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Geoffrey Salmond

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Air Chief Marshal Sir William Geoffrey Hanson Salmond KCB, KCMG, DSO (19 August 1878 - 27 April 1933), commonly known as Sir Geoffrey Salmond, was a senior commander in the Royal Flying Corps during World War I. Remaining in the Royal Air Force after the War, he held senior appointments in the Middle East, Great Britain and India. In 1933 Salmond served as Chief of the Air Staff for several weeks before his death from cancer.

Geoffrey Salmond was born on 19 August 1878 in village of Hougham near Dover in the English county of Kent the elder brother of John Salmond. His father was Major-General Sir William Salmond, Royal Engineers (1840-1932) who was descended from Major-General J. H. Salmond (1766-1837), military secretary to the Court of Governors of the old East India Company, and author of The Mysore War. Geoffrey Salmond was educated at Wellington College in Berkshire before joining the Army.

Salmond joined the British Army, undertaking his officer training at Royal Military Academy Woolwich around 1897.

He was commissioned into the Royal Artillery on 23 June 1898 and saw active service during the Second Boer War. He took part in the relief of Ladysmith and the operations on the Tugela Heights. He received he Queen's Medal and seven clasps, then in 1900 he was sent to China and gained a medal for the operations during the Boxer Rebellion there.

In 1905, Salmond was seconded to study Japanese. He married Margaret Carr, daughter of William Carr in 1910.

On 17 April 1913, Salmond joined the reserve of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) although he continued to serve in the regular army. Following staff work in military aeronautics, he went on to take up the post of Officer Commanding, No. 1 Squadron RFC. The squadron operated over the Western Front and Salmond and his squadron took part in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, including the Battle of Hill 60 and the Battle of Aubers Ridge.

In 1916 he was sent to command the 5th Wing, RFC, in Egypt, and in July, 1916, he was promoted to temporary Brigadier-General and given command of the RFC in the Middle East, a post which he held with brief intervals, until the end of 1921.

The DSO was conferred on him in the London Gazette of 3 March 1917, "for conspicuous ability and devotion to duty when personally directing the work of the Royal Flying Corps during the action. The striking success attained was largely due to his magnificent personal example." The action referred to was during the operations in Sinai at the end of 1916. In this command he was responsible for providing air cooperation for General Jan Smuts's force in East Africa, for the forces in Salonika and Mesopotamia, for Allenby's conquest of Palestine, and for the RFC in India.

While holding the command of the Middle East, he had laid out an airway from Cairo to South Africa, clearing a chain of aerodromes in Central Africa. His idea was to send a demonstration flight or flights of RAF aircraft across Africa, thus providing the link of which Cecil Rhodes had dreamed in a Cape-to-Cairo railway. Salmond contemplated flights by both landplane and flying-boat. He was not destined to put his idea into execution, though his airway was used by Sir Pierre van Ryneveld and Sir Christopher Brand on their first flight to South Africa.

On 1 August 1919 Salmond was awarded a permanent commission in the RAF, with the rank of air vice-marshal and he continued to serve as the middle east air commander.

In 1922 Salmond returned to Great Britain to take up the post of Director-General of Supply and Research at the Air Ministry. The following year, his post was renamed Air Member for Supply and Research and he remained as the head of Supply and Research for the RAF until late 1926.

Salmond next appointment was in India as the air officer commanding. He travelled to India by aircraft, making him the first officer to travel to an overseas command by air.

In 1931, Salmond returned from India to take up command of the Air Defence of Great Britain organization which was responsible for British air defences, including both fighters and bombers. He was promoted to air chief marshal several months later on 1 January 1933.

On 1 April 1933, Air Chief Marshal Salmond took over from his brother John as Chief of the Air Staff. At this stage he was already suffering from incurable cancer although it is unclear whether Salmond or his brother knew this at the time. Days later (5 April) arrangements were announced for Sir John Salmond to resume the RAF's senior post temporarily. However, Geoffrey Salmond never recovered and he died on 27 April. Sir John Salmond continued as Chief of the Air Staff for several more weeks after Sir Geoffrey Salmond's death.

Salmond was survived by his wife Margaret and their four children.

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