Graham Reese MAGILL
CBE, DFC and Bar, M.I.D.
RAF Service Number: 39236
RAF Trade: Pilot
Date of Enlistment: 31st of August 1936 ( RAF)
Date of Retirement: 29th of January 1970 (from RAF)
Rank Achieved: Air Vice Marshall
Date of Birth: 23rd of January 1915, at Cambridge
Graham was the son of Mr and Mrs R.W. Magill who owned a drapery business in Cambridge before the war, before shifting to Ruakaka, Te Aroha. The family sold their business to Messrs Sayers and Ward, who were both also fathers
of Cambridge airmen-to-be.
Graham attended Cambridge Primary School and then Hamilton Technical High School. He became an electrical engineer after leaving school, and he learned to fly at the Waikato Aero Club, Rukuhia, before departing for England in May 1936, where he obtained a short service commission in the Royal Air Force. On the 5th of November 1942 Graham married Miss Blanche Marie Colson of Abbotshom, Devon, at Blackpool.
Service Details: Graham was already trained as a pilot when he got to England, where he applied for and was granted a Short Service Commission with the Royal Air Force. He was accepted for enlistment on the 31st of August 1936, and following a period of basic training he was made an Acting Pilot Officer (Provisional) on the 2nd of November 1936.
Following training Graham's first squadron posting was to the newly reformed No. 211 Squadron at RAF Mildenhall on the 30th of June 1937. The squadron had only reformed on the 24th of June, having disbanded in 1919, so he was one of the original pilots of the new era. They were initially flying Hawker Audax light bombers but these began to be replaced by Hawker Hinds in August 1937, and the squadron was flying only the Hind by October. In the meantime Graham had received his commission as a fully fledged Pilot Officer on the 31st of August 1937, a year after he'd joined the RAF.
On the 30th of April 1938 Graham was posted to No. 47 Squadron at Khartoum in Sudan. At this time the squadron was flying Vickers Vincents - and he possibly flew Vincents there that later came to New Zealand for the RNZAF.
In 1939 the squadron began to replace its Vincents with the long range Vickers Wellesley bombers, a geodetic design by Barnes Wallis. Graham was promoted to Flying Officer on the 28th of February 1939, and less than two months later, on the 19th of April 1939 he was appointed as the Flight Commander of No. 47 Squadron, with the new rank of Acting Flight Lieutenant.
The war began on the 3rd of September 1939. Not a great deal happened in the Sudan till June 1940 when Italy entered the war, and Graham was to fly many missions against enemy targets in Eritrea and Abyssinia. On the 26th of June 1940 Graham was the pilot of Vickers Wellesley K7785 on a raid to Gura. Upon his return to base at Khartoum the undercarriage collapsed on landing, resulting in severe enough damage to the aircrfat that it was struck off charge. On the 3rd of September 1940 Graham was confirmed in the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his service in Africa on the 11th of February 1941. On the 24th of September 1941 he was also Mentioned in Despatches.
Eventually it was time for Graham to move on from No. 47 Squadron, and his next role was as a staff officer and working in army liaison between the RAF and the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force in Egypt and Libya, during which time Graham was liaising directly with General Bernard Freyberg, Commander of the 2nd NZEF.
Graham was then posted to No. 226 Squadron, as a Flight Commander, flying Douglas Bostons from RAF Wattisham in England.
In 1943 he took command of No. 180 Squadron, flying North American B-25 Mitchells.He was apparently given a promotion to (Temporary) Wing Commander in order to lead this squadron. On the 16th of November 1943 Graham was awarded a bar to his DFC for his service in these two day-bomber squadrons. Graham was also Mentioned in Despatches, and at the time he received his bar to the DFC, he had been given command of a new RAF station in England .
He was then moved onto Operations Staff, No 2 Group from 1943-45, and reduced back down to Squadron Leader rank. On the 1st of July 1945 he was again given (T) Wing Commander rank due to added responsibility in the job.
Immediately after the end of the war, Graham commanded No. 14 Squadron, who were flying Mosquito B.16'sfrom RAF Wahn in Germany. Graham had decided to stay on in the RAF postwar, and so he was given permanent commission as Squadron Leader on the 4th of June 1946.
Promoted to Wing Commander on the 1st of July 1947. From 1949-52 he was on the staff of the RAF Headquarters, Middle East in Egypt.
He spent 1953-1955 as Commanding Officer of the Ferry Control Wing at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire. This was followed by an appointment to HQ Allied Air Forces Europe, Fountainbleau, now as a Group Captain (promotion dated 1st of January 1955).
He then commanded RAF Upwood in Huntingdonshire, before becoming Director of Operations (Bomber and Reconnaissance) at the Air Ministry in 1959, ranked as Acting Air Commodore.
Next he was Commandant of the Royal Air Force College of Air Warfare ay manby in Lincolnshire. He was confirmed as an Air Commodore on the 1st of January 1960 and was promoted again to Air Vice Marshall on the 1st of January 1954.
Graham took up a new appointment to the position of Director-General of Organisation (RAF) at the Ministry of Defence on the 20th of July 1964.
On the 22nd of May 1967 he became Air Officer Commanding, No 25 (Training) Group.
14 months later on the 1st of July 1968, he was appointed Air Officer Commanding, No 22 (Training) Group He retired from the RAF on the 29th of January 1970.
Died: 1st of December 1998, aged 83
Connection with Cambridge: Graham Magill was born and brought up in Cambridge.
Waikato Independent newspaper reports mentioning Graham Magill:
”Great Coolness and Courage” awarded DFC 12 Feb 1941
Sqn Ldr mentioned in despatches 8 Oct 1941
Promoted to rank of Wing Commander 3 May 1943
Bar to DFC 25 Nov 1943
OBE 2 Nov 1945
Granted permanent commission 23 Nov 1945