Captain Arthur Henry 'Harry' Cobby

Birth Date 26 August 1894
Birth Place Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, Prahran
Death Date 11 November 1955
Final Rank Captain
Units
Commonwealth of Australia Gazette 12 February 1919 on page 262 at position 16
London Gazette 21 September 1918 on page 11248 at position 2

Harry Cobby was born in Prahran, Melbourne, on 26 August 1894. At the age of 18 Cobby received a commission in the 48th Infantry (Brighton Rifles) and when the First World War began he was quick to offer himself to the AIF. However, his employer, the Commonwealth Bank, refused to release him. Cobby finally enlisted in the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) in 1916 despite a self-confessed lack of interest in flying.

In October 1916 Cobby was sent to Point Cook for flying instruction. There he became an original member of No. 4 Squadron, AFC. With no more than 30 minutes of flying instruction behind him, Cobby arrived in England with the squadron in March 1917. By December, having now learnt to fly Sopwith Camels, the squadron was in France. Although their training had ended, Cobby - who had only flown solo for 12 hours - noted the squadron was made up of novices.

In February 1918 he made the first of his 29 kills, the highest score by a member of the AFC. By May, Cobby was an experienced combat airman, having flown against enemy aircraft and participated in low-level attacks against German troops during their March offensive. The latter, which subjected an aircraft to sustained ground fire, was a particularly dangerous undertaking. On 21 May Cobby shot down the first of 13 German observation balloons; like ground strafing, this brought a pilot dangerously close to ground fire. On 25 May 1918 Cobby was promoted to captain, having by now regularly led his flight on operations.

In June 1918 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross; less than a month later he received a bar to that decoration. On 16 August he led an attack on a German airfield at Harboudin, the largest bombing raid carried out by the Allies in France to that date. He led a similar raid the next day and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. In September Cobby returned to England as an instructor; he was still trying to rejoin a combat unit when the war ended.

Cobby led the AFC fly-past over London on ANZAC Day 1919. In 1921 he became a foundation member of the newly formed RAAF, resigning in 1936 with the rank of wing commander. When the Second World War began, Cobby returned to the RAAF. He served in a number of capacities and, as an air commodore, won the George Medal in 1943 for rescuing survivors of an air crash in which he had been involved as a passenger.

In April 1945 as Air Officer Commanding, 1st Tactical Air Force on Morotai, Cobby was presented with the resignations of several high ranking personal who were annoyed at flying dangerous operations against what they considered "senseless unimportant ground targets". Known as the "Morotai Mutiny", the episode resulted in Cobby's sacking. He left the RAAF in 1946 and joined the Department of Civil Aviation, where he held senior appointments until his death on 11 November 1955.

Rolls

  • First World War Embarkation Roll

    Rank
    Second Lieutenant
    Place of Embarkation
    Melbourne
    Embarkation Ship
    RMS Omrah
    Date of Embarkation
    17 January 1917
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
  • First World War Embarkation Roll

    Rank
    Second Lieutenant
    Place of Embarkation
    Melbourne
    Embarkation Ship
    RMS Omrah
    Date of Embarkation
    17 January 1917
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918

