Trafford Leigh-Mallory was born at Mobberley, Cheshire on November 7th 1892. A well educated man, having graduated with honours at Cambridge University in the subject of history. At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, he joined the Territorial battalion of the King's Regiment and later was to receive a commission in the Lancashire Fusiliers, but joined the Royal Flying Corps in July 1916. Upon the formation of the Royal Air Force on 1st April 1918 and served in France during this war where he was to receive the DSO.
With the RAF, he was given a permanent position with the rank of Squadron Leader and in 1921 was appointed to the Army Co-operation Unit and was commander for a period of three years. Attending The School of Army Co-operation and a further course at the Army Senior Officers School he was to gain valuable experience in land and air co-operation and extended this to become an instructor at the Army Staff College at Camberley Surrey.Leigh-Mallory was to become the controversial leader and Commander-in-Chief of 12 Group protecting and being responsible for the fighter coverage of Central England. He was a soldier during World War One and saw considerable action during that period, but towards the end of the war was transferred to become a commander of an aerial reconnaissance squadron. In 1937, he had visions of becoming the commander of 11 Group a position that he wanted and a position that many expected him to get, but Hugh Dowding gave the prestigious position to Keith Park and assigning Leigh-Mallory to 12 Group, a decision that Leigh- Mallory resented and throughout the Battle of Britain period considerable bitterness was shown between the three.One of Leigh-Mallory's squadron commanders was Douglas Bader, 'tin legs' as he became known, and both Bader and Leigh-Mallory were firm believers of the 'Big Wing' where fighters could attack in large formations, in fact the 'Big Wing' theory was developed by Bader, but
Dowding was not in favour if this, believing that too many aircraft would take too long to disperse and large formations of fighters would get in each others way. But it was not until towards the end of the battle where Dowding agreed, and the 'Big Wing' theory was responsible for many of the enemy aircraft shot down over London. Dowding would remember this when 12 Group was called upon to assist and protect the northern fighter bases of 11 Group, Leigh-Mallory employed the 'Big Wing' theory and it proved to be a failure.By the time that all of 12 Groups aircraft had got off the ground, it was too late by the time that they had arrived to assist 11 Group and the Luftwaffe had sustained considerable damage to the northern bases. After the Battle of Britain, Leigh-Mallory seemed to follow Keith Park around, always taking over where Park had left off. Following Park leaving 11 Group, Leigh-Mallory took over the group, he had got the position he wanted after all. When Dowding resigned in 1942, Leigh-Mallory accepted the post of Head of Fighter Command. In 1943 he became Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Expeditionary Force controlling the air cover required for the invasion of France in Operation Overlord. After the invasion of France in November 1944 he was appointed C-in-C of South-East Asia.
On the morning of November 18th 1944, newspapers recorded that the Air Chief Marshal had been killed. His aircraft had crashed somewhere in the French Alps killing all on board.