Hugh Vivian Champion de Crespigny was the fourth of the six sons of my great great grandfather, Philip Champion de Crespigny (1850 – 1927).  His mother was Sophia Montgomery Grattan née Beggs (1870 – 1936).

He was born on 8 April 1897 at “Ottowa”, Gladstone Parade, Elsternwick, Melbourne.

Family Notices. (1897, April 12). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 1. Retrieved January 6, 2014, from
inscribed For Birdie – with love from H. V. Champion de Crespigny Nov. 1912. Birdie was the wife of Hugh’s oldest brother Philip. This photograph came to me by way of Birdie and Philip’s son John

On 30 August 1914 Hugh enlisted in the 7th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force.  He had previously served as 2nd Lieutenant in the 46th Battalion of the Senior Cadets from 1 January 1914 resigning on 14 October 1914. He was discharged to the 2nd Expeditionary Force in October 1914. (NAA: B2455, DE CRESPIGNY H V C) Hugh was only 17 years 4 months at the time of this enlistment.  His original attestation papers are not available.

In May 1915 his name (and that of his brother Constantine Trent) was added to the Brighton Grammar School Roll of Honour.

The War. (1915, May 8). Brighton Southern Cross (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 4. Retrieved January 7, 2014, from

Hugh Champion de Crespigny enlisted in the British Army on 16 Jul 1915 as a Flying Officer in the Special Reserve RFC (Royal Flying Corps). He had gained his Royal Aero Club Aviator Certificate No 1099 on 26 February 1915. He retired from the Airforce in November 1945 as an Air Vice-Marshall (the equivalent of an army Major General). (

Inscribed H. V. Champion de Crespigny taken on his Viplane (Vicars) – Netheravon – England. For Phil and Birdie. Accompanying a letter from France dated 3rd April 1916.

From RFC Communique No 24 (13 December 1915):

2nd Lt De Crespigny and Lt Insall (Vickers Fighter, 11 Sqn) while patrolling over Bienvillers, sighted an LVG [German reconnaissance two-seater]. They chased the hostile machine which crossed the lines and made off in the direction of Bapaume.(

From RFC Communique No 27 (14 January 1916):

2nd Lt De Crespigny and 2nd Lt Hughes Chamberlain (Vickers F.B, 11 Sqn) sighted a Fokker near Bertincourt at about 8,000 feet. The German immediately began to dive, the Vickers following and firing nearly one drum of tracer bullets. The Fokker was seen to descend with great speed to earth and was last seen in a field. As the day was hazy it was impossible to ascertain if the hostile machine was completely wrecked. An Albatros and another Fokker were sighted at about 2,000 feet, but owing to engine trouble the Vickers was unable to attack and recrossed the lines.(

From RFC Communique No 32 (2 April 1916):

Capt de Crespigny on a machine of 11 Sqn (observer, 2nd Lt J Hughes Chamberlain) while on patrol attacked five LVG biplanes over Lens. He fired three drums at the first at about 11 yards range and three drums at the second at about 40 yards. The latter dived steeply towards the German lines. The other three machines made off. Capt de Crespigny’s machine was now completely out of control, the engine having stopped, the propellor being smashed and the control wire shot away. Capt de Crespigny, however, with great skill brought his machine to the ground behind our own lines without any casualty to himself or his observer. (

Hugh was awarded the Military Cross in 1916:

2nd Lt. (temp. Capt.) Hugh Vivian Champion de Crespigny, Suff. R. and R.F.C.

