[Cross-posted at Thoughts on Military History]
I think our normal view of Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory has very much been skewed by his portrayal in the popular media. The most famous portrayal comes in the 1969 Battle of Britain. arguably the best film on the subject, having been based on Wood and Dempster’s The Narrow Margin, however, it does not portray him in the best of lights and follows what I describe as the Park version of the battle.
Now I am not saying this to detract from Park’s important role but there is an important point here that due to his untimely death in November 1944 Leigh-Mallory was never able to defend his actions through the publication of a memoir, autobiography or authorised biography. Thus, we tend to get a skewed interpretation of his ability. One that is more hagiographical than accurate to the record.
However, I quite like this portrayal of Leigh-Mallory. It is very much the physical representation of of Fighter Commands role in 41/42 when the command was order to ‘reach into france.’ I found it in Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory’s papers at the RAF Museum this past Thursday. It shows Leigh-Mallory running a rapier through Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering. I think it is great euphemism for the battle between the RAF and the Luftwaffe. Also it shows Leigh-Mallory as the valiant fighter against the evil enemy, perhaps a link to the perhaps a link to the aces ideal of the ‘Knights of the Air’ in combat. It is noted dated but I suspect it is from late 1942 when Leigh-Mallory had taken over from Douglas as head of Fighter Command. Also if anyone knows who the artist is let me know. There is an artist’s mark in the corner.
By Ross Mahoney