Matthew Frew

Matthew Frew
Matthew Brown Frew
Nickname "Bunty"
Born 7 April 1895
Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
Died 28 May 1974 (aged 79)
Pretoria, South Africa
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Air Force
Years of service 1914 – 1948
Rank Air Vice Marshal
Unit No. 45 Squadron RFC
Commands held RAF Hornchurch
No. 10 Squadron RAF
No. 111 Squadron RAF
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order & Bar
Military Cross & Bar
Air Force Cross
Mentioned in Despatches (2)
Other work Trained South African Air Force during World War II

Air Vice Marshal Sir Matthew Brown Frew KBE, CB, DSO & Bar, MC & Bar, AFC (7 April 1895 –28 May 1974) was a senior officer in the Royal Air Force and a First World War flying ace, credited with 23 aerial victories.


World War I service

Frew joined the Highland Light Infantry in 1914, serving in France from early 1915 until March 1916, before he transferred to the RFC. After training he flew Sopwith Strutters and Camels with No. 45 Squadron from April 1917 until February 1918.[citation needed] He was wounded in action by anti-aircraft fire on 15 January 1918, and medically evacuated the following month.[1]

He scored his first aerial victory on 5 June 1917. By 4 February 1918, his tally had reached 23. He had destroyed 14 German airplanes, 12 of them solo, and the other two shared with fellow aces Kenneth Barbour Montgomery and Raymond Brownell. Frew also drove down nine enemy planes out of control.[2]

Post World War I

Serving with the RAF post-war, he served in North Kurdistan in 1931-2, receiving a bar to his DSO. He later commanded 111 and 10 Squadrons. He retired in 1948 with the rank of Air Vice-Marshal and had been knighted.

Record of promotions

  • 1914: Enlisted as a private in the Highland Light Infantry
  • 26 September 1916: Commissioned temporary second lieutenant on probation
  • 24 October 1917: Appointed temporary captain
  • 26 March 1918: Appointed temporary lieutenant
  • 1 April 1918: Appointed temporary captain
  • 24 October 1919: Promoted to Flight Lieutenant (seniority from 1 April 1918)
  • 1 July 1927: Promoted to Squadron Leader
  • 1 July 1934: Promoted to Wing Commander
  • 1 July 1938: Promoted to Group Captain
  • 1 December 1940: Appointed temporary Air Commodore
  • 16 September 1942: Appointed acting Air Vice Marshal
  • 1 June 1943: Appointed temporary Air Vice Marshal
  • 16 September 1943: Appointed Air Commodore for wartime service
  • 1 December 1943: Promoted to Air Commodore
  • 1 January 1946: Promoted to Air Vice Marshal
  • 19 December 1948: Retired as Air Vice Marshal[3]

Duty assignments

  • 26 September 1916: Pilot's training in the Royal Flying Corps
  • 6 April 1917: Assigned as Flying Officer in the RFC
  • 28 April 1917: Assigned to 45 Squadron
  • 24 October 1917: Assigned as Flight Commander
  • 1918: Instructor at the Central Flying School
  • 5 May 1919: Transferred to Royal Air Force unemployed list—Not on active duty--
  • 24 October 1919: Reappointed to RAF with short service commission as Flight Lieutenant
  • 19 February 1920: Assigned to HQ Staff, No. 7 Group RAF
  • 8 June 1920: Assigned to RAF Cadet College
  • 8 December 1921: Assigned as Flight Commander, 6 Squadron
  • 14 October 1923: Assigned to No. 4 Flying Training School
  • 16 December 1925: Assigned to the staff of Armament and Giunnery School
  • 24 July 1927: Assigned to No. 1 Flying Training School
  • 10 March 1931: Assigned to Air Operations Staff, HQ Iraq Command
  • 11 May 1933: Officer Commanding, 111 Squadron
  • 1 August 1934: Officer Commanding, 10 Squadron
  • 22 March 1937: Officer Commanding, RAF Hornchurch
  • 25 July 1938: SASO, HQ No. 23 Group RAF
  • 1 September 1940: Air Officer Commanding, Training HQs, South African Air Force
  • 16 September 1942: AOC, Directorate of Air Training, SAAF[4]

Citations for military decorations

Military Cross (MC)

T./2nd Lt. Matthew Brown Frew, Gen. List and R.F.C.

For conspicuous gallantly and devotion to duty on patrol, showing a fine offensive spirit in many combats. He has shot down five enemy aeroplanes, on one occasion leading his formation to attack twenty-two Albatross Scouts, and himself shooting one down.

Supplement to the London Gazette, 7 March 1918 (30561/2915)

Military Cross (MC) Bar

T./2nd Lt. Matthew Brown Frew, M.C., Gen. List and R.F.C.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in shooting down three enemy machines in two days. He has destroyed eight enemy machines and driven down many others out of control.

Supplement to the London Gazette, 23 April 1918 (30645/4857)

Distinguished Service Order (DSO)

T./Capt. Matthew Brown Frew, M.C., Gen.. List and R.F.C.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. On one occasion when leader of a patrol he shot down an enemy aeroplane, two others being also accounted for in the same fight. On a later occasion he destroyed three enemy machines in one combat, all of which were seen to crash to the ground. Immediately after this combat he had to switch off his engine and make an attempt to glide towards our lines five miles away on account of his machine having received a direct hit. Owing to the great skill and courage he displayed in the handling of his damaged machine, he succeeded in bringing it safely to our lines. He has destroyed twenty-two enemy machines up to date.

Supplement to the London Gazette, 16 August 1918 (30845/9560)


  1. ^ Retrieved 10 February 2011.
  2. ^ Retrieved 10 February 2011.
  3. ^ Retrieved 10 February 2011.
  4. ^ Retrieved 10 February 2011.

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