MCCLOUGHRY, Wilfred Ashton

Service Numbers: Commissioned Officer, Officer
Enlisted: 10 February 1915, Keswick, South Australia
Last Rank: Air Commodore
Last Unit: Unspecified British Units
Born: Knightsbridge, South Australia, 26 November 1894
Home Town: Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia
Schooling: Queen's School and Pulteney Grammar
Occupation: Clerk (Civil servant)
Died: Accidental (air crash), Heliopolis, Egypt, 4 January 1943, aged 48 years
Cemetery: Heliopolis War Cemetery
Memorials: North Adelaide War Memorial WW1
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World War 1 Service

10 Feb 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, SN Commissioned Officer, 9th Light Horse Regiment, Keswick, South Australia
12 Feb 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN Commissioned Officer, 9th Light Horse Regiment, HMAT Armadale, Melbourne
12 Feb 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN Commissioned Officer, 9th Light Horse Regiment, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
16 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN Officer, 9th Light Horse Regiment, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
1 Mar 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Lieutenant, Royal Flying Corps, Seconded to RFC for flying training
1 Mar 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain, SN Commissioned Officer, No. 100 Squadron (RAF), AFC / RFC operations Western Front / Middle East
26 Aug 1917: Promoted Australian Flying Corps, Major, No. 2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
1 Oct 1917: Involvement Australian Flying Corps, SN Commissioned Officer, No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, AFC / RFC operations Western Front / Middle East
1 Aug 1919: Discharged Australian Flying Corps, Major, No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps

World War 2 Service

31 Jul 1936: Involvement Royal Air Force, Air Commodore, Unspecified British Units

Awarded the Distinguished Service Order

Distinguished Service Order
'The record of this officer's squadron, when equipped with Sopwith camels, was unique, not only in the number of aircraft destroyed with almost insignificant loss to overseas, but also in the persistence with which they carried out innumerable raids at the lowest altitude. The high morale and individual enterprise of the members of this squadron must be largely attributed to the personality and influence of their leader, Major McCloughry. When the squadron was re-armed with Sopwith snipes the change in type necessitated a complete reversal of their aerial experience. By his careful and untiring leadership he succeeded in so training his squadron that in a series of raids on three successive days they accounted for upwards of thirty hostile aeroplanes.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 61
Date: 23 May 1919


Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross

Distinguished Flying Cross
'The squadron commanded by this Officer has been remarkably active and successful in attacks at low altitudes on trains, transports, billets, and low flying machines, this success is largely due to his inspiring personality, fine leadership, and the boldness in attack he invariably displays. One evening he bombed a train, which was compelled to stop; he then attacked it with machine gun fire at 200 feet altitude. Afterwards he engaged a two seater machine, which unfortunately escaped owing to failures in both his machine guns. Having remedied these, he attacked a party of infantry which he dispersed, several casualties being noted.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 31
Date: 4 March 1919


Awarded the Military Cross

Military Cross
'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion. On many occasions he has displayed the highest courage and skill in successfully bombing stations and trains, often at very low altitudes, and has always given a fine example of energy and determination.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 189
Date: 8 November 1917

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McCloughry, Wilfred Ashton (1894–1943)

by Alan Fraser (adb.anu.edu.au)

Alan Fraser, 'McCloughry, Wilfred Ashton (1894–1943)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mccloughry-wilfred-ashton-7788/text12691, published in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 25 September 2014.This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography (adb.anu.edu.au), Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

See the entry for his brother Edgar James McCloughry

Wilfred Ashton McCloughry (1894-1943) and Edgar James McCloughry (1896-1972), airmen, were the first and second sons of James Kingston McCloughry, draper, from Larne, Northern Ireland, and his Australian-born wife Charlotte Rebecca, née Ashton. Wilfred was born on 26 November 1894 at Knightsbridge, Adelaide, and Edgar on 10 September 1896 at Hindmarsh. Wilfred later changed his surname to McClaughry and Edgar became Kingston-McCloughry.

Wilfred was educated at Queen's School, North Adelaide, University of Adelaide and the Adelaide School of Mines. Commissioned into the Australian Military Forces in 1913, he transferred to the Australian Imperial Force in 1914 and went overseas with the 9th Light Horse Regiment. On Gallipoli from May to August 1915 he was wounded twice. Seconded to the Royal Flying Corps in March 1916, after flying training he served in a home defence squadron operating against German airships. He joined No.100 Squadron, the R.F.C.'s first night bomber unit, on its formation and in March 1917 accompanied it to France as a flight commander. He was awarded the Military Cross in July.

One of the experienced Australians in the R.F.C. selected to strengthen the expanding Australian Flying Corps, Wilfred joined the Second Squadron and accompanied it to France as a flight commander in September 1917. In October he was recalled to England to command the Fourth Squadron and took that overseas in December. Quiet but firm, he led one of the most efficient Sopwith Camel squadrons on the Western Front in 1918. He flew frequent daylight missions and undertook several risky night sorties against enemy heavy bombers in Camels not equipped for night flying. Credited with three victories, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Distinguished Service Order and was mentioned in dispatches three times.

On General Birdwood (adb.anu.edu.au)'s recommendation Wilfred obtained a permanent commission in the Royal Air Force in August 1919 as squadron leader. In 1922 he attended the first R.A.F. Staff College course and graduated from the Imperial Defence College in 1931. Promoted group captain in July 1934, he was posted to Egypt and in July 1936, as acting air commodore, he was appointed air officer commanding Aden Command. On 27 April 1940 he married Angela Grace Maria Segalir; this was his second marriage, the first having been dissolved.

During the battle of Britain Wilfred commanded No.9 Fighter Group and in 1942, appointed C.B. and air vice marshal, became Air Officer Commanding, Egypt. On 4 January 1943 he died in an aircraft crash near Heliopolis and was buried in Cairo war cemetery. Electric chimes in the Congregational Church, Brougham Place, Adelaide, were later dedicated to his memory and his portrait by Cuthbert Orde is in his widow's possession.



Distinguished Service Order

Military Cross

Distinguished Flying Cross

1914/15 Star

British War Medal

Victory Medal

The sources cited in the ADB article include the following:

  • E. J. Richards, Australian Airmen. History of the 4th Squadron, A.F.C. (Melb, nd)
  • F. M. Cutlack, The Australian Flying Corps: In the Western and Eastern Theatres of War, 1914-1918 (Syd, 1923)
  • I. Jones, Tiger Squadron (Lond, 1954)
  • A. Morris, Bloody April (Lond, 1967)
  • K. Isaacs, Military Aircraft of Australia 1909-1918 (Canb, 1971)
  • S. Zuckerman, From Apes to Warlords (Lond, 1978)
  • A. H. Cobby, High Adventure (Melb, 1981)
  • written records section 1914-18 (Australian War Memorial)
  • Air History Branch papers (National Archives of the United Kingdom)
  • Kingston-McCloughry papers (Imperial War Museum, London)
  • family papers (privately held).