Bill Wratten

Air Chief Marshal Sir William John Wratten, GBE, CB, AFC (born 15 August 1939) is a retired senior commander in the Royal Air Force who was Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of RAF Strike Command from 1994 to 1997.

Sir William Wratten
Born15 August 1939 (age 79)
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Air Force
Years of service1960–97
RankAir Chief Marshal
Commands heldStrike Command (1994–97)
No. 11 Group (1989–91)
RAF Stanley (1982–83)
RAF Coningsby (1980–82)
No. 23 Squadron (1975–77)
Battles/warsGulf War
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Air Force Cross

Flying career

Educated at Chatham House Grammar School in Ramsgate, Wratten entered RAF Cranwell and was commissioned into the Royal Air Force in 1960.[1] He was appointed Officer Commanding No. 23 Squadron in 1975 and, following his promotion to group captain, he became Station Commander at RAF Coningsby in 1980.[1] In June 1982 he was made the first Station Commander at RAF Stanley in the Falkland Islands after the 1982 war.[1] He went on to serve as Director of Operational Requirements (Air) at Ministry of Defence in 1983, as Senior Air Staff Officer at Headquarters No. 1 Group in 1986 and as Air Officer Commanding No. 11 Group in 1989.[1] As an air vice marshal, he was Air Commander British Forces Middle East from 17 November 1990 until the end of the Gulf War (as such he was the senior air force officer in Operation Granby).[1] His last appointment was as Air Officer Commanding Strike Command in 1994 before he retired in 1997.[2]

Chinook helicopter crash Board of Inquiry

In 1995, following the Chinook Helicopter Crash on the Mull of Kintyre, Wratten was the Senior Reviewing Officer of the Board of Inquiry which had failed to find a cause of the accident. Despite a lack of Accident Data Recorder and cockpit voice recorder, Wratten concluded that because the aircraft hit the ground whilst in cloud/fog, pilot error was the cause of the crash and found the pilots guilty of gross negligence.[3] Following a subsequent Scottish Fatal Accident Inquiry and House of Commons Public Accounts Committee report, a House of Lords Select Committee was appointed to consider all the circumstances surrounding the crash and unanimously concluded "that the reviewing officers were not justified in finding that negligence on the part of the pilots caused the aircraft to crash".[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e Air Marshal Sir William Wratten KBE, CB, AFC, FRAeS Military Art
  2. ^ Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation – RAF Home Commands formed between 1958 – 2002 Archived 5 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Hoon won’t change Chinook decision The Scotsman, 23 July 2002
  4. ^ Report from the Select Committee on Chinook ZD 576 dated 31 Jan 02
Military offices
Preceded by
Michael Stear
Air Officer Commanding No. 11 Group
Succeeded by
John Allison
Preceded by
Andrew Wilson
Air Commander British Forces Middle East
Also Deputy Commander British Forces Middle East

Gulf War ended
Preceded by
Sir Richard Johns
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Strike Command
Succeeded by
Sir John Allison
1939 in the United Kingdom

Events from the year 1939 in the United Kingdom. This year sees the start of the Second World War, ending the Interwar period.

Air engagements of the Gulf War

In the Gulf War of 1990–1991, when the Coalition intervened, they faced the world's fourth largest air force to combat. In the opening days of the war, many air-air engagements occurred, where Iraqi interceptors would engage Coalition aircraft. This is a list of all known air-to-air engagements that occurred during the Gulf War.

Battle of Khafji

The Battle of Khafji was the first major ground engagement of the Persian Gulf War. It took place in and around the Saudi Arabian city of Khafji, from 29 January to 1 February 1991 and marked the culmination of the Coalition's air campaign over Kuwait and Iraq, which had begun on 17 January 1991.

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who had already tried and failed to draw Coalition troops into costly ground engagements by shelling Saudi Arabian positions and oil storage tanks and firing Scud surface-to-surface missiles at Israel, ordered the invasion of Saudi Arabia from southern Kuwait. The 1st and 5th Mechanized Divisions and 3rd Armored Division were ordered to conduct a multi-pronged invasion toward Khafji, engaging Saudi Arabian, Kuwaiti, and U.S. forces along the coastline.

