Air Cdre. John Adrian Chamier




A controversial figure to those who know him, a dedicated soldier and a man who helped pioneer air travel for the world. Chamier is someone I did not know until I by luck acquired his sword and started delving into his past.


Chamiers sword is an ERI 1897 pattern sabre that to all intents and purposes symbolized his career. He joined the British Indian Army as an officer with no assigned regiment and therefore took the sword he would most likely need when assigned, it is a quality Wilkinson blade in near perfect condition that as far as I know was only carried once on campaign when he was attached to the 33rd Punjabi Regiment to fight in Somaliland, a conflict that effected how he felt about the development of war and transport.


Joining in 1902 and ending his career after World War Two he was an infantry officer in Somaliland, a Flying Officer in WW1 and as Air Officer Administration for HQ Balloon Command in WW2. Most famously he was the founder of the Air Training Corps, as a former cadet it was an organisation that brought me many skills and a lot of joy.



Post War he was a great promoter of Aeronautics both for military and civilian purposes being a member of many Aircraft and Flight clubs and associations. This seems to be partly due to his time in the Guban Desert in Somaliland, the experience seemed to strike a fear into him that war couldn't, he wrote vivid accounts about how the desert roadsides were surrounded by endless bleached bones and that it was a miracle that a 300 mile journey could later be undertaken in a day.


As an airman and commander of Flying Officers he was a staunch supporter of Churchill's ideas on air suppression but did not subscribe to Churchills views on chemical or biological weapons but believed that if air suppression or punitive air raids needed to be undertaken they should be done with conventional arms. He once wrote that to demoralize and defeat a tribal enemy one must: "choose the most inaccessible village of the most prominent tribe which it is desired to punish. All available aircraft must be collected the attack with bombs and machine guns must be relentless and unremitting and carried on continuously by day and night, on houses, inhabitants, crops and cattle". A concept abhorrent by the modern standards of conflict but understandable as a man who was greatly changed by his experience fighting in Somaliland and on the Western front between 1904 and 1918.


He came to controversy for some of his possible beliefs during the Inter War period as a member of the January Club, a discussion and recruiting group for the British Union Of Fascists, he allowed his name to be used in relation to the club but it is unclear whether he was a Fascist or whether he was a Conservative member of the upper classes who was introduced into the ranks of the BUF through friends, associations or disenfranchisement from the establishment.



For some reason he escaped the 18B roundups that imprisoned Fascists, Irish Nationalists and other people considered enemies of the state in a time of war. Some people escaped because they were loyal and had renounced their former associations and some people were simply too useful to not use when at war, a phrase I read that summed it up well was that some of the people who were not imprissoned were made to work for King and Country with a knife at their back.


An incredibly interesting man with a and pioneering past and a career that covered three continents and three wars.



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