Catalogue description Marshal Sir John Slessor: Papers

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Details of AIR 75
Reference: AIR 75
Title: Marshal Sir John Slessor: Papers

Collection of personal and official papers of Sir John Slessor, Marshal of the Royal Air Force. The collection is a combination of papers formerly in the custody of the RAF Museum, Hendon and the Air Historical Branch. It relates to a number of different policy areas affecting the RAF such as war strategy against Germany, maritime operations, bomber operations, relations with NATO and war strategy against Russia. In 1950 Slessor succeeded Lord Tedder as chief of air staff.

Date: 1914-1980
Related material:

Private office papers of successive chiefs of air staff can be found in AIR 8

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in The National Archives: AC
Legal status: Public Records unless otherwise stated
Language: English

Sir John Cotesworth Slessor, Knight, 1897-1979

Royal Air Force, 1918-

Physical description: 159 file(s)
Access conditions: Subject to 30 year closure
Administrative / biographical background:

Marshal of the Royal Air Force (MRAF) Sir John Cotesworth Slessor GCB, DSO, MC, was born in India in 1897, and educated at Haileybury College, Herts.

During the war of 1914-1918 he served in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), seeing action in France and North Africa and was awarded the Military Cross (MC).

In 1920 he was commissioned into the RAF and served for two years in India, followed by a succession of varied home appointments.

During the period 1935-1937 he commanded a wing in the Indian army in Waziristan, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). Returning to the UK, he served as Director of Plans at the Air Ministry.

During the war of 1939-1945, Slessor served as Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Policy) [1942], Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Coastal Command [1943], Deputy Air Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Allied Air Forces [1944] and, in 1945, Air Member for Personnel on the Air Council.

In 1948 he became Commandant of the Imperial Defence College and, in 1950, was appointed Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), the professional head of the RAF. He retired in 1952, spending a great deal of time writing books and articles on air strategy. He also had the role of Chairman of the Management Committee for the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1955-1958) successfully led by Dr Vivian Fuchs and Sir Edmund Hillary. He died on 12 July 1979.

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