Who's Who - Hugh Trenchard

Hugh Trenchard Hugh Trenchard (1873-1956) helped to lay the foundations of the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War One.

Born on 3 February 1873 in Taunton, Somerset, Trenchard entered the British army in 1893 and took part in the South African War of 1899-1902 (suffering a severe lung wound), and again later in Nigeria.

Returning home to Britain through illness in 1912 Trenchard learned to fly at T.O.M. Sopwith's Flying School and the following year was made assistant commander of the Central Flying School in Wiltshire.

With war declared Trenchard was placed at the head of the nascent Royal Flying Corps, first at home and then in France in 1915; at that time the RFC was merely a branch of the army.

While commanding the RFC Trenchard established a policy of claiming air superiority by launching successive waves of attacks in order to gain air control - an approach that quickly became standard RFC (and later RAF) policy, although Trenchard attracted much contemporary (and subsequent) criticism for despatching obsolete aircraft on fighting missions with great consequent loss of life.

Trenchard also focussed the RFC's efforts upon ensuring that his air crews provided adequate support for forces on the ground.  Much admired by Commander-in-Chief Douglas Haig, he was appointed Chief of Air Staff in January 1918 (the year he was knighted) but resigned his position three months later following a quarrel with Lord Rothermere, the Air Secretary.

Later the same year, in June 1918, Trenchard was given responsibility for the organisation of the Inter-allied Independent Bomber Force, consisting of a collection of heavy RAF bombers intended to raid rail and industrial targets in Germany.

Re-appointed Chief of Air Staff by War and Air Minister Winston Churchill in 1919 (the year he was created a baronet) Trenchard founded training colleges for air cadets and staff officers and introduced a system of short-service commissions so as to provide a reservoir of trained personnel should the need arise.

Remaining Chief of Staff until 1927 Trenchard was made the first marshal of the RAF in that year, retiring two years later.  In 1930 he was created a baron and the following year appointed commissioner of the London metropolitan police, serving until 1935.  As commissioner he implemented a series of reforms including the establishment of the police training college at Hendon.

In 1936 he he was created a viscount and entered private business, acting as chairman of the United Africa Company until 1953.  Regarded by many as 'the father of the RAF', Hugh Trenchard died on 10 February 1956 in London at the age of 83.

Prevalent dysentery among Allied soldiers in Gallipoli came to be referred to as "the Gallipoli gallop".

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