(1892–1944), British airman who was C-in-C of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force during the Normandy landings in June 1944 (see OVERLORD).
After serving in the British Army and then the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War, Leigh-Mallory was commissioned into the newly formed RAF in 1919. By 1938 he was an air vice-marshal commanding No. 12 Fighter Group which, during the battle of Britain, defended the Midlands. When requested, it supported Park's No. 11 Fighter Group defending south-east England. But Leigh-Mallory's methods, in particular his support for ‘Big Wing’ tactics (see fighters, 2), were controversial and this led to increasing differences between Leigh-Mallory on the one hand and Park and Dowding, C-in-C Fighter Command, on the other. These continued after Dowding was replaced in November 1940 and to end them Park was replaced by Leigh-Mallory in December 1940; and Leigh-Mallory then pushed for ‘Big Wing’ offensive operations over France, which, with hindsight, were of doubtful value (see rhubarbs and circuses).
From The Oxford Companion to World War II in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Second World War.