About

I am currently the Royal Air Force Museum’s resident Aviation Historian. This role exists to promote and co-ordinate research at the RAF Museum. Key duties include the development, co-ordination and administration of research opportunities and programmes, internal and external, at the RAF Museum. The maintenance of a strong research profile by undertaking original research and oversee preparation of material for publication. To support the RAF Museum Research Board, and provide historical consultancy for exhibitions and media at the RAF Museum.

Additionally, I have just submitted PhD for examination at the Centre for War Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK. My thesis is entitled ‘The Forgotten Career of Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory: A Social and Cultural History of Leadership Development in the Inter-War Royal Air Force’ under the supervision of Air Commodore (ret’d) Dr Peter Gray.

My thesis examined the question of how an officer with so many perceived detractors reached senior leadership positions in the Royal Air Force of the Second World War. Utilising prosopography as a methodology, this thesis concluded that Leigh-Mallory was representative of the type of officer that the RAF developed during the inter-war years. This methodology highlighted the presence of key-shared experiences such as attendance at the RAF Staff College at Andover, which made officers’ such as Leigh-Mallory visible to senior leaders able to nurture careers. Grounded in an understanding of leadership theory, though recognising the limitations of applying modern language to historical analysis, this thesis surveyed the development processes used by the RAF, which formed the basis of nurtured officers’ shared experience and how the Service valued them. Bounded by the Service’s culture and ethos, this thesis argued that the RAF took an active interest in the leadership development of its officer class through modern conceptions of socialisation, job assignments, action learning and nurturing. The RAF had a stake in developing effective leaders, as these officers’ would defend its key assumption of independence. By understanding the culture and context of the development of the RAF’s senior leadership of the Second World War, this thesis now allows for a more considered understanding of the effectiveness of officers’ such as Leigh-Mallory during that conflict.

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.

Ross Mahoney

28 responses to “About

  1. Cheers from Canada!

    Stumbled over your website. I did my MA thesis on the development of British tactical air power and the Normandy campaign. Its deposited with the library at the Royal Military College in Kingston, but you can see an outline on my website at http://tactical-airpower.tripod.com/

    I have a few publications on the subject you might be interested in, which you can find on my personal homepage at http://pauldjohnston.tripod.com/
    (That page is sadly out of date, but you can still see the two articles I’m talking about)

    Cheers,

    Paul Johnston

  2. Paul

    Thank you for that. Had a look at your site. Some very interesting stuff there. The articles are very interest and are downloaded and saved for future reference!

    Ross

  3. Hello,
    I thought you are your readers might be interested in my new book, Borrowed Soldiers: Americans Under British Command, 1918 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2008). It is the story of two American Army divisions that trained and fought with the BEF in the summer and autumn 1918, including the breaking of the Hindenburg Line. It was originally a UK dissertation directed by Richard Holmes.

    Cheers,

    Mitch Yockelson

  4. Just come across your website. Spotted a minor faux pax. You say only four tanks got off the beach. My records show more than 14.

    Al Judson
    Archivist
    The King’s Own Calgary Regiment (we were there)

  5. Al – Thanks for that. The four I refer to comes from the report of the German 81st Corps and are the ones left on the promenade. You are quite right that 15 make it off the beach.

    Ross

  6. My uncle William McMullen was in the Calgary Tanks and was in this raid. Also from Cape Breton NS, My father was was in the West Nova Scotia Regment and was on guard duty during the time the Calagy Tanks were travelling to port before embarking the ships. My father told me he saw the name “Calgary Tanks” on the side of the Churchills and asked if the men knew where Billy was. The response was yes right there. They had a conversation after not seeing each other of months. After the raid my father was brought to investigation about the nature of his discussion. My uncle was on the ship and his tank was in a landing craft when the raid was called off.

    I have read some short histories of the regiment which do not include the Calgary Tanks outside of Caen. My father told me that my uncle was in a good tank position outside Caen and had a good gunner. If my memory (40 years ago) serves me correct, they hit the German tank 6 times. When the German located my uncle’s Sherman he was burned badly and all other crew members died. He returned to Canada in 1947 after much medical care for his burns.

    I continue to look for information about my father (wounded 3 times in Italy) and my Uncle. The Typhon at the French Caen Memorial is stirring.

  7. The I think your uncle was very lucky to still be on the landing craft as they did not fare well during the raid. You might want to keep an eye for the term 14 CATR (Canadian Army Trank Regiment) when reading histories as this was the Calgary’s other name.