These three divisions, which had been heavily damaged by Coalition aircraft in the preceding days, attacked on 29 January. Most of their attacks were repulsed by U.S. Marines as well as U.S. Army Rangers and Coalition aircraft, but one of the Iraqi columns occupied Khafji on the night of 29–30 January. Between 30 January and 1 February, two Saudi Arabian National Guard battalions and two Kuwaiti tank companies attempted to retake control of the city, aided by Coalition aircraft and U.S. artillery. By 1 February, the city had been recaptured at the cost of 43 Coalition servicemen dead and 52 wounded. Iraqi Army fatalities numbered between 60 and 300, while an estimated 400 were captured as prisoners of war.

Although the invasion of Khafji was initially a propaganda victory for the Ba'athist Iraqi regime, it was swiftly recaptured by Saudi Arabian ground forces. The battle serves as a modern demonstration that air power in a supporting role to ground forces can be of great assistance in halting and defeating a major ground operation.

Chatham House Grammar School

Chatham House Grammar School was an all boys grammar school in Ramsgate, Kent, England, that was merged in September 2011 with its sister school Clarendon House Grammar School to become the Chatham & Clarendon Grammar School.

It had a coeducational sixth form and shared teaching facilities and various A Level courses with Clarendon House Grammar School. The two schools worked together to provide subjects, bands, and outings. Both schools were co-ed from the sixth form (Year 12 and 13).

Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School

Chatham & Clarendon Grammar School is a co-educational grammar school in Ramsgate, Kent, England, formed as a result of the merger of the boys-only Chatham House Grammar School and girls-only Clarendon House Grammar School in September 2011.

Gulf War air campaign

The air campaign of the Gulf War, also known as the 1991 bombing of Iraq, was an extensive aerial bombing campaign from 17 January 1991 to 23 February 1991. The Coalition of the Gulf War flew over 100,000 sorties, dropping 88,500 tons of bombs, widely destroying military and civilian infrastructure. The air campaign was commanded by USAF Lieutenant General Chuck Horner, who briefly served as Commander-in-Chief – Forward of U.S. Central Command while General Schwarzkopf was still in the United States. The British air commanders were Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Wilson (to 17 November 1990) and Air Vice-Marshal Bill Wratten (from 17 November). The air campaign had largely finished by 23 February 1991 when the coalition invasion of Kuwait took place.

The initial strikes were carried out by Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from warships situated in the Persian Gulf, by F-117A Nighthawk stealth bombers with an armament of laser-guided smart bombs, and by F-4G Wild Weasel aircraft armed with HARM anti-radar missiles. These first attacks allowed F-14, F-15, F-16, and F/A-18 fighter bombers to gain air superiority over Iraq and then continue to drop TGM-guided and laser-guided bombs.

Armed with a GAU-8 rotary cannon and heat-seeking or optically guided Maverick missiles, A-10 Thunderbolts bombed and destroyed Iraqi armored forces, supporting the advance of US ground troops. Marine Corps close air support AV-8B Harriers employed their 25mm rotary cannon, Mavericks, Cluster munitions, and Napalm against the Iraqi dug-in forces to pave the way forward for the Marines breaching Saddam's defenses. The AH-64 Apache and AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters fired laser-guided Hellfire missiles and TOW missiles which were guided to tanks by ground observers or by scout helicopters, such as the OH-58D Kiowa. The Coalition air fleet also made use of the E-3A Airborne Warning and Control Systems and of a fleet of B-52 bombers.The Coalition aerial strike-force comprised over 2,250 combat aircraft (including 1,800 US aircraft) and fought against an Iraqi force of 934 combat aircraft of which 550 were operational: Soviet-built MiG-29, MiG-25, MiG-23, MiG-21, Su-22, Su-24, Su-25 and French-made Mirage F1 fighters.

