Lord Trenchard: choice?

Lord Trenchard's Choice

I've recently come across what appears to be a new biography of Marshal of the Royal Air Force Hugh Montague Trenchard, 1st Viscount Trenchard, 1st and 3rd Chief of the Air Staff, etc: Sylvia Andrew, Lord Trenchard's Choice (Richmond: Mills and Boon, 2002). I say 'appears to be' because there are serious discrepancies with the received historical account of his life, which must call into question the accuracy of the author's research.

Here's an extract from the book, followed by a blurb (both from here, though I've nabbed the cover from here):

"You leave him alone, do you hear?" The voice rang out, high and clear. Ivo winced as the sound sent his head throbbing again, and slowly turned. The next moment headache, heartache, everything was forgotten as he stared into the muzzle of a pistol, which was pointing directly at his head, not ten paces away. It was in the hands of a boy that couldn't be more than eleven or twelve. Ivo shivered as a chill ran down his spine. Guns in the hands of children could be fatal, and this boy looked angry enough to shoot him.

"You scum!" the boy went on without moving. "I suppose you mean to sell Star at Taunton, along with the others you have stolen."

If it didn't rile the mind of Ivo Trenchard, of the 7th Hussars and the most polished man in Europe, to be mistaken for a simple horse thief, finding that the urchin pulling a gun on him was a teenage girl certainly did! Joscelin Morley both dressed and lived her life as a boy in a futile attempt to please her father. Her future was clear: Marriage to her neighbor Peter was to join the two estates and they would settled down to care for the land they both loved. So where did the worldly Ivo, her godmother's nephew and a terrible flirt, fit into the equation?

I admit that I'm assuming that 'Lord Trenchard' here refers to the 1st Viscount Trenchard (the title was created for him), and not to either his son or grandson -- though they've both had worthy careers in their own right, and meaning no disrespect to them, neither seems to merit a biography. The 1st Viscount has already had one written about him (I'm reading it at the moment, as it happens) and is probably overdue for another interpretation. But I don't think Lord Trenchard's Choice can be it. I mean, he wasn't called Ivo (unless that's a nickname); he was in the Royal Scots Fusiliers, not the 7th Hussars; and as for 'the most polished man in Europe' and 'a terrible flirt' -- well, that's not any Boom Trenchard I've ever read about. That cover art is terrible, it looks nothing like him (and what's with the Jane Austen getup?)

Still, don't judge a book by its cover and all that -- I should at least flip through its bibliography and endnotes first. (And Trenchard was in fact born in Taunton, so that reference looks right.) So who knows, perhaps there's room for a feisty cross-dressing pistol-wielding Somerset lass in the Father of the RAF's life.

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11 thoughts on “Lord Trenchard: choice?

  1. Alan Allport

    Yes, yes, yes. But enough of these jollities. You know what your readers really want to know: what's it like partying with Corey Delaney?

  2. Post author


    What happens in Narre Warren South, stays in Narre Warren South.


    The follow-up question interests me more: "Who are they and where can I send my manuscript?"

  3. Chris Williams

    Let's hope that Sylvia Andrew has also researched her way towards lifting the name of HT's real-world rival, Sir Frederick Sykes. There's a name which screams 'Baddie!' just as loudy as 'Lord Trenchard' whispers 'Phwoarr...'.

    "But your ridiculous plans for a cathedral in Lincolnshire cannot prevail against my army of reservists, Trenchard.", hissed Sir Frederick, twirling his moustache, "And with my triumph, the lovely Joscelin will be mine!"

  4. Post author

    No doubt with a menacing General Groves as Sykes's loyal henchman! Actually, having read Eric Ash's book on Sykes recently, I think the real issue between Sykes and Trenchard should be the true paternity of the RAF ...

  5. I think all I can say is...urm...interesting. I do agree with Chris thoug if though plot has a 'duel' between Sykes and Trenchard for, as you say Brett, paternity of the RAF it might make it a laugh.

    There is an interesting chapter on Trenchard and Sykes in Gray and Cox 'Air Power Leadership' by Ash, which is very interesting.

  6. Chris Williams

    Lurking in the background, the stern and aloof Lord David of Henderson (and his exotic gamekeeper, Smuts) is the power in the county, whom Lord T and Sir F can neither afford to cross.

  7. Darren

    An old squat-mate of mine back in London in '84 was the great grandson of Hugh Trenchard. He was the quintessential anarcho-punk and was loath to have people discover his ancestry.

    Needless to say, the cover art for his tale would be substantially different.

  8. Post author

    I wonder if the writers of such works just grab random names from Burke's Peerage or somewhere. I suppose there was only a finite supply of peers alive during the Regency, so they have to get more from somewhere.


    Well, that sheds an altogether different light on Trenchard's legacy!

  9. Natalie Giovanna Mazzei

    Trenchard was my great-great- great Uncle and its only since my grandmother passed away recently that i've started to read about him and i'm finding it all so fascinating.If anyone has any web-sites or anything related to him that i might find intetesting please e-mail me.Thankyou.

  10. Post author

    Certainly an interesting figure to have in your family tree! So much has been written about him it's hard to know where to start. There's Andrew Boyle's authorised biography of him, simply called Trenchard. But you've probably already come across that; besides which, it was written half a century ago. Surprisingly for such an important figure, as far as I know no full-length biography of him has been written in all that time, only the odd memoir or chapter. It might be worth having a look at his Dictionary of National Biography entry, though you will probably need to go to a library for that.

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