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This biography of Sam Elworthy, arguably the most distinguished RAF officer of the post War era, is long overdue. Born in New Zealand, but educated at Marlborough College and Trinity College, Cambridge, Elworthy was called to the Bar but, with his love of flying, was permanently commissioned into the RAF in 1936. After distinguished active service, earning a DSO and DFC commanding a Blenheim squadron, he became ‘Bomber’ Harris’s liaison officer to Eisenhower, achieving the acting rank of air commodore aged 33.
After serving in India and Pakistan, Elworthy held senior positions in Fighter Command before becoming Commandant of the RAF Staff College, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff and then C-in-C of the tri-service Middle East Command, where he saw off the first threat to Kuwait from Iraq. In 1963 he was appointed Chief of the Air Staff, fighting the RAF’s corner successfully during a time of defence cuts, and in 1967 became Chief of the Defence Staff, managing the withdrawal from East of Suez and strengthening the UK’s role in NATO.
In retirement, Elworthy became Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle and the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London. He was made a Baron in 1972 and a Knight of the Garter in 1977. In 1978 he and his wife, Audrey, returned to their homeland of New Zealand, where he died in 1993.
The RAF’s Centenary year is a fitting moment for the publication of this outstanding airman’s biography.
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