Sir Harry Broadhurst

Sir Harry Broadhurst

Harry Broadhurst was born in 1905. He joined the Royal Air Force and took part in the Dunkirk evacuation and the Battle of Britain. In June 1940 he became Wing Commander of Coltishall and the following year station commander at Hornchurch.

In October 1942 he became senior air staff officer to the air commander in the Desert War. The youngest air vice marshal in British history, Broadhurst led 83 Group during the D-Day landings.

Harry Broadhurst was the Air Officer Commander-in-Chief Bomber Command from 22 January 1956 to 20 May 1959.

Sir Harry Broadhurst died on 29th August 1995.

Primary Sources

(1) Douglas Bader, Fight for the Sky (1973).

Througout 1941, Group Captain Broadhurst had a highly successful fighting career. Although station commander at Hornchurch (Essex) he frequently led the Spitfire Wing. In 1942 he found time from his staff duties as Air Commodore to fire his guns. Eventually, in 1943, he found himself in North Africa, as an Air Vice Marshall in operational command of the Western Desert Air Force, with headquarters at Tripoli.

Broadhurst was the first World War II RAF officer to have reached this rank. He had gained rapid promotion through sheer ability and hard won experience in action.

(2) In Italy in 1943 Bernard Montgomery commented on the importance of air support during modern battles.

I believe that the first and great principle of war is that you must first win your air battle before you fight your land and sea battle. If you examine the conduct of the campaign from Alamein through Tunisia, Sicily and Italy you will find I have never fought a land battle until the air battle has been won. We never had to bother about the enemy air, because we won the air battle first.

The second great principle is that Army plus Air has to be so knitted that the two together from one entity. If you do that, the resultant military effort will be so great that nothing will be able to stand against it.

The third principle is that the Air Force command. I hold that it is quite wrong for the soldier to want to exercise command over the air striking forces. The handling of an Air Force is a life-study, and therefore the air part must be kept under Air Force command.

The Desert Air Force and the Eighth Army are one. We do not understand the meaning of "army cooperation". When you are one entity you cannot cooperate. If you knit together the power of the Army on the land and the power of the Air in the sky, then nothing will stand against you and you will never lose a battle.