    Ross

  8. Hi,

    Great webpage you have here! I see you went to UoB too. I’m doing an MA in Strategic Studies there, and I have to say it’s a really thorough course, nothing is missed out. I have a career related question for you: Is a PGCE compulsory for working in further education? I’ve been told many different things by the University career service, none of which have shed any light on the matter!

    Cheers
    James

  9. Cheers James.

    In answer to your question the answer is yes. However, you can, at the moment do it in service. That means starting off unqualified i.e. less money. There are new regulation coming in that states that all lecturers should have a PGCE and be a member of the Institure for Learning. This is certainly going to be the case. Best bet is have a read of the institute’s website.

    Ross

  10. The term CATR is not correct. It was CTR (Canadian Tank Regiment) later changed to CAR (Canadian Armoured Regiment)

    If Craig McMullen has an email address could I please get it or give him mine.

  11. Mr Al Judson. My apology for the delay I an be reached at
    CMcMullen@eastlink.ca
    My father John who was three times wounded with the West Nova Scotia Regiment. Ortona, Hitler Line and Lamone River, told me that my Uncle William landed in France on day plus 18 according to my memory. When the Calgary Tanks left Italy is unknown?

  12. Ross,
    I stumbled over your website whilst trawling for any and all information I can gather on Operation Jubilee. I hope you don’t mind, but despite the excellence of your work thus far I have a slightly ulterior motive for writing.
    I was a medical historian (PhD thesis on c.18th British Military Medicine), but moved from academia to banking about 9 years ago. However, I recently started researching the Dieppe Raid as a personal project. My principal interest is in the main assault, and particularly the activities and events taking place on White Beach. My Grandfather was a coxswain on LCT5 (no.121) – often seen burning brightly on the cover of many a Dieppe publication. Unfortunately, despite surviving Dieppe and D-Day unscathed he passed away in the early 50s long before I was born. There are many family legends about his 7 hour experience on the beach before he managed to get picked-up and return to Newhaven, and even after 6 months (sporadic research) there is still much I would like to find out and verify. As such I would love to hear from any Canadian veterans, especially any Hamilton Regiment (HRLI), or Calgary Tank crew survivors who were in and around the Casino area. I know LCT5 was knocked out as it disembarked its load of tanks and a detachment of HRLI c.05:30. Could there be anyone left who was actually on LCT5 (anyone in Churchills Blossom, or Buttercup, for example? – perhaps Al Judson can help out me there ?), or sheltered in the ship, or under the ramp once it was disabled? The family story goes that my granddad spent a number of hours under the ramp with a small number of Canadian troops. It’s a long shot, but perhaps someone remembers such a group, or was even part of it. Perhaps, someone may remember a sailor helping wounded troops on and off the stricken craft after it had become an impromptu first aid post? Or if there are any Naval veterans out there (especially LCT crews), I’d love to hear first hand accounts on life on board LCTs, the landings, training, etc.
    Obviously, I’m also happy to join in wider ranging historical debate and share research findings on Operation Jubilee with academics and all interested parties.
    I’m looking forward to hearing from you: philip.mills@rbs.com
    Good luck with the establishment of a War Studies course, its sounds like a very exciting project.
    Thanks
    Phil

  13. very interesting site Ross, Im glad I stumbled across it! I have a feeling I will be a frequent visitor!

  14. Hi Ross .. congrats on your thesis and progress to date. My dad (a WWII veteran) is doing some research on the Battle of Dieppe (1942), and he has asked me to find out the population of Dieppe in around 1940 — I’ve done some online searches and can’t find anything about it (even so far as consulting some French-language historical census records — which are few and far between). Do you by chance have any info on this .. or can you point me to someone/somewhere who/which does? // Many thanks in advance.

  15. Pingback: Welcome « The Aerodrome·

  16. Hi Ross,

    Great blog, haven’t looked at it in a while but there’s lots of interesting stuff on here.

    I’ve set up my own as an extension of my “Forgotten Steel” site to contain various witterings, take a look: https://forgottensteel.wordpress.com/

    Good luck with the PhD, still only early days with mine but the summer beckons with exciting research trips!

    Best wishes,

    -JK

  17. Cheers Jeremy. I’ll keep an eye on your blog, and add a link too.

    Ah research trips, the fun bit of of the PhD.

  18. Hello Ross,

    I thought this may be of interest for your work on Leigh Mallory.

    I share here excerpts from my meeting with Squadron Leader John Gordon Pattison, DSO, DFC, Légion d’honneur 27 January 1917 – 11 September 2009.

    A true gentleman, who survived the Battle of Britain against the odds. Lest we forget.

