Jack Higgins (RAF officer)

Air Marshal Sir John Frederick Andrews Higgins, KCB, KBE, DSO, AFC (1 September 1875 – 1 June 1948), known as Jack Higgins, was a senior officer in the Royal Flying Corps, serving as a brigade commander from 1915 to 1918. After the First World War he served in a range of senior posts in the Royal Air Force until his retirement in 1930. He returned to active service for the first year of the Second World War.

John Frederick Andrews Higgins
Born(1875-09-01)1 September 1875
Died1 June 1948(1948-06-01) (aged 72)
Leamington, England
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Royal Air Force
Years of service1895–1930
RankAir Marshal
Commands heldAir Forces in India (1939–40)
Air Member for Supply and Research (1926–30)
Iraq Command (1924–26)
Inland Area (1922–24)
Northern Area (1919–20)
RAF Rhine (1919)
Midland Area (1918–19)
No. 3 Area (1918)
III Brigade RFC (1916–18)
VI Brigade RFC (1916)
II Brigade RFC (1915–16)
RFC Training Wing (1914–15)
No. 5 Squadron RFC (1913–14)
Battles/warsSecond Boer War
First World War
Second World War
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Air Force Cross
Mentioned in Despatches (6)
Officer of the Legion of Honour (France)
Other workDirector of Air Service Training Ltd

RAF career

Higgins became a cadet at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and was commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery as a second lieutenant on 15 June 1895, and promoted to lieutenant on 15 June 1898. He served in the Second Boer War in South Africa, where he took part in the operations in Natal in 1899, including actions at Rietfontein and Lombard's Kop. Severely wounded in early January 1900, during the Defence of Ladysmith, he was later back in action and was promoted to captain on 15 March 1901.[1] After the end of the war in June 1902, Higgins left Cape Town in the SS Bavarian in August, returning to Southampton the following month.[2] For his service during the war, he was mentioned in despatches and awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) dated 29 November 1900.[3]

After his return, he was posted at Ammunition Park, Aldershot Garrison. He served as Officer Commanding No. 5 Squadron from July 1913 and then at the start of November 1914, Higgins was selected to head up the RFC's training wing which was based at Netheravon.[4] He went on to command II Brigade RFC, VI Brigade RFC and then III Brigade RFC during the course of the First World War.[5] In the closing stages of the war he was General Officer Commanding No. 3 Area and then General Officer Commanding Midland Area.[5]

After the War he was appointed General Officer Commanding RAF forces of the Rhine and then Air Officer Commanding Northern Area before becoming Director of Personnel at the Air Ministry in 1920.[5] He went on to be Air Officer Commanding Inland Area in 1922, Air Officer Commanding Iraq Command in 1924 and Air Member for Supply and Research in 1926.[5] He retired to India in 1930 but was recalled as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Air Forces in India in October 1939 at the start of the Second World War before retiring again in August 1940.[5]


  1. Hart′s Army list, 1903
  2. "The Army in South Africa - Troops returning home". The Times (36856). London. 26 August 1902. p. 4.
  3. "No. 27359". The London Gazette. 27 September 1901. p. 6308.
  4. Macmillan, Norman. Sir Sefton Brancker p. 81
  5. Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation – Air Marshal Sir John Higgins
Military offices
New title
Squadron formed
Officer Commanding No. 5 Squadron
Succeeded by
Archibald MacLean
New title
Wing formed from elements of the Military Wing
Officer Commanding No. 4 (Training) Wing
9 November 1914 – 1915
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Tom Webb-Bowen
Officer Commanding No. 3 Wing
2 June – 25 August 1915
Succeeded by
Sefton Brancker
New title
Brigade formed
Brigadier-General Commanding 2nd Brigade RFC
23 October 1915 – 15 January 1916
2nd Brigade re-designated as the 6th Brigade
Title next held by
John Salmond
In February 1916
New title
Brigade formed by re-designating the 2nd Brigade
Brigadier-General Commanding 6th Brigade RFC
15–30 January 1916
Succeeded by
New title
Brigade formed
Brigadier-General Commanding 3rd Brigade RFC
RAF from 1 April 1918

30 January 1916 – 29 April 1918
Succeeded by
Charles Longcroft
Preceded by
Cecil Lambert
RAF Director of Personnel
Succeeded by
Preceded by
John Salmond
Air Officer Commanding Iraq Command
Succeeded by
Edward Ellington
Preceded by
Sir Geoffrey Salmond
Air Member for Supply and Research
27 December 1926 – 1 September 1930
Succeeded by
Hugh Dowding
Preceded by
Sir Philip Joubert de la Ferté
Commander-in-Chief, Air Forces in India
Succeeded by
Sir Patrick Playfair
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