Miles Thomas

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(William) Miles Webster Thomas, Baron Thomas[1], known as Sir Miles Thomas, or Lord Thomas, DFC (2 March 1897[2] – 8 February 1980)[3] was Managing Director of the Morris Motors, 1940–1947, Chairman of the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC, later to become British Airways), 1949–1956,[4] Chairman of the merger broker Chesham Amalgamations,[1] and President and Chairman of the National Savings Committee.[5]

Early life[edit]

He was born in 1897 in Cefn Mawr, Wrexham, Wales, the son of a property owner who died the following year. He went to Bromsgrove School in Worcestershire, England.

War service 1914-18[edit]

After school, during which time his major interests were engineering and transport, in World War I, he joined an Armoured Car Squadron. After fighting through the German East African Campaign, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps qualifying for his wings in Egypt. He subsequently served with an operational squadron in Mesopotamia, Persia and south Russia, being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for aerial combat and low ground strafing.

Post war[edit]

After the First World War, he became associated with William Morris, Lord Nuffield and in 1941, became Chairman of the Cruiser Tank Production Group and a member of the Government's Advisory Committee. He was knighted in 1943.[6][7]

He was chairman and hapless public face of BOAC during the de Havilland Comet crashes of 1954.

In 1956 he resigned after a row with Harold Watkinson[3] then Minister of Transport and Thomas was elected as chairman of the board of Monsanto Chemical Ltd.[8] The company had just opened a new UK Head Office at Monsanto House (the name signs now covered over), 10-18 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0NB and had acquired a large chemical plant in Cefn Mawr, Thomas' birthplace. HRH Prince Phillip opened the building and a plaque still remains on the ground floor on what has been occupied by the Board of Trade partially since the late 1960s and wholly since Monsanto relocated its UK offices to Basingstoke in the late 1970s. He later took other board appointments including Britannia Airways.[3] In 1962 he was invited to deliver the MacMillan Memorial Lecture to the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland. He chose the subject 'Air and Sea Transport-Friends or Foes?'.

His autobiography was published in 1964.

On 29 January 1971, Thomas was created a life peer as Baron Thomas, of Remenham, in the Royal County of Berkshire.[9][10]

Personal life[edit]

On 2 June 1924 he married Hylda Church, who had been William Morris's secretary. They had a daughter, Sheila, (1925), and a son, Michael (1926).[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Story of Chesham Amalgamations" (PDF). Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Life Peerages". Retrieved 26 August 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d Peter G. Masefield: Thomas, (William) Miles Webster, Baron Thomas (1897–1980), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press 2004, accessed 15 May 2012 []
  4. ^ "The History Of The British Airways Museum - 1987". Retrieved 20 June 2007. 
  5. ^ "Janus: The Papers of Enoch Powell". Retrieved 20 June 2007. 
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 35902. p. 766. 12 February 1943.
  7. ^ "Thomas, Sir Miles, The Impact of the Jet in World Aviation". Retrieved 25 August 2007. 
  8. ^ Corrosion Technology, May 1956
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 45295. p. 1073. 2 February 1971.
  10. ^ " - Harry Bernard Taylor, Baron Taylor of Mansfield and others". Retrieved 26 August 2007. 


  • Thomas, Miles (1964). Out on a Wing: An Autobiography. Michael Joseph, London. 
Business positions
Preceded by
Harold B. Hartley
BOAC Chairman
Succeeded by
Gerard d'Erlanger