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Latham, Richard Thomas Edwin

Personal Tribute, Flying Officer R. T. E. Latham

C. K. A. writes; - Presumed to have lost his life in air operations in August, 1943, at the age of 34. Flying Officer R. T. E. Latham is another example of war’ s merciless wastage of young men of the highest promise. The elder son of the Right Hon. Sir John Latham, Chief Justice of Australia, he had had a brilliant career at the University of Melbourne before coming to Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1931 as a Rhodes Scholar. He took a first class in the Honour School of Jurisprudence in 1933, was elected a Fellow of All Souls College in 1934 and was called to the Bar by Lincoln’ s Inn in June of the same year.

In the succeeding five years he engaged in extraordinarily versatile activities, partly in practice at the Bar, partly in teaching law at Oxford, at King’ s College, London and at the London School of Economics, and partly in the study of public affairs, more particularly the constitutional law of Australia and of the Dominions generally. He travelled widely in pursuit of his researches and in 1937 attended as a representative of Australia, the informal conference on British Commonwealth relations at Toronto. For some time he was in Spain assisting the Republican cause. He published numerous reviews and contributed a valuable chapter to Professor W,K. Hancock’ s “ Survey of British Commonwealth Affairs,” besides a large number of articles – remarkable proof of his wide and exact constitutional learning – to the third edition of the “ Encyclopaedia of the Laws of England.”

At the outbreak of war he was appointed to a responsible post in the Foreign Office, which he might well have retained in comparative safety and with unquestionable usefulness; but, in spite of health which from childhood had been far from strong, he preferred the way of sacrifice, and after training in Canada as an air observer, he received his commission in July, 1942. His catholic interests, both intellectual and artistic, the range and accuracy of his knowledge, and the dignity of his personality and character, marked him out with certainty for a career of distinction and public service; but the duty which he saw quite clearly and obeyed so unhesitatingly dds the greenest of laurels to the many which he had won in a short but fruitful life. He will be missed at the Athenaeum, and his gallant behaviour one night in trying to put out a fire in the middle of a blitz will never be forgotten. The Times 1 June 1944


First name(s)Richard Thomas Edwin
Family detailsSon of the Rt. Hon. Sir John Greig Latham, P.C., G.C.M.G., K.C., M.A., LL.M., and Lady Latham, of South Yarra, Victoria, Australia.
Previous educationUniversity of Melbourne, Magdalen College, Oxford (Rhodes Scholar)
CollegeKing's College London and/or King's College London Hospital
Dept / courseFaculty of Laws, Assistant Lecturer in Laws
QualificationsB.A. (Melbourne), B.C.L. (Oxon.); Rhodes Scholar;
Military unitRoyal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 455 Sqdn
Service number124933
War / conflictWorld War Two (1939-1945)
Date of death15/08/1943
Age at death34
Commemoration(s)King’ s College Chapel; Runnymede War Memorial; Commemorative Roll, Australian War Memorial
NotesFellow of All Souls (Oxon.).
SourcesKing’ s College London Archives, Commonwealth War Graves Commission; The Times

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