List of Royal Air Force air chief marshals

The following is a list of Royal Air Force air chief marshals. The rank of air chief marshal is a four-star officer rank and currently the highest rank to which RAF officers may be promoted to in a professional capacity. Throughout the history of the RAF there have been 140 RAF officers promoted to air chief marshal and at present two RAF officers hold the rank in an active capacity. These are Sir Stephen Hillier, the Chief of the Air Staff (the only dedicated RAF 4-star post) and Sir Stuart Peach who is the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee.

The rank was first used in 1922 when Sir Hugh Trenchard the then Chief of the Air Staff was promoted. Up until the mid-1930s there was usually only one RAF officer in the rank of air chief marshal. During World War II, with the great expansion of the RAF, the number of air chief marshals active at any one time rose to six by the end of the War. This number of air chief marshals was to remain approximately constant throughout the Cold War but after the British defence cuts of the mid-1990s there were only two dedicated 4-star RAF posts, namely the AOC-in-C, Strike Command and the Chief of the Air Staff. In 2007 with the reduction to a single command (Air Command) the RAF initially retained two air chief marshal posts (the AOC-in-C, Air Command and the Chief of the Air Staff) but in 2012 the post of AOC-in-C, Air Command was subsumed within the responsibilities of the Chief of the Air Staff leaving only a single dedicated RAF air chief marshal post.

Operation Granby

Operation GRANBY, commonly abbreviated Op GRANBY, was the code name given to the British military operations during the 1991 Gulf War. 53,462 members of the British Armed Forces were deployed during the conflict. The total cost of operations was £2.434 billion (1992), of which at least £2.049 billion was paid for by other nations such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia; £200 million of equipment was lost or written off.The Joint Commander Gulf Forces, based in the United Kingdom at RAF High Wycombe, was Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Sir Patrick Hine 1 October 1990 – 31 March 1991, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon from 31 March 1991. His political adviser was Andrew Palmer. The Commander British Forces Middle East, the in-theatre commander, based in Riyadh, was initially Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Andrew Wilson (September–October 1990), then Lieutenant-General Sir Peter de la Billière 6 October 1990 – March 1991, and Air Commodore Ian Macfadyen from March 1991.

The Air Commander British Forces Middle East, initially Arabian Peninsula, was Air Vice Marshal Andrew Wilson from August to 17 November 1990, then Air Vice Marshal William (Bill) Wratten from 17 November 1990.

The Senior British Naval Officer Middle East was Captain Anthony McEwen, Royal Navy until September 1990, on HMS York, then Commodore Paul Haddacks from September to December 1990. Finally, Commodore Christopher Craig, on HMS Brave and HMS London, was in command from 3 December 1990 to March 1991.

Order of the British Empire

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations,

and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

Recommendations for appointments to the Order of the British Empire were originally made on the nomination of the United Kingdom, the self-governing Dominions of the Empire (later Commonwealth) and the Viceroy of India. Nominations continue today from Commonwealth countries that participate in recommending British (Imperial) honours. Most Commonwealth countries ceased recommendations for appointments to the Order of the British Empire when they created their own honours.

Sandy Wilson (RAF officer)

Air Chief Marshal Sir Ronald Andrew Fellowes Wilson, (born 27 February 1941), often known as Sir Andrew Wilson and sometimes known informally as Sir Sandy Wilson, is a retired senior Royal Air Force officer.


Wratten is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Bill Wratten GBE, CB, AFC (born 1939), Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of RAF Strike Command from 1994

Frederick Wratten (1840–1926), English inventor

Jack Wratten (1906–1996), Progressive Conservative party member of the Canadian House of Commons

Paul Wratten (born 1970), retired English footballer who played as a midfielder

Wrattens Forest, Queensland

Wrattens Forest is a locality in the Gympie Region, Queensland, Australia. In the 2016 census, Wrattens Forest had a population of 3 people.


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