W/C Alan J L Craig ~ 1923-71

Wing Commander Alan John Laird Craig 1923~71

Wing Commander Alan John Laird Craig DSO, MBE, DFC, AFC.
7, 35, 156, 161 Squadrons
Born 9th May 1923 – Leighton Buzzard
Alan’s RAF Record of Service states his date of birth  8th May 1922 but his family claim he was born in the year 1923.  Alan had misstated his real age to the RAF in order to Enlist early.


Craig was confirmed in his Appointment as a Pilot Officer in 1941 and promoted to Flying Officer (War Substantive) wef 30th July 1642 and to Flight Lieutenant (War Substantive) wef 30th July 1943.

He was promoted Squadron Leader (War Substantive) wef 10th July 1945.  His appointment as a Flight Lieutenant (permanent), but retaining existing Wartime Rank, was wef 1st September 45.  Joined Pathfinder Force on 10th April 1945. PFF personnel received one higher Rank than normal RAF Personnel so he would have been Wing Commander (War Substantive) probably from 10th July 1945.

The ‘highest’ level of Rank is Substantive but in WW2 the RAF introduced Temporary Ranks, these were to fill the numerous Temporary Establishment Posts created by the swift expansion and heavy Personnel Losses of the RAF.  So a Substantive Flying Officer could be promoted to Temporary Flight Lieutenant.  Personnel can also be given Acting Ranks so a Temporary Flight Lieutenant could be promoted to Acting Squadron Leader, but at the end of the War, he could revert to Flying Officer because that is his Substantive Rank.  Acting Ranks can be paid or unpaid, so an Acting (Paid) Squadron Leader gets Paid the rate of a Squadron Leader but an Acting (unpaid) Squadron Leader receives the pay of his Temporary or Substantive Rank (Flying Officer or Flt Lieutenant).


Squadron Leader Alan John Laird Craig DSO DFC AFC Royal Air Force was awarded the MBE as a Squadron Leader on 1st June 1953 aged 30 on the occasion of the Queen’s Coronation Honours List.

Course                      Category      Date Gained
Central Flying School
  B.1              1941-50
JASS                                                      1949-50
DATS                               Above Ave. 1949-55


Practical Spoken Spanish

In his own Estimation – 73 Operations with 41 as Master Bomber

Keen sportsman – joined the Rugby Team at most RAF Stations

19 Types of Aircraft flown during his RAF Career


Squadron Leader A J L CRAIG DSO, MBE, DFC, AFC (103561) (at own request), Retaining the Rank of Wing Commander, 11th April 1956 aged 33.

Alan died aged 48 in Leicester Clinic 9th June 1971 from a Heart Attack following a bout of Double Pneumonia (affecting both Lungs) which may have been due to his RAF Service induced Smoking Habit.
General RAF Duties – Pilot, Pathfinder, Master Bomber, Flying Instructor, Assistant Air Attache (Buenos Aries), Bomber Command HQ

“It is one of life’s unfairness’s that the Public to this day, cherishes the RAF’s Wartime Fighter Pilots with an uncomplicated enthusiasm that does not extend to the Bomber Crews who showed equal courage and suffered far heavier losses.” – Sir Max Hastings 


One response to “W/C Alan J L Craig ~ 1923-71

  1. I have just (22 Nov 2017) interviewed Alan’s Widow Mary for the International Bomber Command Centre Digital Archive. The anomaly of his age/date of birth is explained by the fact that, at over 6ft tall, he joined at the age of 16 years having lied about his age to appear 17 years old. The suggestion is that his family connections helped to cover this up until after he was already well into Training. Sadly Mary, Alan’s Widow passed on aged 95 years shortly after this timely Interview.


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