John Miles Steel

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For other persons named John Steel, see John Steel (disambiguation).
Sir John Miles Steel
Born 11 September 1877
Died 2 December 1965(1965-12-02) (aged 88)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy (c. 1897 – 1918)
 Royal Air Force (1918 – 1945)
Years of service 1897-1945
Rank Air Chief Marshal
Commands held RNAS Eastchurch
No. 58 Wing
No. 8 Group
Wessex Bombing Area
RAF India
Air Defence of Great Britain
RAF Bomber Command
RAF Reserve Command
Battles/wars Second Boer War
World War I
World War II
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George
Mentioned in Despatches (2)

Air Chief Marshal Sir John Miles Steel GCB, KBE, CMG, RAF (11 September 1877 – 2 December 1965) was a senior Royal Air Force commander.

Military career[edit]

Steel attended Britannia Naval College in 1892[1] and subsequently served in the Royal Navy.[2] He was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant in 1897 and served in the Second Boer War as a member of the Naval Brigade.[2] He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1900, Commander in 1912 and Captain in 1916.[2] In 1917 Steel was transferred from fleet duties to the Royal Naval Air Service and was appointed Officer Commanding RNAS Eastchurch.[2] In early 1918 Steel was appointed Officer Commanding No. 58 Wing which was based at Eastchurch[2] and in March, at the age of 40, Steel learned to fly.[2] Meanwhile he became General Officer Commanding No. 8 Group.[2] On 1 April 1918 the Royal Naval Air Service merged with the Royal Flying Corps to form the Royal Air Force.[2] Steel, like other RNAS personnel transferred to the RAF and was promoted to the temporary rank of Brigadier-General.[2] Promoted to Group Captain and then Air Commodore in 1919 he was appointed Deputy Chief of the Air Staff and Director of Operations and Intelligence and, following his promotion to Air Vice-Marshal in 1925, he was made Air Officer Commanding the Wessex Bombing Area and then Air Officer Commanding RAF India.[2] He was promoted to Air Marshal in 1932 and appointed Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Air Defence of Great Britain in August 1935.[2] When Bomber Command was created from the Air Defence of Great Britain command in July 1936, Steel became its first Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief in the rank of Air Chief Marshal.[2]

World War II[edit]

In August 1939 Steel came back from retirement to serve as Air Officer Commanding Reserve Command.[2] In April 1940 he was succeeded as AOC by William Welsh and Steel returned to retirement.[2] The following year in April once again returned to active service, this time as the Controller-General of Economy at the Air Ministry.[2] He retired for the last time on 26 September 1945.[2]



External images
Sir John Miles Steel by Walter Stoneman
Military offices
Preceded by
R M Groves
Deputy Chief of the Air Staff
and Director of Operations and Intelligence

8 September 1919 – 12 April 1926
Succeeded by
C L N Newall
Preceded by
W G H Salmond
Air Officer Commanding RAF India
Succeeded by
Sir Edgar Ludlow-Hewitt
Preceded by
Sir Robert Brooke-Popham
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Air Defence of Great Britain
Succeeded by
Preceded by
New Creation
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Bomber Command
Succeeded by
Sir Edgar Ludlow-Hewitt
Preceded by
Sir Christopher Courtney
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Reserve Command
1939 – 1940
Succeeded by
Sir William Welsh