History

Hugh Trenchard

The ashes of ‘the father of the Royal Air Force’ Hugh Trenchard, 1st Viscount Trenchard G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O., D.S.O. are buried in the RAF chapel at the east end of the Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey. The inscription simply reads:

“TRENCHARD MARSHAL OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1873-1956”

He was born on 3 February 1873 in Taunton, Somerset, a son of Henry and his wife Georgina (Skene). He joined the army and was wounded in the South African War. In 1912 he learnt to fly and at the outbreak of war in 1914 he was placed at the head of the emergent Royal Flying Corps, at that time just a branch of the army. He was appointed in 1918 Chief of the Air Staff of the newly formed Royal Air Force and was knighted in that year. In the following year he was made a baronet. In 1920 he married Katherine Salvin and they had two sons Hugh (killed in 1943) and Thomas, who succeeded as 2nd Viscount Trenchard. He founded training colleges for air cadets and officers and was made the first Marshal of the Royal Air Force in 1927. He was also founder of the RAF Benevolent Fund. For several years he served as commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police, establishing the police training college at Hendon. In 1936 he had been made a Viscount and died in London on 10 February 1956. Among the pallbearers at his funeral were RAF wartime leaders Charles Portal, Arthur Tedder, Arthur Harris and William Sholto Douglas.

A wreath is laid on the grave each year on the anniversary of his death. As a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath his enamelled stall plate still remains in the Lady Chapel.

A photograph of the gravestone can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.