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  Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory


Trafford Leigh             

b: 11 Jul 1892                                                           d: 14 Nov 1944

KCB - 1 Jan 1943 (CB - 11 Jul 1940), DSO - 1 Jan 1919, MiD - 31 Dec 1918, MiD - 11 Jul 1940, MiD - 1 Jan 1943, LL.B (Magdalene College, Cambridge), PR2 - 29 May 1942, OK1 - 30 Jan 1945, LoM (CC) - 30 Jan 1945, 2nd Prize - "Gordon Shepherd"  1930, 1934.

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

Photo - Crown Copyright©

(Army): - 2 Lt (P): 3 Oct 1914, Lt: 21 Jun 1915, (T) Capt: 2 Nov 1916, (T) Maj: 14 May 1917, Capt: 14 May 1917.

(RAF): - (T) Maj [Capt]: 1 Apr 1918, Sqn Ldr: 1 Aug 1919 [1 Apr 1918], Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1925, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1932, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1936, Act AVM: xx Jun 1937, AVM: 1 Nov 1938, Act AM: 13 Jul 1942, (T) AM: 1 Dec 1942, ACM: 15 Dec 1943, AM: 1 Jan 1944, ACM: 1 Jan 1944.

 xx Sep 1914:        Private, 10th (Territorial) Battalion, The King’s Liverpool Regiment.

 3 Oct 1914:          Officer, 10th (Territorial) Battalion, The King’s Liverpool Regiment.

xx Apr 1915:         Officer, 3rd Battalion, The South Lancashire Regiment

  4 Jan 1916:          U/T Pilot, No 1 School of Aeronautics, Reading, No 12 (Reserve), No 20 (Reserve) Sqns, CFS.

 7 Jul 1916:            Pilot, No 5 Sqn. (BE2c, BE2d – Western Front)

xx Jul 1916:           Pilot , No 7 Sqn. (BE2c, BE2e – Western Front)

 2 Nov 1916:         Flight Commander, No 7 Sqn.

14 May 1917:        Officer Commanding, No 15 (Reserve) Sqn.

27 Nov 1917:         Officer Commanding, No 8 (Army Op) Sqn. (FK8 – Western Front)

xx Nov 1918:         Officer Commanding, Armistice Sqn.

 1 Aug 1919:          Awarded Permanent Commission as a Major

15 Dec 1919:         Inspector of Recruiting, South East Area

1 Feb 1921:           Officer Commanding, 2 Sqn, School of Army Co-operation.

 7 May 1923:         Staff Officer, Directorate of Training

xx Oct/Nov 1923:   Staff Officer, Deputy Directorate of Staff Duties

 4 May 1925:          Attended RAF Staff College

12 Apr 1926:          Air Staff, HQ No 22 Group.

10 Apr 1927:          Commandant, School of Army Co-operation.

 1 Jan 1930:            Instructor - Army Staff College, Camberley

28 Jul 1931:            Deputy Director of Staff Duties

 1 Dec 1931:           Supernumerary, No 1 Air Defence Group.

 1 Jan 1932:            Air Staff, Directorate of Operations and Intelligence

 2 Feb 1932:          Air Adviser - Disarmament Conference, Geneva

 1 Oct 1932:           Deputy Director of Staff Duties

16 Jan 1934:           Attended Imperial Defence College.

19 Dec 1934:          Officer Commanding, No 2 Flying Training School, Digby

22 Nov 1935:          SASO, RAF Iraq

14 Dec 1937:          AOC. No 12 (Fighter) Group.

18 Dec 1940:          AOC, No 11 (Fighter) Group.

28 Nov 1942:          AOC in C, Fighter Command

15 Nov 1943:          C in C, Allied Expeditionary Air Force

The Armistice Squadron was responsible for ferrying personnel and mail to and from the Armistice Conference in France. Having originally planned a legal career, with the end of hostilities he decided that he had now fallen behind his contemporaries and opted to apply for a permanent commission in the RAF.  He commanded No 12 Group during both the build up to and the Battle of Britain itself.  It was during the Battle of Britain that Leigh-Mallory advocated the 'Big Wing' principle in preference to the tactics being employed by AVM Park in No 11 Group.  Although sound in concept, it required time to assemble the 'Big Wing', a luxury not available to Park at that time.  However following the Battle of Britain, Leigh-Mallory replaced Park at No 11 Group.  Whilst AOC No 11 Group, he was responsible for coordinating air operations during the planning and execution of the Dieppe landings in August 1942.  The post of C-in-C  Allied Expeditionary Air Forces, involved the coordinating of all the air elements of the proposed invasion of Europe, Operation OVERLORD.  However, it  was not without it's problems, one being that many felt that this role should have been carried out by ACM Tedder, Deputy Supreme Commander to Eisenhower.  

Eventually, with the main tasks in Normandy complete and increasing conflict within the Command structure, Leigh-Mallory accepted the post of Air C-in-C South East Asia Command.  Following leave and illness he set out on his flight to Ceylon on 14 November 1944 from Northolt.  Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory and Lady Leigh-Mallory took off in York MW126, never to be seen alive again.  In June 1945 the remains of the aircraft, crew and passengers were found on the side of a mountain in the Alps.  Ironically, his elder brother, George, disappeared and was presumed killed whilst attempting to scale the summit of Everest in 1924.  The reason why his aircraft was flying low enough (it's flight plan showed a planned altitude of 17000ft) to hit the mountain is not known, but as a result he became the highest ranking RAF casualty of World War Two.

Further reading: - Big Wing - Biography of ACM Leigh-Mallory, Newton Dunn, Bill - Airlife (1992)  

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