Stay the Distance: The Life and Times of Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Michael Beetham

Stay the Distance: The Life and Times of Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Michael Beetham

by Peter Jacobs


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Sir Michael Beetham enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the Royal Air Force. He joined the RAF as a pilot in 1941 and was awarded the DFC whilst serving with Bomber Command during 1943/44. Remaining in the post-war RAF, a number of flying and staff appointments followed, notably he drafted the first specification for the ill-fated TSR 2 and later joined the V-Force as commanding officer of 214 Sqn at Marham.

Beetham then served at the heart of Bomber Command’s affairs when the V-Force was at the forefront of the nation’s defenses. The most critical moment came with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. In 1964 he was given command of Khormaksar in Aden, the RAF’s biggest overseas station. His arrival coincided with the start of a terrorist campaign against British forces in Aden.

More senior appointments followed, notably as Commander 2nd Tactical Air Force and Commander-in-Chief RAF Germany, but the big prize came in 1977 when Beetham was appointed Chief of the Air Staff. In 1982 came the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands; as acting Chief of the Defence Staff, he was involved in the decision to send the Task Force to battle. After victory in the Falklands, Sir Michael Beetham handed over as CAS and was appointed Marshal of the Royal Air Force.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781848325524
Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Limited
Publication date: 07/26/2011
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Peter Jacobs is a former RAF Wing Commander and the author of several books. This is his fifth title in the Aviation Heritage Trail series and is a welcome addition to his recently published Bomber Command Airfields of Lincolnshire. His other recent titles for Pen and Sword include Daring Raids of World War Two; Heroic Land, Sea and Air Attacks, Setting France Ablaze; The SOE in France During WWII and Fortress Island Malta; Defence & Re-Supply during the Siege.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Foreword ix

Acknowledgements xi

Abbreviations xiii

Introduction xvii

1 Southern Skies 1

2 Bomber Pilot 20

3 Bomber Command to Africa 48

4 A Career Unfolds 69

5 A Valiant Record Breaker 85

6 The Height of Readiness and a Close-Run Thing in Cuba 97

7 Trouble in Aden 117

8 To the Stars 133

9 RAF Germany 150

10 The Chief 172

11 A Change of Government 197

12 The Falklands 225

13 What Retirement? 256

14 On Reflection 268

Appendix: Summary of Promotions, Awards and Appointments 276

Select Bibliography 278

Index 279

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