C. G. Grey. A History of the Air Ministry. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1940. A valuable compendium of information by a knowledgeable (though, Grey being Grey, hardly detached!) contemporary observer. The first section covers the period up to 1918 (including the Air Ministry's predecessors); the last the interwar period. In between there is a discussion of the Air Ministry's organisation, including lists the members of the Air Council. At the end there are some fold-out organisational charts -- it must have been printed before wartime paper shortages began to bite.

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

5 thoughts on “Acquisitions

  1. Did you come across a copy or actively seek it out? I've been warned about the book in the past, but when I looked at it it didn't seem as contentious as I'd expected. On the other hand, I was mainly looking at the org charts, which were (according to the acknowledgements) provided by AM PR staff anyhow...

  2. Post author


    There are a few bits and bobs, but not actually a whole lot as far as I can see.


    A bit of both! At the SLV you can request 4 books at a time, so if I'm there to look at just 1 or 2 I usually pad out the remainder with things I haven't seen before. Like you I was surprised to find it was more soberly written than I'd expected. (Though looking at it again, there are more of Grey's diatribes than I'd thought, but then that's useful too.) So I thought it was worth buying if I could find a cheap copy. Now if only I could find Spaight's The Beginnings of Organized Air Power at any price!

  3. Erik Lund

    At its worst, _The Aeroplane_ was a horrible read, only barely enlivened by some of the better ad writers. At its best, and that largely means when Grey's RAF correspondent, C. M. McAlery was writing, it was a revelation. I'm reaching for the right metaphor, here. She added a third dimension to the two-dimensional scholarly narrative of the interwar service that the veil of the war has left us with. Grey could have done worse than simply lifted her articles out of the files and reprinted them, and it is a pity that no-one has.
    From _Flight_ for 13 November, 1953:

    WE regret to have to record the death
    of Group Officer C. M. McAlery,
    who for many years has been a contributor
    on Service matters to our contemporary,
    The Aeroplane.
    "Mrs. Mac," as she was known to her
    friends, served in the W.R.A.F. during
    the 1914-18 war and was unfortunate
    enough to lose her husband in a Service
    air accident at Hinaidi shortly after the
    armistice. From 1919 to 1939 she was
    a member of the staff of The Aeroplane,
    but on the outbreak of war went back
    into the Service and rose to the rank
    of Group Officer in the W.A.A.F., serving
    as a staff officer in Coastal and Maintenance
    Commands and as Senior Commandant
    of the W.A.A.F. Depot.
    For the past few years she has lived in
    semi-retirement in Sussex. She was 58.

  4. I can't remember where I read ut but this did cause consternation in the AM and he was asked to explain himself; I think it was Kingston-McCloughry's unpuplished memoir in his papers at the IWM. I will have to double check the next time i'm there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *