6. Group Captain Frederick Victor Charles Laws OBE

Group Captain Frederick Victor Charles Laws OBE1887 – 1975

Deputy Director of Photography (WW2)

Founder of aerial photo reconnaissance

F C V (Victor) Laws joined the Army on 1st February 1905 and began in the Coldstream Guards. He served in Egypt, the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and the Camel Corps. His enthusiasm with photography and the value of aerial photography prompted his determination to influence the senior officers with his ideas.

In 1914 Major Moore-Brabazon encouraged him and so began the birth of aerial photo reconnaissance. Laws became the first NCO in charge of photography in the RFC. In 1914, he went to France with No. 3 squadron to organize the air reconnaissance sections. He was commissioned in the field in November 1915. Laws and Major Moore-Brabazon improved the design of aerial cameras in collusion with Colin Williamson, of the Williamson manufacturing company. The need for more photographers prompted the establishment of the School of Photography at South Farnborough in 1915.  Promoted to Captain in 1916 he was posted to the HQ of Training Brigade.

By the end of the Great War, the late Lord Trenchard described him as “the most experienced aerial photographic adviser in England and possibly the world.”  In 1924 he took charge of the School of Photography and was promoted to Wing Commander in January 1927. In 1933 he retired from the RAF but rejoined the RAF in 1939 and was appointed Group Captain, Deputy Director of Photography at the Air Ministry. He retired from the RAF in May 1946 and served in a management capacity with air survey and cartography companies. He authored several articles and treatises on aerial photography and became known as the “father of aerial reconnaissance”, a legend in his own time.  Victor Laws attended the opening ceremony of the purpose built RAF School of Photography at Cosford, on 3rd December 1965.