Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Marshal of the RAF Lord Tedder

Arthur William Tedder, 1st Baron TedderArthur William              

b: 11 Jul 1890              r: 30 May 1951                       d: 3 Jun 1967

Baron - 1 Jan 1946 (Conferred 8 Feb 1946), GCB - 27 Nov 1942 (KCB - 1 Jan 1942, CB - 1 Feb 1937), BA (Hons) 1912, MiD - 22 Jun 1919, MiD - 5 Jun 1919, Commendation - 3 Jun 1942, MMV (S) - 26 May 1917, ONI (GC) - 27 Aug 1943, OOA (GO) - 27 Aug 1943, LoM (CC) - 27 Aug 1943, PR (GC) - 1 Oct 1943, OK1 - 28 Aug 1945, LoH, GC - xx xxx 1945 (LoH, GO - xx xxx 1945, LoH, Cdr - xx xxx 1942), DSM (US) - 14 Jun 1946, GCOCP - 18 Jun 1946, CdeG (P) (B) - 18 Jun 1946, GI-GC - 6 Sep 1946, CdeG (P) - 27 Sep 1946, ON(KGC) - 31 Oct 1947.  

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

Hon Fellow, Magdalene Coll, Cambridge, Hon DCL -  Oxford  (xx xxx 1945), Hon LLD, Cambridge (31 Jan 1946), Leeds (10 May 1946),  Glasgow (19 Jun 1946), Sheffield (25 Jun 1946), Birmingham, Edinburgh

(Army): - 2 Lt: 2 Sep 1913, Lt: 10 Jan 1915,  (T) Capt: 21 Mar 1916, Capt: 13 Jun 1916, (T) Maj: 1 Jan 1917.

(RAF): - Maj: 1 Apr 1918, (T) Lt Col: 24 Jun 1918 - 2 Apr 1919,  Sqn Ldr: 1 Aug 1919 [1 Apr 1918], Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1924, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1931,  A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1934, AVM: 1 Jul 1937,  Act AM:  29 Nov 1940, (T) AM: 1 Jun 1941,  AM: 14 Apr 1942 [1 Jun 1941],  (T) ACM: 1 Jul 1942,  ACM: 6 Jun 1945,  MRAF: 12 Sep 1945.  

Arthur William Tedder, 1st Baron Tedder

by Bassano Ltd
bromide print, 20 July 1936
NPG x85425

National Portrait Gallery, London

xx xxx 1909:        Attended Magdalene College, Cambridge University

 2 Sep 1913:    Officer, Dorset Regiment. (Special Reserve)

15 Jan 1916:    Attended No 1 School of Aeronautics.

27 Apr 1916:   'Wings' Course, Central Flying School.

16 Jun 1916:    Pilot, No 25 Sqn RFC. (Bristol Scout C  - Western Front)

9 Aug 1916:     Flight Commander, No 25 Sqn RFC.

 1 Jan 1917:     Officer Commanding, No 70 Sqn. RFC. (Sopwith 11 Strutter Western Front)

25 Jun 1917:    Officer Commanding, No 67 Sqn RFC/RAF. (Various types Middle East)

17 May 1918:  Officer Commanding, School of Navigation and Bomb Dropping (Egypt).

24 Jun 1918:    Officer Commanding, 38th (Training) Wing. (Egypt)  

 2 Apr 1919:     Reverted to Major (A).

20 May 1919:  Officer Commanding, No 274 Sqn. (V/1500 Bircham Newton)

 1 Aug 1919:    Awarded Permanent Commission as a Major

 1 Feb 1920:    Officer Commanding, No 207 Sqn. (DH9A Bircham Newton/Turkey)

 6 Aug 1923:     Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

24 Sep 1923:   Attended RN Staff College.

 3 Sep 1924:    Officer Commanding, No 2 FTS.

 1 Jan 1927:     Air Staff, Directorate of Training .

19 Dec 1927:   Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

16 Jan 1928:    Attended Imperial Defence College.

 3 Jan 1929:     Assistant Commandant, RAF Staff College.

 1 Jan 1932:     Supernumerary, RAF Depot

16 Jan 1932:    Officer Commanding, Air Armament School - Eastchurch.

 4 Apr 1934:    Director of Training.

11 Nov 1936:   AOC, RAF Far East.

20 Jul 1938:     Director-General of Research & Development

 1 Aug 1940:    (Deputy?) Air Member for Development & Production

29 Nov 1940:   Deputy AOC in C, RAF Middle East Command

 1 Jun 1941:     AOC in C, RAF Middle East Command

15 Feb 1943:   Air C-in-C, Mediterranean Air Command

10 Dec 1943:   Air C-in-C, Mediterranean Allied Air Forces

17 Jan 1944:    Air C-in-C & Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, SHAEF.

 1 Jan 1946:     Chief of the Air Staff

Lord Tedder during a visit to Almaza Transit Camp in 1948

Photo courtesy - Bob Abela (from his uncle's album)

