Arthur Longmore

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Sir Arthur Murray Longmore
Arthur Longmore in Cairo WWII IWM CM 515.jpg
Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Longmore, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Middle East Command, standing in the gardens of Air Headquarters, Middle East Command, in Cairo.
Born(1885-10-08)8 October 1885
Manly, Australia
Died10 December 1970(1970-12-10) (aged 85)
Surrey, England
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Navy (1900–18)
Royal Air Force (1918–44)
Years of service1900–42
RankAir Chief Marshal
Commands heldInspector-General of the RAF (1941–42)
Middle East Command (1940–41)
Training Command (1939–40)
Imperial Defence College (1936–39)
Coastal Command (1936)
Coastal Area (1934–36)
RAF College Cranwell (1929–33)
No. 7 Group (1924–25)
No. 3 Group (1920–21)
No. 1 Squadron RNAS (1914–15)
No. 3 Squadron RNAS (1914)
Battles/warsFirst World War
Second World War
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Mentioned in Despatches
Officer of the Order of the Crown (Belgium)
Knight of the Legion of Honour (France)
Croix de guerre (France)
Officer of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Italy)
War Cross for Military Valor (Italy)
Grand Cross with Swords of the Royal Order of George I (Greece)
War Cross (Greece)
Other workVice-Chairman of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Then-Lieutenant Arthur Longmore (in dark coat walking toward camera on right) on 1 December 1911 immediately after he became the first person in the United Kingdom to take off from land and make a successful water landing, using the aircraft behind him, a Short Improved S.27 bearing Admiralty number 38, later often called the "Short S.38."

Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Murray Longmore, GCB, DSO, DL (8 October 1885 – 10 December 1970) was an early naval aviator, before reaching high rank in the Royal Air Force. He was Commander-in-Chief of the RAF's Middle East Command from 1940 to 1941.

Early life[edit]

Born in Manly, New South Wales, the son of Charles Croker Longmore and Janet Murray, he was educated at Benges School, Hertford and Foster's Academy, Stubbington[1] before entering Dartmouth Naval College.[2] He was commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1904.[2] Having developed an interest in flying, he volunteered for pilot training when the Navy accepted an offer of training facilities by the Royal Aero Club, and was one of the four officers to be selected. He obtained flying certificate No.72 in April 1911 at [1][2] a RAeC meeting that also awarded licenses to the pioneer naval aviators C. R. Samson and Wilfred Parke.[3]That year, assisted by Oswald Short of Short Brothers, he devised a way of mounting streamlined air bags on the undercarriage struts and under the tail of a Short Improved S.27 biplane with the construction number S.38—later often referred to as the "Short S.38"—and on 1 December 1911, using the air bags for flotation, then-Lieutenant Longmore became the first person in the United Kingdom to take off from land and make a successful water landing in a seaplane when he landed Improved S.27 No. 38 on the River Medway off Sheerness.[4]


Longmore joined the Royal Naval Air Service[5] in 1912. Before the outbreak of the First World War he served as a flight instructor at the newly formed Central Flying School, Upavon and was then appointed commander of the seaplane base at Cromarty and later of the experimental seaplane establishment at Calshot.[1] During the war he served as Officer Commanding No. 3 Squadron RNAS and then as Officer Commanding No. 1 Squadron RNAS before being transferred back to sea duties an officer on the battlecruiser HMS Tiger in 1916; during his service aboard Tiger he took part in the Battle of Jutland[2] He obtained a permanent commission in the Royal Air Force in 1920 and was appointed Air Officer Commanding No. 3 Group later that year before being given command of the RAF Depot in 1921.[2] He was made Air Officer Commanding No. 7 Group in 1924, Director of Equipment at the Air Ministry in 1925 and Chief Staff Officer at Headquarters Inland Area in 1929.[2] Subsequent appointments included Commandant of the Royal Air Force College Cranwell in December 1929, Air Officer Commanding Inland Area in 1933 and Air Officer Commanding Coastal Area (which was renamed RAF Coastal Command under his leadership) in 1934.[2] He went on to be Commandant of the Imperial Defence College in 1936.[2]

The outbreak of the Second World War found Longmore an air chief marshal and in charge of RAF Training Command.[2] On 2 April 1940, he was appointed Air Officer Commanding in the Middle East. He did not long enjoy the full confidence of Winston Churchill in that position and was relieved of his command in May 1941.[2] His last role before his formal retirement in 1942 was as Inspector-General of the RAF.[2]

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography says the following about Longmore during the first few months of 1941:

Longmore's constant demands for reinforcements resulted in some unwelcome attention from Churchill, who hated pessimists and senior commanders who complained about their lack of resources. After some acerbic correspondence, in which Churchill accused Longmore of failing to make proper use of the manpower and aircraft he had, Longmore was recalled to London in May 1941. He was succeeded in the Middle East by Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder.

