King became first Marshal of the RAAF

On this day, a proclamation issued from Canberra by Lord Huntingfield, the Queensland-born Governor of Victoria who was Acting Governor-General during the absence overseas of Lord Gowrie, announced that ‘His Majesty the King [George VI] has assumed the ranks of Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Australian Navy, Field Marshal in the Australian Military Forces, and Marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force’. While a Field Marshal had been appointed in the Australian Army before (Baron Birdwood in 1925), this was the first time that a five-star appointment had been made in the RAAF, which in 1938 was commanded by a two-star officer (Air Vice-Marshal Williams) and had a total full-time strength of only 2500 officers, Air Cadets and airmen. Following the death of George VI in February 1952, the new Queen Elizabeth appointed the Duke of Edinburgh to again head all three Australian services from 1 April 1954.


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