 2 Jan 1950:     Chairman, British Joint Services Mission Washington

26 Feb 1950:    Placed on half pay.

 1 Apr 1950:     Restored to full pay.

17 Aug 1948 - 16 Aug 1955:    Honorary Colonel of a T.A. Unit

Granted a reserve commission in the Dorsetshire Regiment whilst at University, he joined the Colonial Service and was appointed to the administration in Fiji.  Returning to Britain he rejoined his regiment, he sustained a knee injury in 1916, which made him unfit for further service in the infantry and so he joined the RFC.  Appointed Director-General of Research and Development., he immediately threw his energies into the post at a time when major changes and innovations were beginning to appear, such as the introduction of new monoplane eight gun fighters and the development of the new large four-engined bombers.

When war broke out his department was transferred to the newly created Ministry of Aircraft Production, but after the appointment of Lord Beaverbrook as Minister, Tedder found himself increasingly at odds with his chief and consequently Churchill.  Therefore when Longmore requested him as his deputy in the Middle East, his request was turned down, but following the capture of AVM  Boyd, the alternative choice, when his aircraft ran out of fuel and landed in Sicily, Churchill changed his mind and agreed to Tedder's appointment.  When Longmore was recalled to Britain in May 1941 to 'discuss' matters in the Middle East with Churchill and the Air Staff, Tedder assumed temporary command which with Longmore's subsequent removal resulted in Tedder's formal appointment as AOC in C.  In 1942 when Freeman returned to the Ministry of Aircraft Production, Portal immediately nominated Tedder for the post of Vice Chief of the Air Staff, which he was due to assume after the Torch landings in November.  Shortly after the success of these landings, he went to Cairo to meet his wife, who was flying out to visit him.  One report states that he was actually watching her aircraft approach he had to stand and watch in horror as it left the end of the runway and burst into flames, killing everyone on board, but this may not be the case.  

However, it soon became obvious to Portal and Eisenhower that effective control of the air forces in the whole Mediterranean area needed a single Air Commander and Eisenhower's request for Tedder to fill this role and Portal's agreement to release him from his proposed appointment led to him assuming his new duties at the beginning of 1943.  The close working relationship developed between Eisenhower and Tedder  resulted in the former requesting that Tedder be appointed to the post of Deputy Supreme Allied Commander for Overlord.  As Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, he was responsible for all aspects of  air operations for the landings.  However the appointment of Trafford Leigh-Mallory as C in C, Allied Expeditionary Air Forces resulted in an almost dual command situation which led to a number of conflicts.  This problem was eventually solved by the appointment of Leigh-Mallory as Air Commander, South East Asia, thereby leaving Tedder effectively in command of all the Allied air assets operating on the continent up to the end of the war in Europe.

It was logical that on Portal's retirement as Chief of the Air Staff, Tedder should be appointed to replace him at the beginning of 1946 and on handing over the post in 1950, he spent a year in Washington as the Chairman of the British Joint Services Mission.   On his final retirement from the RAF in 1951 he returned to his old University, Cambridge, as Chancellor and also became Vice-Chairman of the Board of Governors of the BBC.  In 1951 he was appointed a member of the Royal Commission tasked with investigated what changes might be needed in the constitutions of the University of St Andrews and University College, Dundee.  As a Marshal of the RAF he attended the funeral of King George VI.  He was also Chairman and later President of Standard Triumph Ltd and Deputy President of the National Rifle Association.  

Further reading: - With Prejudice,   Tedder, Lord  - Cassell & Co Ltd      (1966)  

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Medal (United States)

"TEDDER, Arthur,  Sir,  Marshal of the Royal Air Force, GCB

Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, GCB, Royal Air Force, performed exceptionally meritorious service in a position of great responsibility as Deputy Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force.  He was responsible for the development of plans for the intensive use of air forces in direct support of ground operations in combat.  The technique which he developed for combined air-ground assault was of incalculable benefit in the far-flung and diversified military operations of the Allied armies, which culminated in the unconditional surrender of Germany.  This officer distinguished himself by his military skill, forceful character, extreme energy, unusual tact and outstanding leadership.  He contributed extensively to the Allied cause."

(Source - War Department Press Release intended for release on 24 November 1945 (found in National Archives of Canada, file HQ-C-54-27-94-32, Record Group 24, Volume 2236))

This page was last updated on 08/09/23

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