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AVM Walter Charles Sheen CB DSO OBE

Walter Sheen 49 Sqn

Walter Sheen as OC 49 Sqn early in the war.

Like many of these pre war RAF types Walter Sheen, a former Halton Old Boy, had a very interesting and varied career and, in his case, a long one.

Walter was born in 1907 and joined the RAF as an Air Apprentice at No 1 School of Technical Training at Halton in 1923. He later qualified as a pilot and was commissioned in 1930.

Also in that year he completed a Flying Instructors Course at the Central Flying School. As a Qualified Flying Instructor he served at No 3 FTS and the CFS. At this time Walter was a member  of the CFS's aerobatic team equipped with Avro Tutors.

In 1934 he was transferred to 207 Sqn as a pilot and probably served abroad at this time.

In 1936 he became Flying Examining Officer, Superintendent of RAF Reserve/CFS/HQ No 26 Group. With the continued expansion of the RAF Walter was posted to 106 Sqn as Officer Commanding in Sept 1938. At the time this unit was flying Fairey Battles, Avro Ansons and finally Handley Page Hampdens

On the 2nd Dec 1939 Walter became OC of 49 Sqn at Scampton. This was another Hampden Squadron. He flew several operational sorties his time he was awarded a DSO in 1940

In 1943 he was Senior Air Staff Officer HQ No 92 Group – Training.

In 1944 around May Walter took over as OC 13 Base replacing Ronald Ivelaw-Chapman. Later that year he appointed OC RAF Manston followed, in 1945, by his appointment Deputy Director of (Bomber) operations. He was awarded an OBE in Jan 1946.

He seems to have remained in that role until June 1950 when he became OC RAF Binbrook in Lincolnshire. On the 23rd Mar 1955 he became Director General of Manning. He was awarded a CB in Jan 1955 and was promoted AVM in July the same year.

Finally, in March 1958,  Walter was appointed Commander, RAF Staff - British Joint Services Mission, Washington. That must have been a splendid job. On 16 April 1959 he was an observer at the first live launch of Thor IRBM by an RAF crew at Vandenburg AFB.

Walter Sheen retired on the 13th May 1961 and sadly passed away on the 31st Oct 1969.

He was clearly an interesting chap of considerable merit and ability. Officers of this calibre were the back bone of the RAF in WW2 and we owe them a great deal.

Item written by David Fell - Career details sourced from the Air of Authority website.

 

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