Arthur Henry Cobby

Arthur Henry Cobby

Infobox Military Person
name= Arthur Henry Cobby
lived= 26 August 1894 – death date and age|1955|11|11|1894|8|26|df=yes
placeofbirth= Prahran, Melbourne
placeofdeath=Heidelberg Repatriation General Hospital, New South Wales

caption= Captain Harry Cobby in 1919
allegiance= flagicon|Australia Commonwealth of Australia
serviceyears= c. 1912–1946
rank= Air Commodore
commands= Australian First Tactical Air Force
battles= World War I
* Western Front
* Battle of Amiens
World War II
* Philippines Campaign
* Borneo Campaign
awards= Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Flying Cross & Two Bars
George Medal
Mentioned in Despatches
US Medal of Freedom with palm
laterwork=Department of Civil Aviation
* Regional Director NSW
* Director of Flying Operations

Air Commodore Arthur Henry "Harry" Cobby CBE, DSO, DFC & Two Bars, GM (26 August 1894 – 11 November 1955) was an Australian military aviator. He was the leading air ace in the Australian Flying Corps during World War I, with 29 kills, even though he saw active service for only about nine months. (Roderic Dallas, who served with British units in World War I, is now believed to be the highest-scoring Australian ace.)

Early career

Cobby was born in the Melbourne suburb of Prahran and enlisted in an Militia infantry unit at the age of 18. When World War I broke out, he attempted to join the First Australian Imperial Force, but his employer, the Commonwealth Bank, refused to release him. Cobby found a loophole by joining a home-based Australian Flying Corps unit, despite his lack of interest in flying. In 1916, he was sent for flight instruction at Point Cook, Victoria and became a foundation member of No. 4 Squadron, AFC (4 Sqn).

World War I

In March 1917, 4 Sqn deployed to England in preparation for service on the Western Front. Assigned Sopwith Camels, the unit was sent to France in December. When Cobby first saw active service against the German "Luftstreitkräfte", he had only 12 hours solo flying experience. Nevertheless he proved to be a talented and extremely aggressive pilot, and his leadership abilities were recognized in his promotion to Captain, in May 1918.

In June, Cobby was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and a few weeks later received two bars to his DFC. On 16 August, Cobby led an attack on a German airfield at Haubourdin, near Lille. He led a similar raid the following day and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Against his will, Cobby was transferred to a training unit in England. He was still applying to rejoin combat squadrons when the war ended in November.

His official tally was 29 aircraft confirmed destroyed, one aircraft captured and five observation balloons destroyed. Cobby also had two aircraft believed destroyed and shared one destroyed. This is the highest score by a member of the AFC/RAAF.

Later career

Cobby remained with the AFC, which became the Royal Australian Air Force in 1921. He retired in 1936 with the rank of Wing Commander, but returned to serve a senior role in the RAAF during World War II. In 1943, he was involved in an air crash as a passenger and was awarded the George Medal for helping to rescue survivors. In June 1944, Cobby was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

Promoted to Air Commodore, Cobby was appointed commanding officer of No. 10 Operational Group, a formation which would became the Australian First Tactical Air Force (1TAF) in October 1944. Cobby was blamed for the so-called "Morotai Mutiny", among 1TAF officers in 1945, and was dismissed the following year as a result. He then held senior positions with the Department of Civil Aviation until his death in 1955.

External links

* [ Australian War Memorial, 2005: Air Commodore Arthur Henry (Harry) Cobby, CBE, DSO, DFC, GM]
* [ Australian Dictionary of Biography: Cobby, Arthur Henry]
* [ First World War: Who's Who: Arthur Cobby]

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