I am currently the Royal Air Force Museum’s resident Aviation Historian. My primary duties include, but not limited to, the creation and vetting of historical narratives for use by the museum; provide historical contributions to new exhibitions; undertake original research and oversee preparation of material for publication; lecture on the history of the Royal Air Force and its antecedents plus other related issues.
Additionally, I am a PhD candidate at the Centre for War Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK. I am currently writing a thesis entitled ‘The Forgotten Career of Air Chief Marshal Leadership Development, Succession Planning and Promotion in the inter-war Royal Air Force’ under the supervision of Air Commodore (ret’d) Dr Peter Gray.
The RAF’s organisational culture in the inter-war period was built on the basic assumption of independence, the shared belief in ‘Command of the Air’ and the value of the ‘Air Force Spirit’. However, the historiography of the RAF in the inter-war period has tended to focus on the two former elements with little reference to the latter value. This has led to a concentration on its doctrinal development with a particular focus on strategic bombing. This distorted analysis of the RAF’s development ignores the human element that Marshal of the Royal Air Force Viscount Trenchard was most concerned with when in 1919 he noted the importance of producing the ‘Air Force Spirit’ through rigorous education and training. To this end my thesis hopes to re-focus our understanding of the RAF’s development by considering how it developed its future leaders in this period. It does this by examining the often misunderstood career of Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory. This thesis will not only highlight an hitherto unexplored aspect of the RAF’s development but it will also seek to answer the question of why a commander with so many perceived detractors reached the senior level of command. It does this using a methodology grounded in an understanding of leadership and organisational theory that examine the interrelated ideas of the development of leaders, leadership development, succession planning and promotion.
My expertise lies in Air Power History, Theory and Doctrine, Leadership, Command and Morale, Military Innovation, Military Culture and the history of Professional Military Education. In 2011, I was appointed a West Point Fellow in Military History at the United States Military Academy.
I am a member of the Centre for War Studies, Society for Military History, British Commission for Military History, Royal Aeronautical Society, Royal Air Force Historical Society, Navy Records Society and the Society for Army Historical Research. Additionally I am the convener of the The Second World War Military Operations Research Group.