct volunteers at RAAF Richmond, and made the country's first freefall descent from a military aircraft, an Airco DH.9, on 26 May. Williams himself jumped over Point Cook on 5 August, having decided that it would set "a good example if, before issuing an order for the compulsory wearing of parachutes, I showed my own confidence in them " Though his descent took him perilously close to the base water tank ("I thought it would be a poor ending to drown there, or even to be pulled out dripping wet") and "too close to be comfortable to a 30,000 volt electric transmission line", he completed the exercise unscathed.
  • 1922
    Age 31
    The position of First Air Member was replaced by Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) in October 1922.
    More Details Hide Details Williams would serve as CAS three times over seventeen years in the 1920s and '30s, alternating with Wing Commander (later Air Vice Marshal) Stanley Goble. One motive suggested for the rotation was a ploy by Army and Navy interests to "curb Williams' independence". Instead the arrangement "almost inevitably fostered an unproductive rivalry" between the two officers. Although in a legal sense the Air Board was responsible for the RAAF rather than the Chief of Staff alone, Williams dominated the board to such an extent that Goble would later complain that his colleague appeared to consider the Air Force his personal command. Williams spent much of 1923 in England, attending the British Army Staff College in Camberley and RAF Staff College, Andover, followed by further study in Canada and the United States the following year. Goble served as Chief of the Air Staff in his absence. Shortly after his return in February 1925, Williams scuppered a plan by Goble to establish a small seaplane base at Rushcutters Bay in Sydney, instead organising purchase of Supermarine Seagulls, the RAAF's first amphibious aircraft, to be based at Richmond. He was promoted to group captain in July and later that year drafted a major air warfare study, "Memorandum Regarding the Air Defence of Australia". Considered prescient in many ways, it treated World War I ally Japan as Australia's main military threat, and advocated inter-service co-operation while maintaining that none of the armed forces was "purely auxiliary to another".
  • 1921
    Age 30
    Williams proposed an ensign for the AAF in July 1921, based on the Royal Air Force flag but featuring the five stars of the Southern Cross within the RAF roundel and the Commonwealth Star in the lower hoist quarter.
    More Details Hide Details This design was not adopted for the RAAF, the government employing instead a direct copy of the RAF ensign until 1949, when a new design using the stars of the Australian Flag was chosen. As the senior officer of the Air Board, Williams held the title of First Air Member, the nascent Air Force initially not being deemed suitable for a "Chief of Staff" appointment equivalent to the Army and Navy. He moved to consolidate the new service's position by expanding its assets and training. Shortly after the AAF's establishment, land was purchased for an air base at Laverton, eight kilometres (five miles) inland of Point Cook, and in July 1921 Williams made the initial proposal to develop a base at Richmond, New South Wales, the first outside Victoria. He also started a program to second students from the Army and Navy, including graduates of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, to bolster officer numbers; candidates reaped by this scheme included future Air Force chiefs John McCauley, Frederick Scherger, Valston Hancock and Alister Murdoch, along with other senior identities such as Joe Hewitt and Frank Bladin. As a leader, Williams would gain a reputation for strong will, absorption in administrative minutiae and a "somewhat puritanical" nature. He became known throughout the service as "Dicky".
  • 1920
    Age 29
    Upon establishment of the Australian Air Board on 9 November 1920, Williams and his fellow AAC officers dropped their army ranks in favour of those based on the Royal Air Force.
    More Details Hide Details Williams, now a wing commander, personally compiled and tabled the Air Board's submissions to create the Australian Air Force (AAF), a service independent of both the Army and the Royal Australian Navy. Though the heads of the Army and Navy opposed the creation of an independent air arm for fear that they would be unable to find air cover for their operations, support from Prime Minister Billy Hughes, as well as prominent parliamentary figures including Treasurer Joseph Cook and Defence Minister George Pearce allowed the proposal to succeed. The AAF was duly formed on 31 March 1921; Williams deliberately chose this day rather than 1 April, the founding date of the RAF three years earlier, "to prevent nasty people referring to us as 'April Fools'". The "Royal" prefix was added five months later.
  • 1919
    Age 28
    Appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 1919 New Year Honours, Williams served as Staff Officer, Aviation, at Australian Imperial Force (AIF) headquarters in London, before returning to Australia and taking up the position of Director of Air Services at Army Headquarters, Melbourne.
    More Details Hide Details The Australian Flying Corps had meanwhile been disbanded and replaced by the Australian Air Corps (AAC) which was, like the AFC, a branch of the Army.
  • 1917
    Age 26
    On 5 March 1917, shortly after commencing operations with No. 1 Squadron, Williams narrowly avoided crash-landing when his engine stopped while he was bombing the railway terminus at Tel el Sheria.
    More Details Hide Details At first believing that he had been struck by enemy fire, he found that the engine switch outside his cockpit had turned off. Within 500 feet of the ground he was able to switch the engine back on and return to base. On 21 April, Williams landed behind enemy lines to rescue downed comrade Lieutenant Adrian Cole, having the day before pressed home an attack on Turkish cavalry whilst under "intense anti-aircraft fire"; these two actions earned him the Distinguished Service Order for "conspicuous gallantry". He was promoted major in May and given command of No. 1 Squadron, which was re-equipped with Bristol Fighters later that year. "Now for the first time," wrote Williams, "after 17 months in the field we had aircraft with which we could deal with our enemy in the air." His men knew him as a teetotaller and non-smoker, whose idea of swearing was an occasional "Darn me!".
    Williams completed his RFC attachment in February 1917.
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  • 1911
    Age 20
    Commissioned a second lieutenant on 8 March 1911, he joined the Permanent Military Forces the following year.
    More Details Hide Details In August 1914, Lieutenant Williams took part in Australia's inaugural military flying course at Central Flying School, run by Lieutenants Henry Petre and Eric Harrison. After soloing in a Bristol Boxkite around the airfield at Point Cook, Victoria, Williams became the first student to graduate as a pilot, on 12 November 1914. He recalled the school as a "ragtime show" consisting of a paddock, tents, and one large structure: a shed for the Boxkite. Following an administrative and instructional posting, Williams underwent advanced flying training at Point Cook in July 1915. The next month he married Constance Esther Griffiths, who was thirteen years his senior. The couple had no children. Williams was promoted captain on 5 January 1916. He was appointed a flight commander in No. 1 Squadron Australian Flying Corps (AFC), which was initially numbered 67 Squadron Royal Flying Corps by the British. The unit departed Australia in March 1916 without any aircraft; after arriving in Egypt it received B.E.2 fighters, a type deficient in speed and manoeuvrability, and which lacked forward-firing machine guns. Williams wrote that in combat with the German Fokkers, "our fighting in the air was of short duration but could mean a quick end", and that when it came to bombing, he and his fellow pilots "depended mainly on luck". He further quoted a truism in the Flying Corps that "if a new pilot got through his first three days without being shot down he was lucky; if he got through three weeks he was doing well and if he got through three months he was set.
  • 1909
    Age 18
    He enlisted in a militia unit, the South Australian Infantry Regiment, in 1909 at the age of nineteen.
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  • 1890
    Born on August 3, 1890.
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