Sir Max Aitken, 2nd Baronet

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Sir John William Maxwell Aitken, 2nd Baronet
Dowding and The Few.jpg
Wing Commander Aitken, fourth from left, with other members of "The Few", September 1942
Birth name John William Maxwell Aitken
Nickname(s) Max
Born (1910-02-15)15 February 1910
Montreal
Died 30 April 1985(1985-04-30) (aged 75)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Air Force
Years of service 1935 — 1946
Rank Group Captain
Unit
Battles/wars

World War II

Awards
Relations
Other work

Sir John William Maxwell "Max" Aitken, 2nd Baronet, DSO, DFC (15 February 1910 – 30 April 1985),[1] formerly nd Baron Beaverbrook, was a British Conservative politician and press baron, the son of Max Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook.

Early life[edit]

Aitken was born in Montreal on 15 February 1910 to Max Aitken (later Lord Beaverbrook). He was educated at Westminster School and Pembroke College, Cambridge. A talented sportsman, he was a University blue at Soccer and a scratch golfer. A keen flyer, he spent some time in the thirties flying throughout Europe and the USA. He joined the Royal Auxiliary Air Force in 1935.[2]

Military service[edit]

Aitken served as a Bristol Blenheim and then a Hawker Hurricane pilot with No. 601 Squadron RAF during the early part of World War II,[3] becoming CO in June 1940,[2] earning the Distinguished Service Order and Distinguished Flying Cross, for eight combat claims.[2] Leaving the Squadron on 20 July 1940, he then served as CO of No. 68 Squadron RAF, a night fighter unit, from February 1941 until January 1943, claiming four night victories.[2]

Serving in the Middle East during the middle war years as Wing Commander,[2] although he was officially non-operational, he managed to shoot down two Junkers Ju 52 aircraft while flying with No. 46 Squadron RAF in Beaufighters.

Aitken became Wing Leader of the Banff Strike Wing (RAF Coastal Command) in 1944. He reached the rank of Group Captain, achieving 14 and one shared aircraft claimed shot down.[2] He did some of his early flying training with Richard Hillary, to whom he was known as Bill, and featured in his book The Last Enemy.

Post-war career[edit]

In 1946, he entered the family newspaper business, as a director of the Express Group, and would become Chairman of Beaverbrook Newspapers Ltd.

At the 1945 general election, Aitken was elected Member of Parliament for Holborn with a majority of 925. Unfavourable boundary changes meant that the Labour Party took the successor seat in 1950 comfortably and Aitken did not stand at that or subsequent elections. He also served as Chancellor of the University of New Brunswick.

He appears in the famous World War II documentary The World at War giving a variety of interviews, including the episode "Alone in Britain."

Offshore powerboat racing[edit]

In the late 1950s, Aitken witnessed one of the early Miami Nassau Offshore Powerboat Races, then participated in the following year with his wife Lady Violet. It was the experience of this new “sport” that led to his announcement at the 1961 London Boat Show of a similar ocean race to be staged in the south of England in August that year.

Together with John Coote they formulated the rules that saw the birth of the Cowes Torquay Offshore Powerboat Race, with the aim of improving the breed of sea going fast cruisers and safety at sea. The Cowes Torquay will celebrate in 2010 the 50th year since Aitken founded it.

London International Boat Show[edit]

Aitken, with the sponsorship of his newspaper the Daily Express, helped to found the London International Boat Show in 1954 at the Empire Hall, Olympia.

Family life[edit]

Aitken married three times:

  • 1) Cynthia Monteith (1939–1944) (divorced)
  • 2) Ursula Kenyon-Slaney (1946–1950) (divorced); two daughters (Kirsty and Lynda)
  • 3) Violet de Trafford (1951–30 April 1985); a son and a daughter (Maxwell and Laura)

He succeeded his father as Baron Beaverbrook on the latter's death on 9 June 1964, but disclaimed the title three days later on 12 June, stating that "there shall only be one Lord Beaverbrook in my lifetime". On his death in 1985, his son, also Max Aitken, took on the title.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bruce Barrymore Halpenny Fight for the Sky (1986) ISBN 0-85059-749-8, Page 15
  2. ^ a b c d e f Bruce Barrymore Halpenny Fight for the Sky (1986) ISBN 0-85059-749-8, Page 44
  3. ^ Bruce Barrymore Halpenny Fight for the Sky (1986) ISBN 0-85059-749-8, Page 40

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Robert Tasker
Member of Parliament for Holborn
19451950
constituency abolished
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Max Aitken
Baron Beaverbrook
(Disclaimed)
9 June 1964–12 June 1964
Succeeded by
Max Aitken