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GCB, DSO, MC (June 3rd 1897 - 12 July 1979).

John Slessor was born in 1897 and educated at Haileybury before joining the Royal Flying Corps in 1915. It was in 1915 whilst posted to 13 Squadron at Suttons’ Farm that John Slessor became the first British pilot to manage to intercept an enemy over the British Isles when he briefly engaged the Zeppelin L.15 but without success.

This was the beginning of a long and distinguished career in the RAF that would culminate in Sir John Slessor becoming Britains highest ranking Air Force officer, Chief of Air Staff between 1950 and 1952.

Sir John Slessor remained in the RAF after the conclusion of World War I and in 1936 as Deputy Director of Plans, he advocated the use of air power for ground attack to support land operations in Air Power and Armies. The power that air superiority would have on a battlefield was clearly demonstrated by the German Luftwaffe in its Blitzkrieg campaigns against Poland and France in 1939 and 1940 and has since remained a vital constituent of modern warfare.

During World War II, Sir John Slessor Commanded No. 5 Group in 1941, was assistant to the Chief of the Air Staff in 1942 and during 1943 -44 as the Commander of Coastal Command oversaw critical developments in the air campaign against U boats in the Atlantic. After this, in 1944, he became the Senior Air Officer commanding in the Mediterranean and Middle East.

In his role as Chief of Air Staff, Sir John Slessor was a major proponent of Britain developing a nuclear deterrent force, a doctrine he championed in his book The Great Deterrent.

After retiring from the RAF in 1952, Sir John Slessor became a Somerset County Councillor and was High Sherrif of Somerset from 1965 to 1966.

Probert, H. 1991. High Commanders of the Royal Air Force.
Slessor, J. 1936. Air Power and Armies
Slessor, J. 1952. The Great Deterrent


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