Honours & Awards

  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Distinguished Service Order
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Temporary Captain
    London Gazette
    2 November 1918 on page 12959 at position 1
    Commonwealth Gazette
    4 March 1919 on page 371 at position 1
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Distinguished Flying Cross
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Temporary Captain
    London Gazette
    2 July 1918 on page 7746 at position 1
    Commonwealth Gazette
    27 November 1918 on page 2260 at position 30
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Mention in despatches
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Temporary Captain
    London Gazette
    31 December 1918 on page 15224 at position 2
    Commonwealth Gazette
    23 May 1919 on page 880 at position 48
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    George Medal
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    Royal Australian Air Force
    Conflict
    Second World War, 1939-1945
    Rank
    Air-Commodore
    London Gazette
    10 March 1944 on page 1165 at position 6
    Commonwealth Gazette
    16 March 1944 on page 650 at position 10
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Commander of the Order of the British Empire
    Classification
    Order of the British Empire
    Unit
    NE Area HQ
    Conflict
    Second World War, 1939-1945
    Rank
    Air-Commodore
    London Gazette
    16 June 1944 on page 2873 at position 1
    Commonwealth Gazette
    22 June 1944 on page 1251 at position 1
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    United States Medal of Freedom
    Classification
    United Nations awards and medals
    Unit
    Royal Australian Air Force
    Conflict
    Second World War, 1939-1945
    Rank
    Air-Commodore
    Commonwealth Gazette
    15 April 1948 on page 1899 at position 19
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    2nd Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross
    Classification
    Distinguished Flying Cross
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Temporary Captain
    London Gazette
    21 September 1918 on page 11248 at position 1
    Commonwealth Gazette
    12 February 1919 on page 262 at position 15
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross
    Classification
    Distinguished Flying Cross
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Temporary Captain
    London Gazette
    21 September 1918 on page 11248 at position 2
    Commonwealth Gazette
    12 February 1919 on page 262 at position 16
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Distinguished Service Order
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Date of Recommendation
    20 August 1918
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Lieutenant
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Distinguished Service Order
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Date of Recommendation
    24 May 2017
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Lieutenant
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Distinguished Service Order
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Date of Recommendation
    20 August 1918
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Lieutenant
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Military Cross
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Date of Recommendation
    24 May 2017
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Lieutenant
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Commander of the Order of the British Empire
    Classification
    Order of the British Empire
    Conflict
    Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    George Medal
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Conflict
    Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Military Cross
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Date of Recommendation
    24 May 2017
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Lieutenant
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross
    Classification
    Distinguished Flying Cross
    Date of Recommendation
    16 July 1918
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Captain
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross
    Classification
    Distinguished Flying Cross
    Date of Recommendation
    16 July 1918
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Captain
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross
    Classification
    Distinguished Flying Cross
    Date of Recommendation
    24 May 2017
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Temporary Captain
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross
    Classification
    Distinguished Flying Cross
    Date of Recommendation
    24 May 2017
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Temporary Captain
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Distinguished Service Order
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Date of Recommendation
    24 May 2017
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Lieutenant
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Captain
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Captain
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Captain
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Captain
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Distinguished Flying Cross
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Date of Recommendation
    24 May 2017
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Captain
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross
    Classification
    Distinguished Flying Cross
    Date of Recommendation
    24 May 2017
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Captain
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross
    Classification
    Distinguished Flying Cross
    Date of Recommendation
    24 May 2017
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Captain
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross
    Classification
    Distinguished Flying Cross
    Date of Recommendation
    24 May 2017
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Captain
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross
    Classification
    Distinguished Flying Cross
    Date of Recommendation
    24 May 2017
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Captain
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Distinguished Service Order
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Date of Recommendation
    03 September 1918
    Unit
    No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Captain

Timeline

Date of birth 1894-08-26 Prahran, VIC.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1916 Australian Flying Corps.
Other 1916-10 Sent to Point Cook for flying instruction and to join the No 4 Squadron, AFC.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917
Date of embarkation 1917-01-17
Other 1917-03 Arrived in England with the No 4 Sqaudron.
Other 1917-12 No 4 Squadron was posted to France.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918
Date promoted 1918-05-25 Promoted to captain.
Date of honour or award 1918-07-02 Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-07-16
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-07-16
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-08-20
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-08-20
Other 1918-09 Returned to England as an instructor.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-09-03
Date of honour or award 1918-09-21 Awarded 2 bars to the Dintinguished Service Cross on the same day.
Date of honour or award 1918-11-02 Distinguished Service Order (DSO).
Other 1919-04-25 Cobby led the Australian Flying Corps fly past over London on Anzac Day.
Date returned to Australia 1919-05-06
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1921-03-31 Enlisted in the RAAF.
Date of discharge 1936 Resigned from the RAAF with the Rank of Wing Commander.
Date and unit at appointment (Officers) 1939 Returned to RAAF.
Date of honour or award 1943 Recieved George Medal (GM) for rescuing the his fellow survivors of an air crash.
Date of honour or award 1944-06-16 Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
Date of discharge 1946-08-19 Left the RAAF.
Date of death 1955-11-11

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