Solving the Conundrum: Leigh-Mallory and the Geneva Disarmament Conference

The other week I wrote a post about Sir Basil Liddell Hart noting in his memoirs that Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory was one of the RAF members at the Geneva Disarmament Conference in 1932. I noted that this would require further research in order to confirm Liddell Hart’s claim. Well I can now report that he was quite right!

The source of this confirmation was Hansard. I was using Hansard last week in order to search for discussions in parliaments about the RAF Staff College, the RAF Cadet College and the Imperial Defence College. Out of sheer curiosity, I decided to do a search for Leigh-Mallory and up popped sixteen results for him. Obviously most of them relate in some respects to his service in the Second World War plus one mention him the 1950s. However, concerning Geneva there was a useful entry on 25 May 1932. Sir Geoffrey Mander, the Right Honourable MP for Wolverhampton East, asked for the names of the officers representing the country on the various committees at Geneva. In his reply, Sir John Simon, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, stated the members sitting on the Land, Naval, Air, Effectives, and Chemical Warfare Commission. It is here that I now have the definitive answer to my conundrum. Simon’s noted that Leigh-Mallory, then a Group-Captain, was a member of the Air and Chemical Warfare Commission.[1]

This is important, as Geneva was a significant event in the international relations of the period. Leigh-Mallory’s attendance reinforces my view that the RAF’s hierarchy held him in high regard during the inter-war period and that he was clearly marked out for senior command due to a specific succession planning process that existed in the RAF. I now need to go back into the files and find some more specific evidence as to what he was doing there.


[1] House of Commons Debate, 25 May 1932, Vol. 266, Cols. 339-40

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