Tedder, Air Marshal Sir Arthur, 1890-1967

Tedder was a British Air Marshal who served as Deputy Supreme Commander of Operation Overlord. In 1941 he came to the fore when he was appointed Commander in Chief of the Middle East Air Force. He stressed the importance of gaining air superiority in the Desert War, feeling particularly vulnerable because it was easier for the Axis forces to receive reinforcements from other fronts. CHURCHILL found him too cynical and nearly sacked him in October 1941 but he had the full confidence of General AUCHINLECK and retained his command. By the time of the Battle of El Alamein, Tedder’s Air Force had achieved air superiority and he had designed a system of pattern bombing, ‘Tedder’s Carpet,’ to soften up Axis defense positions prior to an offensive. He also learned of the need to establish good relations with Army Commanders and won their respect in the North African campaign.

After the Casablanca Conference, January 1943, Tedder was appointed General EISENHOWER’s Army and Air Force Deputy in Tunisia and thereafter was responsible for co-ordinating land and air operations in the invasions of Sicily and Italy. In 1944 he returned to Britain to become Eisenhower’s Deputy in the run up to the D-Day landings. He was also the Supreme Air Commander and had to co-ordinate LEIGH- MALLORY’s air offensive with the strategic bombing offensives of HARRIS and SPAATZ. Tedder favored Leigh- Mallory’s plan to knock out the German transportation system and was able to get Harris’ and Spaatz’s co-operation. In November 1944 he took over the direction of the Tactical Air Force when Leigh-Mallory left for the Far East. On Elsenhower’s behalf he signed the instrument of surrender of the German forces in the west in May 1945. His real talent was as a strategist rather than a commander and his great contribution to winning the war in Europe was to isolate the Normandy battlefields from the hinterland of France.

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