Rank/Name: S/L R.H. Niven DFC
Date of Award: 08/03/1940

NIVEN, F/L Robert Henry (37267) - Distinguished Flying Cross - Photographic Development Unit - awarded as per London Gazette dated 8 March 1940.  Born in Calgary, 1914; educated there.  Appointed Acting Pilot Officer on Probation, RAF, 16 September 1935; promoted to Flying Officer, 1938; to Flight Lieutenant, 1939; Acting Squadron Leader, November 1940; confirmed in that rank, 1 December 1941.  As of 3 October 1939 he formed the nucleus of a special flight at Heston consisting of six officers plus other ranks to investigate photo reconnaissance development (the other pilot was F/O M.V. Longbottom). Conducting trial sorties from 18 November 1939 onwards.  Numerous sorties listed in cards compiled by Wing Commander F.H. Hitchins and held by Directorate of History.  A notable one was 2 January 1940 photographing Kaiserlauten and northeast to Wiesbaden; when trying to pick up a map from floor he blacked out at 32,000 feet, regaining consciousness at 25,000 feet but unable to recover from spin until he had reached 5,000 feet. Killed 29/30 May 1942 ferrying Hudson aircraft to Britain.  Remained with that unit until mid-August 1940, when he went to Ferry Command.  Later in No.59 Squadron; killed in action, 29/30 May 1942.  No citation other than "for gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations."  Specifically listed in AFRO 1292/41 dated 7 November 1941 as a Canadian in the RAF who had been decorated as of that date.  Air Ministry Bulletin 439 refers.

Two of the officers [in the awards list] have been pioneers in a new method of aerial photography. They have taken overlapping photographs of many enemy defences.


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Source: London Gazette