I am currently the Royal Air Force Museum’s resident Aviation Historian where I am responsible for enacting the museum’s academic aspirations through its research strategy. I promote and co-ordinate research at Museum by developing a culture conducive to study both at the Museum and in conjunction with external stakeholders. My key job functions are split over three areas; research, exhibitions and administration and includes maintaining a strong and active research profile and providing consultancy on exhibitions and the Museum’s collections strategy.
Pending corrections, I recently passed my PhD in Modern History at the Centre for War Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK. My thesis is entitled ‘The Forgotten Career of Air Chief Marshal 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.