Tedder: Quietly in Command

By Ritchie, Sebastian | Air & Space Power Journal, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

Tedder: Quietly in Command


Ritchie, Sebastian, Air & Space Power Journal


Tedder: Quietly in Command by Vincent Orange. Frank Cass Publishers (http://www.frankcass. com), Taylor & Francis Group, 11 New Fetter Lane, London, EC4P 4EE, United Kingdom, 2004, 480 pages, $55.00 (hardcover).

As Eisenhower's deputy and air commander during the liberation of Europe between 1943 and 1945, and as air officer commanding (AOC) Middle East from 1941 to 1943, Marshal of the Royal Air Force Lord Tedder fully earned his reputation as one of the outstanding Allied high commanders of the second World War. Although an early biography by Roderick Owen was published in 1952, and Tedder's memoirs, With Prejudice, appeared in 1966, there has long been a need for an updated biography drawing on archival sources released since the 1960s and on the enormous volume of research and writing about the war undertaken since that time. Vincent Orange's eagerly awaited study-Tedder: Quietly in Command-will therefore be welcomed throughout the military-history community, particularly by students of air power history.

Arthur Tedder was born in 1890 and was educated at Whitgift School and Cambridge University, where he read history. He was commissioned into the Dorsetshire Regiment in 1915 and joined the Royal Flying Corps in the following year. He was appointed squadron leader in the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1919 and then rose steadily through the ranks during the 1920s and early 1930s to reach air commodore in 1934, when he became the Air Ministry's director of training at the beginning of the first of the pre-second World War RAF expansion programmes. In 1936 he became AOC Far East, based in Singapore; he was promoted to air vice-marshal in 1937 and returned to the Air Ministry in 1938 to become director general of research and development, during which time he helped to initiate stich war-winning aircraft as the de Havilland Mosquito and actively promoted the development and production of Sir Frank Whittle's jet engine. After some difficult months under William Maxwell Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook, in the Ministry of Aircraft Production, he was promoted to the acting rank of air marshal and sent to the Middle East as deputy AOC in November 1940; he was then appointed AOC in June 1941.

Although tipped as a future chief of the Air Staff in the mid-1930s, it was to be in the desert war between 1941 and 1943 that Tedder first proved his exceptional qualities as a high commander. Assuming his appointment under immensely difficult operational circumstances, with scarce resources and under constant criticism from the other armed services, Tedder transformed the RAF in the Middle East into a formidable fighting machine-flexible, highly mobile, and capable of winning and maintaining control of the air, as well as of providing ample support to land and maritime forces. …

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