Henry Self

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Henry Self
Personal details
BornAlbert Henry Self
1890 (1890)
Died1975 (aged 84–85)

Sir Albert Henry Self, KCB, KBE (1890–1975), was a British civil servant. Prior to and during the Second World War he was responsible for arranging purchase of American aircraft to fulfil the needs of the Royal Air Force. Post war he held a post in the Ministry of Civil Aviation as the Deputy Chairman.

The son of Samuel Adolphus Theodore Self, a tram conductor,[1][2] Henry Self was, prior to his civil service career, employed as a dishwasher on the Fulham Road.[3] During the war he was part of the British Air Commission in America.[4] Initially he was the air representative to the British Purchasing Commission[5] which was purchasing all kinds of armaments and war materiel in the US.

Aircraft production in the UK was nearly at maximum, but production could be purchased outside of the country. Turning to the United States which was not yet at war, Self asked if North American Aviation could produce the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk under licence. North American offered to draw up a superior design to the Warhawk and bring it to production in a shorter time than setting a production line of the Curtiss design. This led to the North American Mustang which entered service with the RAF in 1941. It subsequently entered service with the USAAF being named the P-51 under U.S. Service.

Post war, Self became Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, replacing Sir William Hildred.[6]

He was married to Audrey, daughter of Sir John Otter, at one time Mayor of Brighton, and granddaughter of the founder of, inter alia, Lancing College, Hurstpierpoint College and Ardingly College, Nathaniel Woodard.[7] Henry Self had two sons: Peter Self (1919–1999), whose sons are Will Self and Jonathan Self, and Michael Self QC (1921–1998), who married Penny Drinkwater (daughter of the playwright John Drinkwater) and had two daughters: Susie Self (who married Michael Christie) and Melanie Self (who married Orlando Harvey Wood and had three children: Harry Harvey Wood, Robert Harvey Wood and Poppy Harvey Wood).

Already a Companion of the Order of the Bath, he was made Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the King's 1939 Birthday Honours list.[8] He was invested as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1947.[9]

Other positions[edit]


  1. ^ Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage 1967, Kelly's Directories, 1967
  2. ^ Self Abuse: Love, Loss and Fatherhood, Jonathan Self, Washington Square Press, 2001, pg 41
  3. ^ Self, Will (2004-08-06). "PsychoGeography #45: The bunker mentality". The Independent. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
  4. ^ Flight, 1941
  5. ^ Flight, 1945
  6. ^ New Civil Aviation Post Flight, 1946
  7. ^ Self Abuse: Love, Loss and Fatherhood, Jonathan Self, Washington Square Press, 2001, pg 41
  8. ^ "No. 34633". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 June 1939. pp. 3851–3874.
  9. ^ "Birthday Honours"
  10. ^ "Sir (Albert) Henry Self", Who Was Who, A & C Black via Oxford University Press, retrieved 3 September 2014, (Subscription required (help))