British Military Aviation in 1920

Royal Air Force Headquarters at Halton is granted command status.

21 January

The Royal Air Force’s first ‘Little War’ commences when ‘Z’ Squadron begins
operations against the tribal leader Mohammed bin Abdulla Hassan, the
‘Mad Mullah’, in British Somaliland in co-operation with the Camel Corps.

Bombing from a disguised base in Berbera, ‘Z’ Squadron destroys three
Dervish forts in 5 days and subsequently provides air support and communications
for the ground forces. The Royal Air Force contingent, under the command
of Group Captain R. Gordon were “the main instrument and decisive
factor” in the overthrow of the ‘Mad Mullah’, who had defied British
military power since 1900.

1 February
The Government of the Union of South Africa appoint Colonel H.A. (Pierre)
van Ryneveld as Director of Air Services with instructions to establish
an air force for South Africa. This date is acknowledged as marking the
official birth of the South African Air Force.

2 February
British forces are withdrawn from Southern Russia and Persia.

5 February
The Royal Air Force College at Cranwell opens, with Air Commodore C.A.H.
Longcroft as the first commandant. Royal Air Force Headquarters Cranwell
is granted command status with the opening of the College.

18 February
The Canadian Air Force is formed as a separate service.

8 March
The total uniformed personnel strength of the Royal Air Force as at this
date is 29,730.

1 April
The Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF) is disbanded, after no fewer than 32,000
women have served in its ranks since 1 April 1918.

1 April
The organisation of the Royal Air Force is revised, combining the Southern
and Northern Areas to form Inland Area.

No.11 (Irish) Group becomes No.11 (Irish) Wing and later, in early 1922,
returns to the mainland and drops the word ‘Irish’ from its title.

3 July
The first Royal Air Force Tournament, later known as the Royal Air Force
Pageant and finally as the Royal Air Force Display, takes place at Hendon
and is attended by 60,000 spectators.