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