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Identity statement

Reference code(s)
GB0099 KCLMA Slessor
SLESSOR, MRAF Sir John Cotesworth (1897-1979)
Extent and medium of the unit of description (quantity, bulk, or size)
1 box or 0.01m3


Name of creator(s)

Slessor, Sir, John Cotesworth, 1897-1979, Knight, Marshal of the Royal Air Force

Administrative / Biographical history

Born, Rhanikhet, India, 1897; educated at the Dragon School, Haileybury; served in the Royal Flying Corps London Air Defence and in France, Egypt and Sudan, 1915-1918; served with the RAF in India, 1921-1923; RAF Staff College, 1924-1925; commanded No 4 Squadron, 1925-1928; Air Staff, Air Ministry, 1928-1930; Instructor, Staff College, Camberley, 1931-1934; commanded No 3 Indian Wing, Quetta, 1935; Waziristan operations, 1936-1937; Director of Plans, Air Ministry, 1937-1941; Aide de Camp to the King, 1938; Air Commodore, 1939; Air Officer Commanding 5 (Bomber) Group, 1941; Air Vice Marshal, 1941; Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, (Policy), Casablanca Conference, 1942-1943; Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Coastal Command, 1943; Air Marshal, 1943; Commander in Chief, RAF, Mediterranean and Middle East, 1944-1945; Member of Air Council for Personnel, 1945-1947; Air Chief Marshal, 1946; Commandant, Imperial Defence College, 1948-1949; Principal Air Aide de Camp to the King, 1948-1950; Marshal of the RAF, 1950; Chief of the Air Staff, 1950-1952; retired, 1953, died, 1979.

Publications: Air Power and Armies (Oxford: 1936); Strategy for the West (London: 1954); The Central Blue: Recollections and Reflections etc (London: 1956); What Price Coexistence? A Policy for the Western Alliance (London: 1962); Command and Control of Allied Nuclear Forces: A British View (London: 1965); These Remain: A Personal Anthology: Memories of Flying, Fighting and Field Sports (London: 1969).

Archival history

The papers were given to Mr John Costello and Mr Terry Hughes by John Slessor while preparing their book The Battle of the Atlantic (London, 1977).

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Presented to the Centre by Mr Terry Hughes, Jan 2007.

Content & structure

Scope and content

Papers of MRAF Sir John Slessor, 1965-1968, including: correspondence regarding the Defence Review on Naval Airpower with Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Elworthy; W M Mills, Ministry of Defence; Edward Shackleton, Ministry of Defence; Hawker Siddeley Aviation Ltd; Air Marshal Sir Kenneth Cross, Transport Command; and others, 1965-1968, particularly debating the use of aircraft carriers. Correspondence regarding the Battle of the Atlantic with Vice Admiral Sir Peter Gretton; Capt Stephen Roskill, historian; the Air Historical Branch; the Naval Historical Branch; and others, 1966-67, including statistical analysis of efficacy of RAF and information and statistics from Air History Branch regarding U-Boat destruction, 1955. Correspondence with Capt B H Liddell Hart, 1965; with Rear Admiral Samuel Morison, USNR, 1968; with Professor Arthur Marder, 1966. Articles by Slessor relating to the Defence Review on Naval Airpower, including: 'An Integral part of the Fleet', 1964; 'The Capital Ship Complex', 1965; 'Air Power - Seabourne or Shore-based', 1965; 'Naval Air Power - Is it Worth It?', 1965; 'The Story of Jutland: Some reflections on Vol. 3 of "From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow" - Arthur J Marder', 1966; 'Air Power and the Defence Review', 1966; 'Air Power East of Suez', 1966; 'The Purchase of the F111', 1966; 'Meeting Today's Defence Needs: Virtues of Shore-Based Planes', letter to The Times , 1968; and 'The Air League's Memorandum on Defence - January 1967', 1967. Also articles by others including: 'The case for the Aircraft Carrier' by Fletcher Pratt, and response 'The Case for Land-Based Air Power' by Francis V Drake, The Reader's Digest , 1949; German, Italian and Japanese U-Boat Casualties during the War: Particulars of Destruction , (HMSO, 1946); A memorandum on Defence , The Air League, 1967; and 'Merchant Aircraft Carriers' by Kenneth Poolman, Air Pictorial , Oct 1968.

System of arrangement

In sections as above.

Conditions of access & use

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, attention of the Director of Archives and Information Management.

Language/scripts of material


Finding aids

Summary guide entry on-line.

Allied materials

Existence and location of originals
King's College London College Archives
Related units of description

The papers of: Capt B H Liddell Hart (Refs: 1/644, 5/22, 10/1936, 11/1937, 12/1955, 13/53, 15/5); Gen H L Ismay (Refs: 2/3, 3/4, 4/14, 4/24, 5/19); Gen Sir R N O'Connor (Ref: 7/20) and AVM S W B Menaul (Refs: 1/1, 5/3, 6/55, 7/2) contain correspondence with Slessor.



Decorations: GCB, KCB, CB, DSO, MC, DL

Description control

Archivist's Note

Entry compiled by Katharine Higgon.

Rules or conventions

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

This catalogue is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License. This catalogue may be updated from time to time in order to reflect additional material and/or new understandings of the material.

Date(s) of descriptions

Sept 2007

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  • Air transport
  • Aircraft
  • Aircraft carriers
  • Chemical actions and uses
  • International conflicts
  • Military aircraft
  • Naval aviation
  • Pharmaceutic aids
  • Ships
  • Specialty uses of chemicals
  • Submarines
  • Transport
  • Vehicles
  • War
  • Wars (events)
  • World War Two (1939-1945)
  • World wars (events)

Personal names

  • Slessor, Sir, John Cotesworth, 1897-1979, Knight, Marshal of the Royal Air Force
  • Slessor, Sir, John Cotesworth, 1897-1979, Knight, Marshal of the Royal Air Force

Corporate names

  • RN, Royal Navy

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