Stay the Distance: The Life and Times of Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Michael Beetham

By Higham, Robin | Air Power History, Summer 2015 | Go to article overview

Stay the Distance: The Life and Times of Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Michael Beetham


Higham, Robin, Air Power History


Stay the Distance: The Life and Times of Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Michael Beetham. By Peter Jacobs. Barnsley, UK: Pen & Sword Books, 2011. Photographs. Appendix. Bibliography. Pp 336. $50.00 ISBN: 978-1-84832-552-4

Wing Commander Peter Jacobs was chosen to write the Beetham story following the death of Air Commodore Henry Probert, Head of the Air Historical Branch, who Jacobs notes had planned to write the book. Beetham, the second longest serving Chief of the Air Staff since Lord Trenchard (1919-1930), subsequently chose Jacobs from their long professional association and for Jacobs' Air Staff knowledge of squadron procedures or patterns with the Air Staff.

Both Trenchard and Beetham have a good deal in common. Both served at times of financial crisis; both had to organize and order the RAF; and both were very familiar with commanding topics. However, Trenchard was a poor flier and normally was flown by a trained pilot, whereas Beetham, on the other hand, starting out his career as a pilot in World War II and sought to be qualified in every aircraft on the RAF inventory. When, for instance, he went to visit or inspect a unit he hadn't visited before, he immediately got out his parachute and his hard-hat helmet and checked out in that aircraft. As Chief of the Air Staff for seven years, he tried to visit every station and, thus, kept in close touch with the service itself. …

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