In retirement he was Vice-Chairman of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.[2] Longmore’s memoirs, From Sea to Sky 1910–1945, were published in 1946.

Grantham by-election, 1942[edit]

Polling day was set for 25 March 1942. When nominations closed, it was to reveal a two horse race, between the Conservative Longmore and the Independent Kendall.

Longmore received a joint letter of endorsement from all the leaders of the parties in the coalition.

Kendall had initially been supported by the Grantham Labour Party, which then withdrew support on orders from Labour Party headquarters.[6] The party kept its collective head down during the campaign, though they did have to restrain Montague Moore, the previous Labour candidate and a few other local Labour members from actively supporting Kendall.[7]

The war was not going well for the Allies; the Russians had been driven back, the Japanese had taken Singapore and many were calling for Britain to create a 'Second Front' in Europe. The popular Labour politician Sir Stafford Cripps, who had returned to Britain following a spell as Ambassador to Russia, was brought into Churchill's War Cabinet.

One of Kendall's campaign leaflets proclaimed that "Denis Kendall is another Stafford Cripps. Independent yet Churchillian."

Kendall revealed wartime production figures in his election hustings speeches to criticise the government, but in a way that breached the Official Secrets and the Defence of the Realm Acts.

The Grantham Communist party in line with the position taken by their national headquarters, circulated a leaflet that urged electors to vote for the Conservative Longmore, so as to show solidarity with the Red Army.[7]


Kendall won and became the first Independent to defeat a government candidate since the war started;

Grantham by-election, 1942 [8] Electorate 54,317
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Independent William Denis Kendall 11,758 50.8 n/a
Conservative Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Murray Longmore 11,391 49.2 −8.9
Majority 367 1.6
Turnout 23,149 42.6
Independent gain from Conservative Swing


In 1913 Longmore married Marjorie Maitland, the daughter of William James Maitland C.I.E.; they had three sons and a daughter.[1] One of their sons, Wing Commander Richard Maitland Longmore OBE, was killed in action on 4 October 1943, in the course of an attack on a U-boat.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d Arthur Longmore at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation – Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Longmore
  3. ^ RAeC Notices Flight 29 April 1911
  4. ^ Bruce, J. M., M.A, "The Short Seaplanes, Part 1," Flight International, 14 December 1956, p. 922
  5. ^ Arthur Longmore, From Sea to Sky (Geoffrey Bles, London, 1946), Chapter II
  6. ^ The Times 23–24 March 1942
  7. ^ a b By-Elections in British Politics by Cook and Ramsden
  8. ^ F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1918–1949; Political Reference Publications, Glasgow 1949
  9. ^ U539


  • Longmore, Arthur. From Sea to Sky: Memoirs 1910–1945. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1946.
Military offices
Preceded by
Edward Masterman
Air Officer Commanding No. 7 Group
Succeeded by
Duncan Pitcher
Preceded by
Frederick Halahan
RAF College Commandant
Succeeded by
William Mitchell
Preceded by
Napier Gill
Temporary appointment preceded by Robert Clark-Hall
Commander-in-Chief Coastal Area
Replaced by RAF Coastal Command
New command Commander-in-Chief Coastal Command
Succeeded by
Philip Joubert de la Ferté
Preceded by
Sir Robert Haining
Commandant of the Imperial Defence College
Succeeded by
Sir Hugh Binney
Preceded by
Sir Charles Burnett
Commander-in-Chief Training Command
Title next held by
Sir John Davis
Preceded by
Sir William Mitchell
Commander-in-Chief Middle East Command
Succeeded by
Sir Arthur Tedder
Inspector-General of the RAF
Title next held by
Sir Arthur Tedder