Hugh Trenchard the Younger Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1873 - 1956 *** Full Name: Hugh Montague Trenchard, 1st Viscount Trenchard *** Nickname: The Camel and Boom *** Occupation: British Officer *** Date of Birth: Hugh Trenchard was born on February 3rd 1873 *** Place of Birth: Hugh Trenchard was born in Windsor Lodge on Haines Hill in Taunton, England *** Family background: His father was Henry Montague Trenchard and a captain in the Kind’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and his mother was Georgina Louisa Catherine Tower and the daughter of a Royal Navy Captain *** Early life and childhood: He grew up with two siblings *** Education: Hugh Trenchard was initially tutored at home before going away to boarding school, Allens Preparatory School in Hampshire, when he was ten. He went on to attend Hammons which was a cramming school for Army ***
Hugh Trenchard Fact 1: Hugh Trenchard was born on February 3rd 1873 and during the 19th century period in history when great strides were made in the industrial revolution, the Victoria era was coming to a close and there were vast technological advances being made.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 2: In 1893 he passed the entrance exam for the Forfar and Kincardine Artillery and just passed. His first posting was India.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 3: He arrived in the Punjab to join his regiment. As was customary the youngest new recruit was expected to make a speech which was to include the Royal Scots Fusiliers history but instead Trenchard simply said “I am deeply proud to belong to this great regiment. I hope one day I shall live to command it.” For these simple words he received hoots of laughter and cheers.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 4: With peace largely dominating the region the servicemen were pretty much left to their own devices and generally sought sports activities to get themselves amused.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 5: As much as Trenchard enjoyed these activities he also found himself ready, in particular biographies of British heroes. He also found these far more educational than anything he had been taught in school.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 6: He would see no combat in India as he would be sent home on sick leave due to a hernia that he had developed.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 7: He would eventually be reposted back to his old unit who by then were in South Africa.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 8: This time he actually saw action against the Boers but he would also find himself critically wounded during that action, receiving a bullet to his chest he was medically evacuated to Krugersdrorp.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 9: As a result of his injury, which left him partially paralyzed he was sent back to England. In the Red Cross nursing home where he was looked after it was suggested he go to Switzerland for several months convalescence but being unable to afford it, Lady Dudley, who financially assisted the nursing home and made the arrangements for him to go.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 10: Once he arrived he found himself bored and to fill his time took up bobsleighing which required little use of his legs. However it took him a little practice to learn to stay on the run but on one occasion when he came off he somehow twisted his back with realigned it and once he regained consciousness he was able to walk again. He immediately made plans to return to England.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 11: He would again return to active duty but by 1910 he would again be sent home suffering from liver abscesses, once recovered he returned to active service once more.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 12: In 1912, just shy of his 40 birthday, he was encouraged to learn to fly by his good friend Captain Eustace Loraine. He persuaded his CO to give him three months paid leave and took himself off to Thomas Sopwith’s flying school at Brooklands.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 13: With only 10 days to qualify, Trenchard took the course and although he had some difficulties, namely the fact that he was partially blind in one eye and he managed to keep this secret, he passed. Although his flying abilities still left much to be desired, he nevertheless practiced as often as possible.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 14: In between practice, what he did discover he excelled at, was organizing and so he was enlisted to establish procedures ensuring the trainee pilots where as well equipped as they could be. He instituted practical topics such as map reading, signaling and basic engine mechanics.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 15: At the outbreak of World War I, Trenchard found himself appointed Officer Commanding the Military Wing of the Royal Flying Corp, making it his responsibility to provide replacements and raise new squadrons and to do so, he commandeered his civilian training school at Brooklands.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 16: A major reorganization was taking place within the Flying Corp’s command structure and together with the creation of First Wing, for which Trenchard was offered the command and he accepted.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 17: In 1915 he found himself promoted again to brigadier-general and selected officer commanding the RFC in France. As the RFC expanded, Trenchard was further promoted to major-general the following year. In November of 1917 Royal Assent was given to the Air Force Bill and Trenchard was offered and accepted the post of Chief of the Air Staff.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 18: In 1918 Trenchard began planning for the merger of the Royal Naval Air Service to the Royal Flying Corps. He later resigned and this took effect from 1st April when the Royal Air Force officially came into being. In time he accepted a further position as Commander of the Independent Air Force and worked towards improving relations between the RAF and the American Air Service.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 19: By mid-January of 1919, after a spell of much needed R & R Trenchard returned to duty and in the summer of 1919, as part of the peace time plan for the RAF, he was completing the demobilization and shrinking his squadrons from 280 to 28 at the same time a new ranking system was being developed which meant Trenchard himself was re-graded from major-general to air vice-marshall and within a few days to air marshall.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 20: In 1924 a reserve air force was created, the Auxiliary Air Force, which meant Trenchard was able to partially restore his much reduced RAF strength. Having attained the rank of air chief marshall he was appointed to marshall of the RAF and would become the first person to hold this highest ranking position in the Royal Air Force. By 1st January 1930 he resigned and was created Baron of Wolfeton and thus entered the House of Lords. He would also became the RAF’s first peer.
Hugh Trenchard Fact 21: Hugh Montague Trenchard died on February 10th 1965 at his home in London aged eighty three years. He was laid to rest at the Battle of Britain Chapel.
Influence & Legacy: His hard work established the RAF and he was also able to preserve its independence for which he was very proud and would lead to his being described as the Father of the Royal Air Force and he was uncomfortable with the tag. His greatest belief was that to master the air would be to gain and retain offensive action.
List of Awards given to Hugh Trenchard: Distinguished Service Order, 18 September 1906 *** Companion in the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, 1 January 1914 *** Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, 1 January 1918 *** Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, 1 January 1924 *** Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, 20 July 1935 *** Order of Merit, 1 January 1951 ***
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