P. R. C. Groves

GROVES, Brig.-Gen. Percy Robert Clifford. C.B. 1919, C.M.G. 1918, D.S.O. 1916; Order of the White Eagle of Serbia 3rd class, with swords, 1916; Commander of the Legion of Honour, 1920; late R.A.F.; late Air Advisor to the British Ambassador, Paris, for Peace Treaties, and British Air Representative on the Permanent Advisory Commission to the League of Nations; e. s. of J. Groves, late P.W.D. India; m. 1920, Suzanne, d. of E. Steen, Oslo; one s. Educ.: Bedford. Joined Army (K.S.L.I.), 1899; served South African War (Queen's medal 4 clasps, King's medal 2 clasps); employed with West African Regiment, 1903-4; Territorial Adjutant, 1909-12; joined R.F.C. 1914; served with Air Services, France, 1914-15; Dardanelles, 1915-16; Middle East, 1916-18; Air Ministry, 1918-19, observer, pilot, G.S.O. 3, G.S.O. 2, G.S.O. 1, Wing Commander; Director of Flying Operations Air Ministry, April 1918; British Air Representative, Peace Conference, Jan. 1919 (despatches thrice); Captain, 1910; Major, 1915; Temp. Lieut.-Colonel, 1916; Temp. Brig.-General, 1918; Substantive, 1919; transferred to Royal Air Force with rank of Group Captain, 1919; retired with the rank of Brig.-Gen., 1922; Associate Fellow Royal Aeronautical Society; Hon. Secretary General Air League of British Empire, and Editor of Air, 1927-29. Publications: Behind the Smoke Screen, 1934; Our Future in the Air, 1935. Club: United Services.

Who's Who 1937. London: A & C Black, 1937.

P. R. C. Groves (1878-1959) was perhaps the most well-known proponent of the idea of the 'knock-out blow'. He held some very responsible positions during the war, in particular Director of Flying Operations, while after the war he was the British Air Representative to the Versailles peace conference. It's not clear to me why he retired so early at age 44; but as he was soon afterwards publicly criticising Trenchard and the Air Ministry, particularly over the possible aerial threat from France and the lack of support for the aircraft industry, perhaps he felt that change could not be effected from within. In September 1939 he was recalled to the Air Ministry, where he served as Deputy-Director of Intelligence until April 1940. His works on airpower include Our Future in the Air (1922), Behind the Smoke Screen (1934) and Our Future in the Air (1935; unrelated to the earlier book with the same name).

See also Robin Higham, The Military Intellectuals in Britain: 1918-1939 (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1966), 170-6; Air of Authority. A list of archival sources is available at the National Register of Archives.

12 thoughts on “P. R. C. Groves

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  4. Just reading some comments by Slessor on Groves' 'Behind the Smoke Screen' from his papers. Would you like a copy?

  5. mely

    so lucky not to be existed during the war..Geez! I would suffer a nervous breakdown really!

  6. Post author


    Yes, I know, I've used them! Are you referring to the NRA link in the post? Strange that it doesn't list his IWM papers. Does the NRA not index the IWM collections, I wonder?

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