For conspicuous gallantry and skill, notably when he attacked five enemy machines over the enemy’s lines. He drove away one, and brought another to the ground badly hit. His own machine was thencrippled by the fire of the remaining three, but, after emptying one more drum at them, he brought his machine down safely in our lines.(London Gazette – 16 May 1916)

In 1918 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross

“Maj. Hugh Vivian Champion de Crespigny, M.C. (Suff. R.). (FRANCE)
A brilliant and gallant officer who displays high initiative in night flying, in which service his example has been invaluable to those under his command. On the night of 23rd-24th. September Major Champion de Crespigny carried out a long distance bombing raid. Flying a machine unsuitable for night duty, and in face of adverse weather conditions, he reached, and successfully bombed, his objective. A fine performance, calling for cool courage and determination.
(M.C. gazetted 16th May, 1916.)” (London Gazette – 3 December 1918)

After the war he was promoted to captain and then posted to India.(

During the Second World War he served as AOC, AHQ Iraq and Persia in 1942 and 1943.(

Once A Private. (1943, October 22). Army News (Darwin, NT : 1941 – 1946), p. 3. Retrieved January 7, 2014, from and AUSTRALIAN’S AIR POST. (1943, October 16). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 9. Retrieved January 7, 2014, from

Air Vice Marshal Hugh Champion de Crespigny, Commander of the Royal Air Force in Iraq and Iran, at his desk. Photographed by Cecil Beaton. Photograph CBM 2192 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.

After the war Hugh de Crespigny served as Regional Commissioner, Schleswig-Holstein Control Commission for Germany.(

As British governor of Schleswig-Holstein, Air Marshal Hugh Vivian Champion de Crespigny (center, with hat in hand) visits the Kieler refugee camp in June 1947 together with the British minister for the occupied territories in Germany, Lord Francis Pakenham (right). Image retrieved from ZENTRUM GEGEN VERTREIBUNGEN (Centre against Expulsions)

Wants RAF To Save Children. (1945, November 27). The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950), p. 13 Edition: HOME EDITION. Retrieved January 7, 2014, from

Graham-Dixon, Francis. The Allied Occupation of Germany: The Refugee Crisis, Denazification and the Path to Reconstruction.  I.B.Tauris, 2013. Google Books, 2013. Web. 7 Jan. 2014. <>. pages 94-5

In 1926 Hugh married Sylvia Usher in Wiltshire.

Family Notices. (1926, November 6). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 13. Retrieved January 7, 2014, from
Air Force Wedding at Fovant. (1926, October 15). Western Gazette (Yeovil, Somerset), p. 7. Retrieved from Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The article goes on to describe the dresses, the presents and the guest list.  The guests included Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny who proposed the toast of the bride and bridegroom as well as Hugh’s brother Constantine and his wife, plus a Colonel Champion de Crespigny – not sure who this is but probably one of the sons of Sir Claude.

 Hugh and Sylvia had four sons

  • Robert Vivian (1927 – 1929)
  • Hugh Philip (1928 – 2004)
  • Anthony Richard (1930 – 2008)
  • Julian Augustus Claude (1934 – 1974)

Hugh Vivian Champion de Crespigny died on 20 June 1969 at Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa.

The Times 23 June 1969 page 18

Medals of Hugh Vivian Champion_de_Crespigny which were sold in 2001 for £6200 together with some photographs and letters. Lot description from ?itemid=28098 (retrieved 2011): A fine Second War C.B., Great War Pilot’s M.C., D.F.C. group of twelve awarded to Air Vice-Marshal H. V. Champion_de_Crespigny, commanding No. 29 Squadron R.F.C. and No. 65 Squadron R.A.F. on the Western Front, and with extensive service on the North West Frontier of India The Most Honourable Order of The Bath, C.B. (Military) neck badge, silver-gilt and enamels, in its Garrard case of issue; Military Cross, G.V.R.; Distinguished Flying Cross, G.V.R.; 1914-15 Star (2. Lieutenant, R.F.C.); British War and Victory Medals, with M.I.D. oak leaf (Major, R.A.F.); India General Service 1908-35, 4 clasps, Mahsud 1919-20, Waziristan 1919-21, Waziristan 1921-24, North West Frontier 1930-31 (F/Lt., R.A.F.); Africa Star; Defence & War Medals; Coronation 1937; French Croix de Guerre 1914-18, the last eleven mounted as worn, together with a Polish pilot’s badge by Firmin, nearly very fine or better, the I.G.S. extremely rare (13) £4000-4500 Sold by Dix Noonan Webb, 16 Bolton St, Mayfair, London, W1J 8BQ.