Air Ministry - Establishment of The Air Ministry

Establishment of The Air Ministry

Despite attempts at reorganization of the Air Board, the earlier problems failed to be completely resolved. In addition, the growing number of German air raids against Great Britain led to public disquiet and increasing demands for something to be done. As a result Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, established a committee composed of himself and General Jan Smuts, which was tasked with investigating the problems with the British air defences and organizational difficulties which had beset the Air Board.

Towards the end of the First World War, on 17 August 1917, General Smuts presented a report to the War Council on the future of air power. Because of its potential for the 'devastation of enemy lands and the destruction of industrial and populous centres on a vast scale', he recommended a new air service be formed that would be on a level with the Army and Royal Navy. The new air service was to receive direction from a new ministry and on 29 November 1917 the Air Force Bill received Royal Assent and the Air Ministry was formed just over a month later on 2 January 1918. Lord Rothermere was appointed the first Air Minister. On the 3 January, the Air Council was constituted as follows:

  • Lord Rothermere, Air Minister and President
  • Lieutenant-General Sir David Henderson, Additional Member and Vice-President
  • Major-General Sir Hugh Trenchard, Chief of the Air Staff
  • Major-General (formerly Rear-Admiral) Mark Kerr, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff
  • Major-General (formerly Commodore) Godfrey Paine, Master General of Personnel
  • Major-General Sefton Brancker, Controller-General of Equipment
  • Sir William Weir, Director-General of Aircraft Production in the Ministry of Munitions
  • Sir John Hunter, Administrator of Works and Buildings
  • Major J L Baird Permanent Under-Secretary

The Air Ministry initially met in the Hotel Cecil on the Strand. Later, in 1919, it moved to Adastral House on Kingsway. The creation of the Air Ministry resulted in the disestablishment of the Army Council's post of Director-General of Military Aeronautics.

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