Leslie Norman Hollinghurst

Sir Leslie Hollinghurst
Born (1895-01-02)2 January 1895
Muswell Hill, Middlesex
Died 8 October 1971(1971-10-08) (aged 76)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Air Force
Years of service 1914–52
Rank Air Chief Marshal
Commands held Air Member for Personnel (1949–52)
Inspector-General of the RAF (1948–49)
Air Member for Supply and Organisation (1945–48)
No. 38 (Airborne Forces) Group (1943–44)
No. 9 (Fighter) Group (1943)
No. 20 Squadron (1932–35)
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Flying Cross
Mentioned in Despatches (2)
Distinguished Flying Cross (United States)
Commander of the Order of Leopold (Belgium)
Bronze Lion (Netherlands)
Officer of the Legion of Honour (France)
Croix de guerre (France)

Air Chief Marshal Sir Leslie Norman Hollinghurst, GBE, KCB, DFC (2 January 1895 – 8 June 1971) was a British flying ace of the First World War and a senior commander in the Royal Air Force.

Early life and First World War

Hollinghurst was born in Muswell Hill, Middlesex, England on 2 January 1895, and was the second of three children of Charles Herbert Hollinghurst and Teresa Petty.[1] At the outbreak of the war in 1914, Hollinghurst enlisted with the Royal Engineers[2] participating in the Gallipoli landings and was wounded at Salonika. In 1916 he was commissioned into the 3rd Battalion, the Middlesex Regiment, and later in the same year was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC).[2] He learned to fly while serving in Egypt and went on to become a Captain in No. 87 Squadron[2] flying Sopwith Dolphins, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in October 1918, having destroyed four enemy aircraft. His final total was 11 confirmed victories. Leslie's two siblings also served in the war: Charles Stanley Hollinghurst was also in the RFC and was awarded the Military Cross and Distinguished Conduct Medal, while Phyllis Hollinghurst enlisted in the Women's Royal Air Force.

Interwar service

In 1919 Hollinghurst was given a permanent commission in the Royal Air Force.[2] He served in India and China, and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1931.[2] In 1932 he was appointed Officer Commanding No. 20 Squadron.[2] On return to the United Kingdom in 1935 he became a member of staff of the RAF Staff College and was promoted to the rank of group captain with a position at the Air Ministry in 1939.[2]

Second World War

Hollinghurst was appointed Director General of Organisation for the RAF in 1940,[2] and was promoted to the rank of air commodore in 1941 and acting air vice marshal in the following year. In 1943 he was given command of No. 9 Group.[2] Later in the year he was given command of No. 38 Group,[2] formed to transport airborne troops in the forthcoming Normandy Landings. Hollinghurst was on board the first pathfinder aircraft to leave for Europe on the evening of 5 June 1944. No. 38 group were later involved in Operation Market Garden, for which Hollinghurst was awarded United States Distinguished Flying Cross. Later in 1944 he was appointed commanding officer of air bases in south east Asia.[2]

Post war

Returning to the UK in 1945, Hollinghurst became Air Member for Supply and Organisation, and received substantive rank as air vice marshal in 1946.[2] He was Inspector-General of the Royal Air Force from 1948 to 1949, and was Air Member for Personnel from 1949 to 1952.[2] He was promoted to air chief marshal in 1950, and retired in 1952. Following his retirement he was twice called upon to produce reports on technical aspects of the RAF.

Hollinghurst died on 8 June 1971, having collapsed on his journey back from a commemoration of the Normandy Landings.[3]


  1. E B Haslam (2004). "Hollinghurst, Sir Leslie Norman (1895–1971)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation – Air Chief Marshal Sir Leslie Hollinghurst
  3. Sir Leslie Hollinghurst, The Times, 12 June 1971, p.16
Military offices
Preceded by
John Jones
Air Officer Commanding No. 9 (Fighter) Group
Succeeded by
Cecil Stevens
Preceded by
Sir Christopher Courtney
Air Member for Supply and Organisation
Succeeded by
Sir George Pirie
Preceded by
Sir George Pirie
Inspector-General of the RAF
Succeeded by
Sir Hugh Saunders
Preceded by
Sir Hugh Saunders
Air Member for Personnel
Succeeded by
Sir Francis Fogarty
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