    Interview May 2009

    Sqn Ldr JP: I was up at Peterborough. My Squadron was there. I wasn’t flying for some reason so I went into the Ops room. There was a flap on. They’d sent a bloke night flying. He’d called for a Homing, they’d given a reverse vector – sent him out to sea. They then woke up to the situation and called him back. And he was getting near the aerodrome and he called up and said ‘Petrol Tank reading low. Request permission to bale out’
    And just at that moment, Leigh Mallory came in. The controller, all of a flap said ‘Sir. So and so… out of petrol, request permission to bale out?’ Leigh Mallory grabbed the phone…. “Leigh Mallory here! Permission not granted!!’ Turn on the Aerodrome lights!’
    And the controller said ‘There’s an air raid warning sir!’
    ‘I SAID TURN ON THE LIGHTS!’

    He got that fellow in. But you know, had the Germans been there and the aerodrome lit up, he would have been in awful trouble.
    But I admired his strength.

    N – Who shot you down?

    Sqn Ldr JP: – 109 the first time and a 190 the second time.

    N – Right, and you managed to parachute out?

    Sqn Ldr JP: – Ah well the first time, we were fighting mostly over Britain, and I was 20,000 feet and a 20 Millimeter Cannon Shell came down from behind, through my hip, came out below my leg. I managed to land in a disused aerodrome. And I can remember extremely well, coming in for a normal approach and landing. I turned the petrol off which had caught fire. And I couldn’t put it on the ground. I couldn’t push the stick forward. It wouldn’t go down! And so I thought ‘Well hell!’, I’ll have to go round again. Turned the petrol on The motor picked up, and I went round a long way back, and came in very low. Just hopped over the fence, and cut the motor, and sank down. Then I had no brakes! I was wheeling across the aerodrome at a hundred miles an hour thinking I would probably finish up in some trees somewhere. And there was an army ant aircraft thing I suppose, 3 blokes in a sand bagged hole. And one wheel hit the sand bag. The blokes had jumped out in the meantime, and that brought me to a halt. And I remember saying to tone of these chaps, ‘I think my leg is broken, give me a hand to get me out’

    Which he did, then I said ‘I’m sure my leg’s broken – Cut my flying boot off!’
    And the last thing I temember, him saying to one of his mates:
    ‘It looks a lovely new boot…’ (which it was…) ‘…It’s a pity to cut it!’
    And then I remember trying to eat grass, and that’s the last I remember. But there was a stray Airforce Doctor floating round, who I’m told was drunk. Filled me up with Morphine. And Morphine’s great stuff. Straight away the pain had gone. I felt like a million dollars and then he said ‘ When you get to hospital, tell them I’ve given you a double dose of Morphia. You’re not to have any more!’
    Well I went to a civilian hospital, Maidstone Hall. The first thing they did was fill me up with Morphia and that’s the last I remember of that!

    N – Oh dear.

    Sqn Ldr JP: – Yes. I had an Australian… I wish I knew or remembered his name… I was open like a bloody hunk of beef steak. And to dress the wound, they had to get me a full chloroform for about the first seven days, and left it open because it granulates from the bottom. And I remember him telling me later on ‘You’ll be lucky if you ever walk again, and you’d certainly never fly again.’
    But however, he made a great job of patching me up.

    N – It would be great to find out what his name was.

    Sqn Ldr JP: – I wish I knew

  19. Ross,
    I am currently working on a historiographical essay on the Battle of Britain over here in America. I have some books and some articles, but I feel like I have some gaps in my material. Do you have a couple of pointers on where I should be looking in order to make sure my analysis is more solid?
    Thanks,
    Jeff

  20. Paul,

    Just stumbled across this site, looks like it has plenty of material for a student aspiring to study history at University in the UK. Also made me consider War Studies! Many thanks,

    Adam

  21. Adam,

    I am glad you find the site useful. If you have any question about studying War Studies in the UK please just ask.

    Ross

  22. I am about halfway through “The Turn of the Tide,” a commentary on the diaries of Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke. It was written by Arthur Bryant and published by Doubleday in 1957. There are many mentions of Leigh-Mallory. Bryant is an excellent historian and gives an incisive analysis of the war’s strategy. It is better in that respect than anything I have found here in the United States.

  23. Hi Ross,

    I just wanted to drop you a note thanking you for your excellent article on Dieppe in CMH. I recently completed an MA thesis at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada. I wrote on Tedder’s Allied Air Forces and Operation Husky. Please see my blog alexfitzblack.wordpress.com for some insights on the air battles at night (more to come in future).

    Cheers,

    Alex

  24. Alex,

    Thank you for your comment on my article. I am glad someone has read it! Your MA sounds interesting. Have you any plans to publish it? Good luck with the blog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s