Air Vice-Mashal Geoffrey Ambler CB CBE AFC: 609 (West Riding) Squadron

Air Vice-Marshal Geoffrey H Ambler CB CBE AFC

Geoffrey Ambler was born in 1904 and educated at Shrewsbury and Clare College, Cambridge.  He was a keen sportsman and rowed for Cambridge in the Boat Race in 1924, 1925 and 1926. Following his studies he joined the family textile firm, F Ambler Ltd, in Bradford.

In 1931 he joined the Auxiliary Air Force and served as a pilot with No 608 (North Riding) Squadron, rising to the rank of Flight Lieutenant by November 1933. A year later he was promoted to Squadron Leader as Officer Commanding.

In 1938, he was appointed to command No 609 (West Riding) Squadron at RAF Yeadon, north of Leeds. He took delivery of the first Spitfire to be issued to the Sqn in August 1939 and led the unit from peace-time to war, commanding the Sqn during the first wartime deployments to Catterick, Acklington and Drem.

In December 1939, he was promoted to Wing Commander and posted to RAF Drem as Operations Controller, gaining further promotion to Group Captain two years later. In June 1942, he became an acting Air Commodore and took command of the Royal Observer Corps, the first serving RAF Officer to do so. During his time as Commandant he reorganised the Corps and Sector HQs and realigned each area to that of its associated Fighter Command Group, thus ensuring more cohesive interception of enemy aircraft.

Now confirmed in the rank of Air Cdre, he was appointed as Deputy Senior Air Staff Officer (DSASO) in June 1943 at RAF Fighter Command HQ, Bentley Priory. In February 1945 he became the Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO) in the rank of Acting Air Vice-Marshal. He was also Aide de Camp to King George VI between August 1943 and October 1944.

Post war, he retired from the RAF and returned to the family firm in Bradford, eventually rising to be Chairman of the company. He was made a Deputy Lord-Lieutenant for West Yorkshire in July 1949 and became the Honorary Air Commodore to all three West Riding Auxiliary Squadrons – 609, 2609 and 3609 – until their disbandment in 1957.

He died in August 1978, aged 74 and remains one of the few pre-war Auxiliaries to rise to 2* rank during their career.

Posted in Memorial Stones.